Antichamber is an 2013 indie video game by Alexander Bruce. It is a first-person puzzler, where the normal rules of Euclidian space do not apply. You begin alone, in a single room, with the exit in sight behind a wall of glass. The only useful action is the clickable map, which leads to a long drop and the word "Jump". From here, all you know is you need to get to the exit.You can watch the game trailer here.The game was originally developed as Hazard: The Journey of Life, where completion of puzzles will provide short musings of life and choices.Notes before reading ahead:
Because this is a puzzle game, many examples of tropes in the game may be unmarked spoilers. Stop reading here if you want to figure it out yourself.
The creator of this game himself suggests avoiding Walkthroughs of this game unless you are hopelessly stumped. The fact is, this game has no plot or story that you are missing by being unable to finish a puzzle. As opposed to most games where you finish a puzzle and then advance the plot, here the puzzles ARE the plot.
This game provides examples of the following tropes:
Stuck on a puzzle? Stuck by a puzzle? Not sure what to do? Whack the Esc key and go back to the main map.
In rooms with multiple paths, arrows will materialize on the walls to point you in the directions you haven't taken yet.
Art Shift: The final area before the end is a really soft and rounded area in what up to that point was a very blocky, angular game.
Artifact of Doom: The black block. It floats around emitting darkness wherever it goes, and tends to show up right as you get to gun upgrade rooms. What it is, what it is doing, and why it tends to pass by the block guns is never touched upon at all. However, it's a prominent moving thing doing something, so it's worth investigating.
Bellisario's Maxim: invoked At one point in the game, you can find a locked door similar to the Exit Door which is instead labeled "Under Construction", with a nearby quote saying "Some things don't have a deeper meaning." The door's purpose is currently unknown, but it obviously doesn't want you to dwell on something that doesn't matter yet.
Bizarrchitecture: Rooms don't necessarily connect to other rooms based on relative spatial position. Rooms often also connect to rooms based on where the player is looking and at what angle the player is coming from, or on the player's previous series of actions. Some rooms even change after visiting other rooms. However, the more esoteric means of getting around have distinctive objects that you can associate with what you need to do.
Classic Video Game Screw Yous: Some the most difficult, hair-pulling puzzles in the game in the end don't advance you towards the exit, but reward you with an Easter Egg room or plop you somewhere you've been before. This is fine when you've already beaten the game, but annoying when you're still trying to figure out where to concentrate your work to finish the game for the first time.
Contemplate Our Navels: Solving a puzzle will reveal an apt quote about the solution, or sometimes about the next problem. It is hard to be sure which.
For example, at the end of a training track with the blue block gun, you are shown a door and a block. Look away from the door, and it will vanish behind you. The game then has a quote about keeping important things in sight.
A trippy one comes from learning a quirk about the green gun which can multiply blocks which isn't an obvious use. A first time player may attempt a puzzle they've come across many times before because they couldn't solve it with the blue gun which ends in frustration because there aren't enough blocks. After finding another, carefully tucked away puzzle, it teaches the player about the multiplication trick. And then the game provides a quote on precisely what the player just experienced.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: The Escape key takes you back to the map room, negating some of your progress. If you are in the middle of a puzzle and something happens in Real Life requiring your attention, DO NOT PRESS ESCAPE TO PAUSE THE GAME as you do in games with similar movement controls like Half-Life or Portal.
Deconstructor Fleet: The game goes far out of its way to defy common sense and never behaves like you would expect. That is, until you get used to all the bizarre twists and it decides to throw a perfectly normal puzzle in front of you. Unless it isn't.
Don't Look at Me: Certain parts of the environment change or activate depending on whether or not you're actively observing them.
Door To Before: Often, but the numbered rooms in the tower sections are the most obvious.
Dream Logic Puzzle: The puzzles in the game are usually either this or block puzzles, though sometimes both. The most common general principle is that areas will often change when you aren't looking at them.
Dummied Out: Two of the pink cubes are located in side areas that are impossible to reach without hacking.
Easter Egg: There are several Developer's Rooms that showcase concept art, historical screenshots, and even a piece of shader code (coded with the Unreal Engine graphical editing tools). These tend to be well hidden behind the hardest puzzles in the game.
Gainax Ending: You finally catch up to the darkness-emitting black block, as you suck it into your block gun, the entire world gets sucked into the black block first. You are left with a black block gun and an open monochrome space outside. You leave your white dome to find winding paths and towers everywhere, and falling merely loops you back where you were before you jumped. Finally you find a black dome. It opens up to reveal a floating cube and white wreckage. Shooting the black block into the cube, the wreckage floats up, forms into the Antichamber logo and sucks everything in, including you.
Game-Breaking Bug: One specific puzzle near the end of the game, if solved in the manner that is most obvious, crashed the game. Specifically, the puzzle requires using the duplicating properties of block squares to form a block cube, which would crash the game due to its size. Thankfully, the puzzle is optional, is still technically doable even in the bugged version (simply make a cube that only fills as much area as necessary to trigger the door, or, if you're crazy enough, try to do precision shooting at the beam emitters), and the bug since has been fixed.
The game can only handle so many blocks existing at a time, making the block duplication ability of the red gun liable to crash the game if you try to use it on larger walls.
The game crashes if you use a block cube the motion-sensitive destruction ball.
Also, some abilities aren't well demonstrated. For instance you are shown that you can "grow" more blocks with the green gun in the recess in the wall, but it takes a logical leap to figure out that you can do so by drawing an empty square anywhere you want - not just in the recessed areas.
The more you complete, the harder it gets to find what you've missed.
Metroidvania: The game is non-linear, allows sequence breaking, features interconnected areas, requires upgrades to advance, and focuses on exploration.
Mind Screw: The trailer for the game starts with a quote from a critic saying "Even as the developer told me what the game was doing to mess with my brain, it still succeeded in messing with my brain."
Minimalism: Antichamber uses primary colors in simple fashion. Most objects do not appear to have textures mapped to them. There is only ambient sound and no soundtrack.
No Antagonist: There's something that can be interpreted as an antagonist, but doesn't really do anything visibly bad.
Offscreen Teleportation: Assume the environment around you will do this to you, and it becomes a lot easier to progress.
100% Completion: In the form of fully exploring the map and locating all the images. And to a lesser extent, finding all the hidden pink cubes.
Point-and-Click Map: One of the walls in the main room has a map of all the areas you have visited, as well as their connections to every other room. Can be useful for restarting puzzles or moving to different puzzles when stuck.
Point of No Return: Averted. At any point in any puzzle, you can return to the hub level by pressing ESC. The only exception is during the final segment of the game - specifically, after sucking in the black block. Even then, you can return to the hub level once you complete the game, or by closing it out and opening it up again.
Portal Door: Some entrances to rooms involve going through what looks like a solid volume from a specific side.
Replay Value: Once you have beaten the game you can go for 100% completion, but aside from seeing the game with experienced eyes and just messing around with the gun the game doesn't really have much to come back to. (This is one of the reasons people shouldn't look up walkthroughs)
Save Game Limits: The game has only one save. You can't really let a friend try it fresh without losing your own progress.
As this is a PC game, you can of course manually keep multiple copies of the save file; in fact, this is what the creator recommends doing.note (your Steam installation directory)''\steamapps\common\Antichamber\Binaries\Win32\SavedGame.bin
Sequence Breaking: While there isn't an exact singular sequence of puzzles that must be followed (the green and yellow block guns have multiple puzzles that lead directly to them), it is possible to reach the ending without getting the red block gun through clever manipulation and careful management of blocks.
Take a Third Option: Many of the puzzles will have this as a solution. Early on there is a hall leading to two stairways, one going up and one going down. It doesn't matter which one you take, they both lead back to right in front of both stairways, the solution is to turn around and go back down the hallway you came.
The Tower: The primary endpoint for successful puzzle completion, and a good indicator of progress. As would be expected, the act of navigating this tower doesn't necessarily involve going up and down, and it's easy to find the various levels of it out-of-order. You start the main game in the middle of level 1.
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: After every gun upgrade, and at some points without gun upgrades, you often go by the exit door. It usually just has a wall with a quote about progress and endings immediately behind it. After playing this straight 4 times however, this is inverted in the very end, where if you try to ignore the exit door like you would before, the other door would lead you to a wall and a quote about how you should move on.
Video Game Tropes: It does kind of go unsaid - considering that it is a video game and all - but the hype is how different the game is. However once you get deeper into the game the recognizable tropes set in. The game got very good reviews, but one of the rare middle-range reviews points out that "Despite a bold start, Antichamber can't resist eventually becoming a videogame, introducing a gun-like tool that sucks up and fires off coloured blocks."
Wrap Around: Used primarily to mess with the player's spatial senses. Various hallways and exits can take you to virtually any part of the Antichamber complex, and you often cannot go back the way you came.
The end section of the game features a seemingly endless open area consisting of walkways connecting towers and decks. The Bottomless Pits in this area actually loop around—falling off of a walkway just means you'll come down from above your starting position in a few seconds, which is necessary to reach the end.