In an ordinary puzzle game you’ll often see a puzzle, and then be expected to solve it. If you have more puzzles, you’re expected to complete them in a very linear fashion. You always focus on the end. You want to complete. To solve.
Well, guess what, Antichamber couldn’t care less.
When you start the game you spawn at a special room, which I’d call the entry point, allowing you to spawn at any chamber you have visited so far. This room also facilitates the game’s settings menu and every sign you’ve collected.
Yep. The game has no real menu. If you press escape, you simply get teleported back to the entry point. Hold escape to quit. So Antichamber doesn’t even behave like an ordinary game.
But it gets worse (better!). Antichamber defies everything from geometry to common sense. But how do you play such a game? Easy! Keep progressing!
Antichamber consists of a series of chambers and corridors, which on visit allows you to travel back to them whenever you wish. This is a part of the game, because some paths will get you stuck – and that’s okay! Everything in Antichamber is okay. In fact, you can’t die! There is no concept of loss, error or defeat in this game. You have progress and you have being stuck.
Being stuck isn’t so much in a problem, really. When you cease to progress you can pick another route to explore instead. And then you’ll be finishing the game, chamber after chamber.
I loved Antichamber. I loved the non-linear take on a puzzle game. I love how the game defies geometry. I love how it defies reasoning, while still – in its own way – being rational. Lessons you learn in the game will come in handy at a later time. I love how all your actions, not only those directed at solving the situation at hand effect the game. I love how the focus isn’t on the actual end, but on the journey.
Did I get stuck (as I often do in games containing puzzles)? Yes, but never for too long. I only got really stuck once, because I thought that I wasn’t able to solve a puzzle. The game usually makes it very clear when you have to complete another chamber prior to the one you’re in. If you get stuck at Link in a Chain Reaction, do keep at it. Or just look up the solution online. It’s one of the very few “real” puzzles.
What would I rate this psychological puzzle game? I’d rate it 6/5. It deserves an impossible score, because it’s an impossible game. It’s pure awesomeness in every aspect and I hope I’ll see another game just like this one. I think I still have some things left to explore… you know what I mean when you play it. It gave me 8-10 hours of gameplay, and I’m sure it’ll give me at least another 5 in replayability.