Antichamber is a new first-person puzzle exploration game from experimental game developer Alexander Bruce. The game began it’s like as a mod for Unreal Tournament 3 called Hazard: The Journey of Life and was debuted at the 2009 Tokyo Game Show Senses of Wonder night, which Alex developed in his spare time while attending University.
Throughout the game’s development it has gone on to achieve several honours in major competitons including: Make Something Unreal, PAX10, IndieCade and the Independent Games Festival. In June 2011, Alex renamed the game to Antichamber in preparation for the game’s commercial release. In March of 2012, Antichamber went on to win the Technical Excellence award at the IGF and in April 2012, became the 7th game to receive funding from the Indie Fund to help it through it’s final stages of development.
The game features:
- A deeply psychological experience that will make you question everything you know about how a game works.
- Mind-bending challenges that will subvert your expectations at every twist and turn.
- An enormous, seamless non-Euclidean world to explore.
- Lifelike soundscapes developed by Robin Arnott and an ambient soundtrack composed by Siddhartha Barnhoorn.
- A gun that can create, destroy and manipulate matter, allowing you to discover new ways to overcome your surroundings.
So what is it like to play Antichamber? Well, that’s a simple question to answer, but the answer will not leave you with a lot of satisfaction. It’s unique.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, Antichamber is about exploration and solving puzzles, but the game world is fluid. Things shift, and wrap around themselves, and it’s incredibly easy to get lost. There are signs on the walls that help you figure out where to go, but in all honesty getting to the end is not really the point in this reviewer’s opinion. The point of the game, if I may be so bold to posit, is to simply experience it.
And what an experience it is! The soundtrack is delightfully moody and helps increase the sensation of the weird, abstract surreality of your surroundings. Although completely dissimilar games, the sense of exploration in this game reminds me oddly of one of Cyan’s earlier games, The Manhole. The visuals are top-notch as well. The art makes wonderful use of white as negative space, juxtaposed occasionally by bright sections of blues, reds, pinks and more. I would even go so far as to say the combination of sound and visuals make this game achieve that classic 1970′s abstract science fiction vibe found in movies like Logan’s Run and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The only other game I can think off the top of my head that gave me a similar feeling was Fotonica, another favorite of mine.
All this being said, it’s pretty evident I’m a fan of this game, but is there anything negative I can say about this game? Not much, but there are a couple of minor things. For one, a lot of people might find the game a little too abstract and find themselves lost (like in the staircase puzzle) and get frustrated. Secondly, there’s a bit of an issue with people who have AMD video cards running this game. Several people, myself included, experienced a problem with the game locking up and then quitting during the opening Unreal movie. This was a relatively simple fix, just requiring a simple download of the Nvidia PhysX drivers, with other people reporting simply updating their video card drivers was enough to solve the problem. If in doubt, check the Steam Community Hub discussions and you should be on your way.
So to wrap things up, I have to say Antichamber is an excellent gaming experience, and while some people might get frustrated with the game, I still think it’s well worth the purchase price. Alexander Bruce has knocked one out of the park with this release, and I’m definitely looking forward to his future works.