Been a while since I did one o’ them proper game review type things, so I decided to fix that!
When I first saw Antichamber, my thought was pretentious, what with the cryptic texts on the wall, and the fact it seemed to destroy physics (like 3 right turns leads you to somewhere completely new instead of where you started) just because it could. With too many reminders of Braid, in the bad sense, I avoided the title like the plague. Yet since it sat on my steam list for a long time, coming with a bundle or pack deal of some kind, I eventually decided to knock it out blind, as entertainment for my Youtube channel.
The mechanics are fairly solid, with the controls being just a little glitchy at times. The most notable problem I had was trying to get blocks to go up or down with my gun, instead of back/forward. It seems to be based almost entirely on your distance, which leads me to believe it may be the angle you’re viewing it. The Puzzle solving does feel really good though, and when you figure out that puzzle that’s been driving you crazy for 20 minutes, you really feel accomplished in a very portal-esque feeling.
The aesthetic is really clean, and the journey itself is fairly wonderfully paced like portal. Unlike portal though, if you’ve played it once, you realize there’s so few rooms/puzzles you -have- to do to beat the game. Almost all of the side rooms are just to teach you the mechanics of things you may not know (like holding doors opens with cubes, or multiplying them.) And this is designed really well, and gives a bit of a challenge after to see how fast/how few rooms you actually have to do.
There are also some devloper easter eggs, hidden behind some extra challenging puzzles/mechanics. Though as shown in my run, sometimes they’re not so clearly shown to be an easter egg, and you can spend a very long time trying to ‘solve’ a room that is there simply to show some background to the development of the title.
Where the game does fail for me personally, are the cryptic texts, that usually just comment on whatever objective you -just- accomplished or failed at. If they’re the reward for solving a puzzle or at least advancing (even if it’s to a fail room,) they’re pretty poor. It got to the point I didn’t want to read or look at them, and was doing so only for consistency with my play-through.
While the climb to get to the ending is wonderful, and the final set of mazes paces you through all the mechanics you’ve learned, to show you how much you’ve grown, the ending itself is….lackluster to me. You free the evil demonic black cube thing (anti-matter I believe) to power a….I can only assume spaceship. Honestly I didn’t see much purpose or derive much pleasure from the entire ending bit. I’d have personally enjoyed it more if you sucked the evil lovecraftian black cube up, and the world faded to white. It just felt like there should have been more context for what happened. Perhaps a sequel or prequel will explain it all better and remove my complaints? But maybe not.
It’s a very enjoyable puzzle game, with a clean aesthetic, and workable mechanics. It’s pacing and introduction of mechanics is almost portal-esque perfection. The ‘story’ or just progression of….events that aren’t puzzles feel superfluous and pretentious. The easter egg development rooms are interesting and a nice addition. Overall a solid game, especially for an indie developer.