Wednesday, March 12, 2014

3 days of...Antichamber!

Senses mean nothing when they have no meaning

Yes, I know that's nonsensical, but in a way it best describes your opening experience with Antichamber by developer Alexander Bruce. It challenges everything you know from playing games by cleverly beginning with what you know then reneging on that promise. It shows you things you never thought you'd see by not showing you things you thought you would see. 

If you thought that paragraph was confusing you should play Antichamber.

I've read articles that say it's hard to say what's so good about this game without giving it away, so I'll speak in generalities and vague philosophical nonsense, because that's about what this game reminds me of. No matter how frustrating it is though, it keeps dragging me back to its frustratingly backwards ideas and non-conformal logic. As a matter of fact the logic is so non-conformal that it defies even itself.
Colors display segmented hallways and seem to only serve the
purpose of confusion and beauty. A wonderful combination

Up is down, down is up. The walls aren't there, and then they are. You can jump, but it never seems high enough. Obstacles seem very real, as they are your biggest opponent. However they can also be your biggest ally in helping solve them. Puzzles are so confusing, grand, and subtle in Antichamber that it drives at the deepest part of you to understand the overall theme of the game. Unfortunately if you look you'll never find it. 

This comes back to the consistent rules that developers put into games because it's "just what's done" or makes a good game for the genre. Antichamber is definitely classified as a puzzle game, but that's where it's similarities end. It feels more like a psychological test than a puzzle -- as if it's purposefully giving a metaphor for a rat in a maze. Trying the same thing over and over could possibly drive you insane as much as shows you how insane you are. And yet it's necessary to the learning process. which you'll have to start over as if you were an infant again.
You'll need to open those doors to move forward, or will you?

If more games adopted this tactic, to try new things and NOT to deliver on the promise of previous iterations of the genre, we might have a wider variety of ideas in games. Instead developers have been copying and improving on other games in their respective genres. This isn't to say that it's bad to perfect those formulas. Only that good things can come from carefully considering the exact opposite. 

If you look at it purely as a satire for the industry, it's full of lessons we can learn. How gamers have been programmed to thing certain ways and that messing with that can be confusing. How can you beat a game if it doesn't follow rules? If the only rule that it has is not to follow rules? The challenge becomes then to understand exactly how it is playing against what you think. 

The fight to win is no longer digital in an in game world, but in your head. Antichamber brings the fight so close to your psyche that it becomes uncomfortable. Then turns all of that on its head and turns the mirror around to show you exactly how much of a fool you've been. 

Then again, I didn't finish the game in the last 3 days. So maybe there's something I've missed. I get the nagging feeling there's some grand message that can be gleaned from the overview of the entire experience, however long that is. 

Oh, and the aesthetic is nice too.

You'll like this game if: You're an anarchist, non-conformist, illogical, individual that doesn't like to be classified. You may also like this gamer if you enjoy water boarding and sensory deprivation. Possibly at the same time.

(If you had a different opinion or a new video game to suggest, leave a comment below! If you want to recieve regular updates, follow me on Twitter @SimonGolden)

No comments:

Post a Comment