Antichamber review

Antichamber review

Trick or treat?

Alexander Bruce's Antichamber is a game that delights in its own inhumanity. It's a wilfully cruel first-person puzzle game that loves to trick the player with rule changes, visual sleights, false walls and impossible spaces as well as some testing logic problems. Visually, it couldn't be any more stark - it's etched in hard, angular monochrome and splashed with lurid neon - while the soundtrack of whining wind and distant animal calls is pure doomy alienation.

There's one incongruous human touch in all this lab-engineered intellectual torture. After defeating a puzzle, you'll find a sketchy allegorical cartoon on the wall: a dog chasing its own tail, maybe, or a man pushing a stone up a mountain. Click on it and you'll read a cheesy motivational slogan straight off some kitten-festooned office poster: "Dig a little deeper and you may find something new," or "If you never stop trying, you will get there eventually." Usually these reflect on the puzzle you've just solved. I can't tell if their use is supposed to be ironic or not - but it's irritating either way. It comes across as Bruce condescendingly reminding you that he's always one step ahead.

Antichamber is a deeply self-conscious game, then, and it's a bit smug with it. It's very clever, it's very pleased with its own cleverness, and it's unwilling to let you enjoy a sense of victory over it. It also has an inconsistency that provides it with many entertainingly trippy and confounding moments, but which ultimately makes it untrustworthy. And a puzzle game you can't trust is seldom that much fun.

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Antichamber coming to Steam this month

Award-winning first-person indie puzzler's release finally draws near.

Brain-melting first-person puzzler Antichamber is coming to Steam on 31st January for PC, creator Alexander Bruce has announced. It has not yet been priced.

Antichamber Preview: Dear Escher

FeatureAntichamber Preview: Dear Escher

A very, very different kind of puzzler.

"I like games that surprise me," says Antichamber creator Alexander Bruce. Standing in a crowded expo hall in a bright pink suit and tie, Bruce is certainly not afraid to write his own rules. His peculiar choice of wardrobe extends to his game design philosophy, wherein he wants games to be a constant learning experience. "I'm not as surprised by games as I used to be," he laments. "I'd like to make games that fix that."

His upcoming puzzle game, Antichamber, casts you as a nameless, faceless individual plopped down in a series of test chambers. So far, so Portal. But whereas Valve's seminal first-person puzzler relied on a single idea that expanded throughout the course of the game, Antichamber refuses to rely on any one notion for too long. Instead, it's an ever-changing mishmash of spatial and logic puzzles that ask the player to constantly reassess how the world works.

An early room portrays a chasm with the word 'Jump!' Try to jump across it and you'll fall to a room below. The solution is to simply walk across - at which point a bridge forms beneath your feet - but failing to realise this doesn't punish the player.

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