Antichamber is a truly unique experience. Its the kind of puzzle game that resembles Portal a little bit, but follows a different structure. There is no underlying story, you just get thrown into a strange, kind of philosophical world. One where you solve puzzles that have only one goal: To screw with your mind
Mindblowing is not just a random word I use to emphasize how awesome Antichamber is. It is literally the best definition of the experience that awaits you. It is hard to go deep into it without spoiling the fun, but let me put it this way: Antichamber’s main goal is to defy every expectation you might have from playing other video games. In fact, it will defy every expectation you have from life!
There is no tutorial that explains how to play the game and you don’t even know what the real goal is. You just find yourself inside the Antichamber and you will have to move on and find out how to progress. You will quickly realize you are in some sort of main-hub, where you can set up the settings of the game, as well as check and track the progress of rooms that you have visited and also “solved”. “Solved” because progression is not really linear and sometimes it does not follow conventional logic either. Progression can sometimes be how to overcome one of the game’s obstacles, like open a door or jump up some platform. Another time how the hell to even get out of one of the rooms you have found yourself in.
Playing with your expectations
It is hard to go into specifics because each and every surprise the game has for you is part of the experience. But the way that many puzzles play with your mind, is by simply ignoring or contradicting laws of logic and physics. You might walk down a hall across one room only to find out that the scenery behind you has changed completely. Or you might find yourself in front of two sets of stairs going up or down, only to find out that each set of stairs brings you back to the same room where you have to choose again, seemingly stuck in a loop. You will quickly realize that this game plays with the expectations you know from other games. But Antichamber is clever about all of this. Every surprise you face is going to be different, have some sort of twist to it, but at the same time make you learn a new lesson that you just might use for the next puzzle ahead of you.
A tiny spoiler on what you might be thinking at times
What I found extremely fun and almost cute is, that every single puzzle has a unique styled drawing somewhere close to the riddle you are trying to solve. Clicking on said drawing will reveal sometimes philosophical, sometimes encouraging tidbits. Usually, in the form of a short sentence, it might be some sort of a small hint, or sometimes just a consolation for whatever mechanic just tricked you. You will read something like “Failing to succeed is not failing to progress” and doesn’t that just sound profound? I found myself stopping in my tracks in awe of well a phrase like that fit my current situation.
Antichamber’s soundtrack is very unique and focuses solely on providing the perfect ambiance. You will hear relaxing, slow-paced music that will seamlessly fit into the atmosphere of whatever area you are. Sound plays an extremely important role in the game. Some puzzles will produce a distinct sound to the point where you will realize where you are just by hearing sound queues that you have heard before. Without spoiling too much, you will soon get to know and maybe hate the ticking pendulum that is very distinct in some areas of the game.
Other times the soundtrack will get enhanced by smooth, relaxing sounds like those of seagulls or crashing waves. These effects will make immersing oneself into this strange but beautiful world all the much easier. It is the main driver for the relaxing element that this post’s title alludes to. Even though Antichamber can be at times frustrating, the whole experience is going to be somehow very relaxing. Much like a laid-back stroll through some idyllic forest. Except its a multidimensional, physics-defying box of some sort of course.
Antichamber combines all of these elements. A mix of simplicity and exotic rules. Philosophical and endearing quotes and pictures, along with relaxing ambient background music and noises, create the ultimate motivational experience. You will find yourself in front of a puzzle, but rather than despair at the difficulty, you will be encouraged by the game to try it another way. Or maybe even just try something else and come back later. The whole experience is tailored towards mindfulness and a relaxed approach. Rushing into things is rarely the right solution in Antichamber.
Being forced to step back and think, take things slowly and not stress yourself has a calming effect on the player. Antichamber makes you feel at peace, while simultaneously giving you a sense of satisfaction whenever you progress through the individual chambers. There is much to unlock and some riddles will stay unsolvable until you find the right tool to access them.
Antichamber is like a trip. You get in, you immerse yourself in a world that is a strange mix of familiar and foreign. Suddenly you find yourself diving deeper and deeper. It is an experience that I can whole-heartedly recommend and the best thing you can do is stop reading any more reviews about it and simply start it up. Just let yourself be taken and open your mind to this unique experience.
Piqued your interest? Go grab the game at the Humble Store!