Genre: Puzzle
Year: 2013
Developed by: Alexander Bruce
Published by: Demruth
Platforms: Windows, Linux, Mac OS
Feeling Like: Free your mind

Look, I know I’m resistant to change. My first reaction upon hearing “let’s try something else today” is to resist the urge to throw up in fear and focus all my mental energy on nodding and smiling. “Great idea!”

I’m a creature of habit and it’s hard to break loose. Life has worked out pretty well for me so far, why deviate from the path? Try new foods? But…but I could get sick! I could hate it! I could…end up loving it! See, two against one – not worth the gamble.

Even in games I have to remind myself that I’m having fun, not writing an exam. I should branch out and try new things. Instead of the tried and true melee class, why not go for a projectile throwing wizard and change up your strategies? Instead of grinding needlessly and letting walkthroughs do the majority of the work, why not wing it and challenge yourself? Most of you are nodding at this point. Don’t be a wimp, Henry!

Well, I tried to muster all the courage I had and relied on my previous gaming experience to get me through Antichamber and failed miserably. There is no way I could progress  by doing what I’ve always done. It’s a brilliant little puzzle game that rewards players for completely throwing the book away when it comes to solutions. There is no rule book. Forget the book. Hell, forget physics entirely.

Done, and done!

Against a sparsely sublime soundtrack, labyrinthine walls and an attitude that giving up doesn’t necessarily mean the end, Antichamber carefully nudges you towards obstacles with barely any direction but insanely clever design. This is not a game to rush, or power through. I had to re-think my approach to rooms multiple times before coming up with the solution. As is the case with all great games, it was supremely satisfying once I’d figured out the solution.

If I was dreaming about Antichamber, I wouldn’t be able to determine if it was a nightmare or not. It’s not totally relaxing, nor does it contain any kind of stressful narrative. Once you leave the safety of the original chamber, your path is totally up to you. Impossible objects await. Bottomless pits result in new areas, rather than death. Going back the way you came won’t necessarily take you back the way you came. At any point, you can go back to the main room and start over. This is a welcomed respite; it’s always good to take a break and have a fresh perspective. Solving a different problem may unlock a new way of thinking.

Once I got over the initial shock and just tried throwing random ideas at the rooms, I had a lot more fun. Conventional thinking (particularly video game-y thinking) isn’t welcome here, but it’s good to shake things up and embrace change in this Euclidean maze.

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