Review: Antichamber

Antichamber is a game that will challenge you, defy you, and just maybe make you break down in tears from confronting your own insecurities. But you'll emerge from the Antichamber stronger than you were when you went in, and that alone makes it a worthwhile game to play.

I mentioned Antichamber as PAX AU wrapped up, and I picked up a copy of the game to have a look for myself. I played it for three and a half hours. 

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I don’t know if I won.

I don’t know anything any more.

Antichamber is less of a game, and more of a social experiment. It challenges your preconceptions of the world and how it works, and if you tend to think inside the box then you will find yourself adapting, or failing. But even then, is failure really that bad?

I don’t know. I really, really, don’t.

Upon entering the game for the first time I was greeted with a small room with black walls, and glowing instructions on the controls. There was also a timer. One and a half hours. Timers in games tend to make me nervous, so I clicked on the map and zoomed off to the first room. 

This was my first test. I took a running jump. 

I fell into a pit. Which, ultimately led me back to the room with the black walls. Foolishly, I repeated my actions, holding off the jump until the last moment. I fell down again. I was, at this point, a little frustrated. Is it a bug, I thought to myself, or am I missing something?

I approached the ledge. I took a step and…and I didn’t fall. 

Lesson One: We need to walk before we can fly. 

Bemused and now very wary, I moved forward. The next ‘test’, if one can even call these rooms tests, featured what looked like an atom hovering in the middle of a laser grid. I took a step forward, the atom divided. The faster I moved, the faster it divided until its previous green calm became an angry red mess. I stopped moving. It settled down.

Beyond the atom were two doorways. Clearly, there was a choice here. Move slowly, patiently. Preserve the atom in its pristine state, or rush ahead, divide it, possibly start some kind of chain reaction. I won’t say what I did, but this little placard greeted me once I made my decision. 

 

Well, I thought to myself, that’s quite profound. But I can just go back–

I turned around. The way backwards was closed off. Whelp. 

Lesson Two: Some choices can’t be taken back. At least, not right away.

I walked forward, cautiously testing each step. I was paranoid now, testing my surroundings, unsure of what was real, what was an illusion. I came to another invisible bridge, but it seemed to stop halfway across the chasm. I tried to jump the rest of the way, the bridge fell apart under my feet.

 

I was greeted by this little nugget of wisdom. I had the feeling that by this point the game was testing me. Testing my resolution, my patience, and my very essence as a person. Where would I draw the line? Did drawing the line mean that I had failed, or was it a sign of personal progression, of knowing when to talk away. 

You don’t win in the Antichamber. But you don’t lose, either.

Lesson Three: Nothing is as it seems, and that’s okay.

I drew my line two hours after the counter had run down. I won’t spoil what happens when it does, but it left me confused, slightly angry, but mostly inspired. Antichamber has some important things to tell us, if we can be patient enough to listen. 
The use of sound was brilliant, and helped contribute to the overall feeling of disorientation and confusion, but sometimes offered comfort and relaxation. The environments reminded me of the original Portal, purposefully sterile. In fact, the entire game feels like something Aperture Science could have come up with, were they interested in furthering human development rather than finding its breaking point. 

Antichamber made me happy, it made me sad, and it motivated me to take a good look at myself and see room for improvement. At the same time, it also helped me to accept parts of myself that I’d previously seen as undesirable, and how to turn those traits into strengths. My experience was a profound one, and while it’s undoubtedly not for everyone, I think that a lot of people could benefit from sitting down with this game for a few hours. 

9
Review: Antichamber
Antichamber is a game that will challenge you, defy you, and just maybe make you break down in tears from confronting your own insecurities. But you'll emerge from the Antichamber stronger than you were when you went in, and that alone makes it a worthwhile game to play.

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Author
Catrana
Hi, and thanks for stopping by! My name is Cheyenne Palmes. I’m a twenty year old undergraduate at CQUniversity with a passion for gaming, cats, equality and chai lattes. One day, I would love to work for Bioware, while still working on my own, independent gaming projects.