As you stumble through the hallways of Alexander Bruce's Antichamber, you might think to yourself, "Gee, that wasn't so hard." And that's all well and good, except you'll eventually come to realize you've said that about the last twenty puzzles. And that immediately before completing the puzzles, you repeatedly slammed a hardcover dictionary against your forehead to try to knock the natural gaming instincts out of your brain before you continued. Antichamber is all about tackling each puzzle with an open mind, as the game tries to make you forget which way is up. (We're not entirely sure, but we think forgetting which way is up might be the answer to at least one puzzle.)
It's hard to speculate if there's any definite plot in Antichamber, but it's safe to say that your goal is to work your way through each puzzle as it bends the rules of the universe to work around you. You can move with [WASD], look around with the mouse, jump with [space] and walk slowly using [shift]. How you move and how you look at the world are incredibly important, as very little in the Antichamber is as it seems and trying new perspectives is tantamount to progressing. It also helps to be observant of your surroundings, as sometimes the solution is waiting in a subtle change to a wall (or perhaps the entire wall itself).
Antichamber is set in an M. C. Escher-inspired world of impossible structures and hallways that seem to double back on themselves with no regard to real-life physics. These "impossible" scenarios play an important part in challenging how you choose to solve a puzzle, such as one early puzzle in which you are presented with two staircases, one leading up, the other down, and have to either complete circuits of stairs until you climb to a solution, or find another way out of the loop. Many puzzles require you to take the tricks you've learned in previous levels (or, the gaming adages you've had to abandon) and apply them in new ways to reach new areas. With each puzzle solved (sometimes with each attempt at a puzzle), you'll be provided with a small drawing and quip to illustrate the lessons you've learned through your efforts. Soak these in, because they're often the only clues you get to explain the bizarre world around you.
When I first spoke with the developer, Alexander Bruce, about this game at PAX East, he described it as a game that was meant to subvert every gaming norm that you might be familiar with, and he undoubtedly succeeded in doing so. The puzzles require you to slip into a mindset you probably don't get to use anywhere else, and perhaps for a good reason. (Bruce told me a story of one person who, after playing a bit of the game at the convention, attempted to leave the computer area by crawling through the structure holding up a display monitor, nearly knocking it over. Another patron saw this happening and remarked, "If that's what this game is going to do to me, I'm afraid to play it.")
While I can't say I've experienced any psychedelic effects from playing this game, Antichamber really does make you think in a way you probably haven't before, and it's an amazing feeling. Even though the puzzles jab at your brain with a pointy stick, they still do so in a comfortable environment that invites you to be curious. The world is meant to be explored, and you're never discouraged from doing so. If you're up for the challenge, put your thinking hat rack on (because one thinking cap just won't do) and see if you can escape from the Antichamber. (Although in fairness, we should entertain the possibility that by solving the puzzles, we aren't escaping the Antichamber, but digging further into it. Ah, subversion.)