Average User Score: 8.2Feb 12, 2013If any game is going to reach the standard set by the Portal series, it's this game. But comparing them almost seems like a category error, because beyond the quality of their puzzles, they have few similarities. Portal is a story- and character-driven puzzler that captures its audience with humor and a creeping sense of claustrophobia; ultimately, the player's objective is to complete the puzzles set by the antagonists so that they can survive and escape the facility. Antichamber, on the other hand, offers the player no objective beyond the promise of more puzzles if they complete the current ones, and the chance to leave the stark and minimalist setting if they complete all of them. This may seem like a downside at first, but it ends up being more like a poignant meditation on the puzzle genre in general, a reminder to the player that he or she playing the game because figuring out puzzles is fun, and just winning some trophy at the end is not.
New gamers will like how Antichamber forces one to experiment and think outside the box in order to progress, while experienced gamers will appreciate its subtle subversions of puzzle game tropes and how well it takes advantage of its non-Euclidean environment. I found myself most grateful for its use of the "hub" system that allows instant travel between different areas of the game, so I would never have to remember all the mind-bending twist and turns I had to take from A to B, and so that I would never have to repeat a puzzle in order to return to an unexplored area. It's non-linear format will also please gamers who obsessively backtrack to make sure they haven't missed anything (i.e. me), as there are no hidden areas that aren't directly related to progressing forward (except for maybe the pink blocks behind the walls, but apparently these will have significance in a future patch). In general, what makes this game most compelling is how it genuinely makes players take different perspectives and often weird approaches in order to solve a puzzle. This is perhaps in contrast to Portal, whose puzzles are solvable merely with high spatial intelligence and a good eye for knowing where to put portals.
My only reason for not giving this game a perfect 10 would be for subtle faults or omissions related to the provided "hints". While all the puzzles can be reasonably solved without having to use a guide (or even any of the cryptic hints placed on the walls nearby), there is a distinct tendency to get "stuck" at points. By "stuck" I do not mean with a specific puzzle, but instead with the sense that one has explored all they can explore (given their current materials) and are "missing something" in order to go forward. This could be solved by having the hub system highlight areas where the player has yet to do something that they "could" do. In retrospect, though, such an addition may be impossible, as there always appears to be multiple avenues a player can take to progress forward.… Expand