By: Derek Yu

On: February 11th, 2013

Antichamber, by Alexander Bruce

It’s maybe easiest to compare Antichamber to Portal, but it actually reminds me more of The Manhole, an old children’s adventure game where a boat ride down a river might take you into the teacup of a character you were chatting with earlier. Like that game, Antichamber is constantly subverting your expectations about what is possible, especially with regards to physical space, and gives you a relatively large amount of freedom to explore its interconnected world. However, whereas The Manhole was goalless and sometimes completely random, Antichamber has a logic behind it – a method to its madness – that makes it such an interesting puzzler (and a technical marvel, as well).

There’s no story to speak of in the game and barely even any text. Instead, proverbs are found on posters as you play, encouraging outside and inside the box thinking in life and acting as simple metaphors for the game’s puzzles. Antichamber is almost self-referential in this sense, since, according to its press page, the development got its start 7 years ago through “a series of naive programming mistakes” made by its creator, Alexander Bruce. And just as Bruce must have undoubtedly felt surprised, frustrated, and ultimately elated during his development of the game, so should fans of puzzle games that end up playing this terrific title.

  • Threar

    This game is amazing in a lot of ways, finished it last week. I feel like it, maybe even moreso than Journey, recognizes your humanity and touches it in a way that only a game could – this is not an experience you could translate into another medium. I second the Highly Recommended tag.

  • Versigtig

    I bought, played, and beat this game in about 5 hours yesterday. Absolutely wonderful experience. The game play was fun and challenging; some puzzles were particularly frustrating but I seemed to figure them out just short of quitting out of anger. The narrative complimented the game and like Threar commented it seemed to recognize and touch on one’s humanity in a way few, if any, other mediums could.

    Overall, super glad with the purchase and the 6 years in development definitely shows. I have yet to find *every* “proverb” and will be running around exploring the puzzles again to find the ones I missed.

    Highly recommended for pretty much anyone; even my girlfriend, a decidedly non-gamer individual, is enjoying it quite a bit.

  • meadslosh

    This game, Braid, and Portal are proof that I’m stupid. I don’t understand this stuff.

  • nedry

    No, I’ve played all of those games too and found them to be pretty mediocre experiences. You’d be surprised at how “good” you can convince people your game is with the right marketing.

  • Luke Butcher

    And you’d be surprised how many people will convince themselves that certain highly aclaimed games are “mediocre”, just because it gives them a sense of intellectual superiority.

  • Anonymous

    I also massively enjoyed this game. But I think it only lends itself to a certain kind of person. One who’s willing to sit down and listen/learn from their experiences.

    I’ve seen reviews that claim they dislike the game because the rules “keep changing”. But really there are very defined rules in this game, they’re just different from what we know already.

    It took me about 7 hours before I completed the game (I actually found every proverb before naturally reaching the end which was nice). But I know people would could spend 14+ hours trying to complete this game and getting frustrated.

  • Robin Mendoza

    I loved The Manhole