There are some really exciting outbursts of creativity happening in video games when it comes to the first person perspective at the moment. Most recently Perspective blew my mind, sowed it back together again with fuse wire, and then blew it all over again. Now Antichamber has come along and proceeded to deal with that stubborn bit of my mind that refused to enter the stratosphere.
What Antichamber does constantly and fearlessly is make you question everything you know about how video games work, and the best ways in which to tackle problems. Even hours into play you'll be figuring out completely new abilities that change your perspective, and add a fresh layer of blown mind to the mix.
Antichamber is very much an open book - the problem is that all the pages have been jumbled up and the text is written in invisible ink. You are thrown into a world of white, and told to simply walk down some corridors and try to find the exit.
As you can probably guess, it isn't that easy. Doors block your way. Walls appear and disappear without warning. Walkways leads to the same walkways lead to the same walkways... until you begin to look at the situation in a different way to the norm. Special signs on the walls give you hints as to what you should be trying to accomplish, and slowly but surely you push your way through the world.
And it is a slow process, but a hugely rewarding one. Antichamber will make you say "wow" or "whoa" or some other w-led exclamation many a time, because the ideas crammed into here and simply extraordinary at times. You may have to stand up and take a walk away from your computer to clear your head and think things through every now and again, but this just adds to the experience.
Along the way, you're also granted special weapons. Don't worry, Antichamber doesn't get all first person shooty on you - it's a puzzler through and through. Rather, you're able to manipulate small blocks in the world, and in turn bypass certain obstacles and areas than beforehand were inaccessible.
This is the crux of Antichamber's progression plan: with each new gun you find, you're then able to unlock more of the world. As a result, you get dips and peaks of difficulty, depending on how long ago you found a weapon. Whenever you grab a new one, you're suddenly made to feel like a god... but only for 20 minutes or so.
Antichamber is blisteringly clever then - but it does have its weaknesses. For one, the main hub area, from which you can access past information, mess around with the options, and check the overmap, is decidedly confusing; especially once the map of the world has truly begun to open up.
One flashing symbol seems to signify where you were last, and another gives your next point of interest - but sometimes it's incredibly difficult to work out where to go next, and you can end up accidentally getting halfway through a puzzle you already solved 3 hours back before you even realize.
This leads to frustration towards the conclusion. I managed to get right up to the end of the game before fully losing my way, and after an hour of stumbling around, trying to work out where the heck I was meant to be going next with my newfound weapon, I'd lost interest in even reaching the end. It's a shame, given how close I was, but I wanted to leave the experience on a happy note, rather than remember it for driving me around the bend.
It's also notable that certain puzzles are difficult for the wrong reasons. You can see exactly what you're meant to be doing, and you're feeling clever for having worked it out - but then you can't get the movement or firing spot-on, and so you're forced to do the same thing over and over again until you get it right.
You should skim over these niggles of mine, though, because if you miss out on experiencing Antichamber, then you'll truly be missing out on what is sure to be one of the most intriguing and unique video games of 2013. Download, play, mind blown.
- Fantastic puzzles, the likes of which you'll have never witnessed before. Plenty of hours of game to dig into. New concepts introduced constantly throughout play.
- Sprawling map of the world is rather confusing. Some puzzles require tighter controls.