Antichamber review: An incredible way to laugh in the face of physics

digital blend antichamber amazes temple run 2 breaks records and black ops drops dlc

There’s been a temptation within the critical community to compare Alexander Bruce’s Antichamber to a certain other highly regarded first-person puzzle game from Valve Corporation. I disagree. That other game is a physics-based puzzle game at its heart, and physics – at least as we humans understand them – have no place in the universe that Antichamber occupies. Everything you do unfolds in an interconnected series of spaces that are all built on the foundation of non-Euclidean geometry.

Antichamber-score-graphicTo put it more simply, strolling through the world of Antichamber is analogous to stepping into an M.C. Escher sketch. The puzzles you encounter operate under a unique set of rules, some of which are specific to the space you currently stand in. One staircase could actually bring you to a new location, but another might merely loop back on itself again and again until you break the cycle by turning around and going back the way you came… at which point you find yourself stepping into an entirely new and different space.

Antichamber is a game that rewards creative thinking. It only rarely leads you along with anything as explicit as a tutorial, and even then such lessons are relegated to a sketch on a wall and an overtly simple puzzle to solve. As a player, you must constantly try to work through each given spatial riddle using the evidence laid out in front of you. Hints can be found only after a puzzle has been solved, and even then it’s typically in the form of a cryptic snatch of wisdom that only makes sense in retrospect. Comments like “Some doors will close unless we hold them open” or “There are multiple ways to approach a situation.”

The challenge only becomes more complex as you proceed and additional items are added to your toolbox. Antichamber features the unique Bit Gun which, when you first pick it up, can be used to absorb certain blocks found in the environment and spit them back out on a target of your choosing. This can be used to create platforms, bridge gaps, and the like. It’s also possible to produce more blocks out of the ones you have, once you’ve absorbed a certain amount.

Impressively, each new power variation added to your Bit Gun has a tendency to fundamentally alter the way you think about each puzzle. Antichamber evolves multiple times as you explore and discover more of its world. Much like the ever-shifting environment that surrounds you, each new tool breeds an evolved understanding of the rules of this placeIn some ways, it’s as simple an equation as “new Bit Gun power = new areas to access,” but the process of figuring out how to harness this new tool to access those areas is constantly being reinvented as you progress.

AntichamberIf there’s anything to complain about, it’s the fact that some of the later Bit Gun abilities can be difficult to manage on your standard two-button mouse. Most of us by now are using mice that have a clickable scrollwheel or some sort of top-mounted third button, and handling the pointer device starts to feel a little awkward once the third button is added to the mix. It hardly breaks the game, and there’s thankfully little that requires precisely timed button presses, but it’s still a mark against.

Then there’s the world itself, a beautifully minimal construct that bends and shapes itself around your progress. Many corridors wind back around to previously visited spaces, but with zero semblance of architectural integrity. You might make six sharp left turns as you follow a single hallway along a seemingly circular path, only to suddenly find yourself on another part of the map that has no business being connected to the space you just exited. You may then turn around to trace your steps, only to discover that the path you took to get here is gone.

Pressing the ESC key at any time sends you back to a hub room from which any discovered location on the map is instantly accessible with a single click. You’ll quickly figure out that special icons tell you where you just came from and your point of origin following your previous hub visit, allowing you to easily reset a puzzle that you might have fouled up moments before.

digital blend antichamber amazes temple run 2 breaks records and black ops drops dlc

Antichamber‘s minimalist environments, all built within Unreal Engine 3, are beautiful to behold. Black lines and white floors/walls/ceilings dominate, but splashes of color help to highlight different bits of the world. As you delve deeper into Antichamber‘s puzzles, more colors start to pop out. Sometimes it means something or directs your attention in a certain way. Other times, it’s a shiny thing meant to distract you. The only constant that carries through all of the game’s environment is the surrealism of it all.


Some might pan Antichamber for its refusal to guide the player, but that’s missing the point. This is a game that is designed specifically to promote experimentation on the part of the player. When you’re dealing with a world that isn’t governed by hard-set physical laws, trying out different approaches until something works is really your only option. Antichamber succeeds admirably in giving players all the tools and well-concealed environmental cues that they need to work things out for themselves. Any game can give you a puzzle to solve, but Antichamber is unique in expecting you to also figure out what and where the puzzle is to begin with.

Score: 9.5 out of 10

(This game was reviewed on an Alienware X51 gaming PC equipped with an i5 processor and an NVIDIA GTX 555 GPU.)


Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.

Console wars are so last-gen. Check out all the games that support crossplay

Crossplay is still in its infancy, but a growing number of games support online multiplayer between competing platforms. Here's a list of all games that support console crossplay.

Want to trick out your PlayStation 4? These themes will get you started

Personalize your gaming experience with some of our favorite themes for the PlayStation 4, including free, paid, static, and dynamic options.

‘Mortal Kombat 11’ is even gorier and crazier than we expected

NetherRealm Studios unveiled Mortal Kombat 11 on January 17 and the game looks to be just as gory and over the top as fans have come to expect. Former MMA fighter Ronda Rousey will appear as Sonya Blade.

Play your games whenever you want with a MicroSD card for your Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch uses cartridge-based games, but its internal storage may fill up quicker than you would think. Here's what you should consider when picking out a MicroSD card to expand your Switch's storage capacity.

Get your pilot skills up to snuff for this week's 'Fortnite' challenge guide

The Fortnite season 7, week 7 challenges are now available. The major challenge this week requires you to visit all the Fortnite expedition outposts in the game and we walk you through how to get to each.

Get extra life with our tips and tricks for 'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe'

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a much more difficult game than you'd believe based on its adorable art style and 2D perspective. Here's how you can master the game's toughest challenges.

Find all of the secret exits and world skips in 'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe'

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe has two distinct Mario experiences in one package. In this guide, we'll show you how to find all of the secret exits in New Super Mario Bros. U, that lead to hidden levels and let you skip worlds.

Find all of the secret exits and world skips in 'New Super Luigi U Deluxe'

Just like all other 2D Mario games, New Super Mario Bros. Deluxe includes secret exits and world skips. In this guide, we'll show you how to get to all 12 secret exits in New Super Luigi U.

For Netflix, ‘Fortnite’ on YouTube is a bigger threat than HBO

In a letter to shareholders, Netflix explained that it views the video game Fortnite as bigger competition than HBO, with YouTube videos of the game drawing viewers away from the streaming platform.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in 'Destiny 2: Forsaken'

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.