Portal - The Cake is a Lie

Portal is a puzzle masterpiece video game.

Portal is a single-player first-person puzzle-platform video game developed by Valve Corporation. The game was released as a bundle package called The Orange Box for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 on October 9th, 2007 and for PS3 on December 11th, 2007.

The game is comprised of a series of puzzles that must be solved by teleporting the player's character and simple objects using the "Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device", a device that can create interspatial doorways between two flat planes.

The player's character is named Chell, and she is challenged by an artificial intelligence named GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) to complete each puzzle in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center, using the portal gun with the promise of cake and counseling when all is completed. The game's unique physics allow momentum to be retained through portals, requiring creative use of the portals to maneuver through the test chambers.

The portal gun can create two distinct portal ends, a blue and orange. The portal can create a physical and visual link between two different locations in three-dimensional space and is neither an entrance nor exit.

Anything that travels through one portal, comes out of the other. The momentum redirection is an important factor in the game. As moving objects pass through the portal, they come through the other portal end in the same direction that portal is facing. This allows the player to launch Chell and/or objects over great distances, vertically and/or horizontally. Gravity also plays its part in regards to the positioning of the portal end. Jumping through portals is pretty tricky when you need to land on a platform and your view is kind of obscured from the angle of the portal. Don't worry if you get dizzy, I know I did.

Chell and various objects that can fit into the portal end come through the other portal. A portal shot can't pass through an open portal or it'll deactivate it. Creating a portal end instantly deactivates an existing portal of the same color. This took me some getting used to as it's not like you're putting in a door, so my coordination was a tad off until I really understood how the portals truly worked, so don't get too frustrated.

Moving objects, glass, special walls, and liquids can't sustain a portal. Chell sometimes has to pick up cubes and use them to climb or hold down buttons that open doors or activate mechanisms. Particle fields will deactivate all open portals and disintegrate any objects, except for the portal gun, that pass through once Chell has completed a test chamber.

Chell can be killed by various hazards in the test chambers, like turret guns, bouncing balls of energy, and toxic liquid. She can also be killed by falling objects that pass through the portals and by crushers. However, she is equipped with mechanized heel springs that help prevent damage from falling only. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to get nailed in the head by a cube while trying to jump through at the same time. Figuring out timing took me a bit as these types of obstacles are featured throughout the game.

The plot of Portal is told via audio messages from GLaDOS and visual elements found in rooms on different levels. The game starts off with Chell awaking from a stasis bed while hear instructions and warnings from GLaDOS about the test. Chell is promised cake and counseling as a reward for completion of all the test chambers. GLaDOS interacts with Chell throughout the game to instruct her and help with progress. The dialogue from GLaDOS is very dry and is quite humorous. 

I won't give any details as to the ending of the game for those who may haven't yet experienced this wonderful gem. All I can say is that it's incredible and I highly recommend that everyone play it. 

I love how creative Portal is with its puzzles requiring critical thinking from the player in order to move on. This is definitely a game where problem solving is a key aspect so it gets the brain working. I finished the game thoroughly entertained and felt a bit smarter that's for sure.

Screenshot from level 17 of Portal. The player is holding the portal gun. The orange and blue portals are both open. The typical game environment can be seen. The Weighted Companion Cube which is covered in six hearts (you can only see two) is unique to this level. 

Portal has won several awards for being Best Puzzle Game including Game of the Year at the Game Developers Choice Awards in 2008. GamePro honored the game for Most Memorable Villains (for GLaDOS) for their 2007 Editors' Choice Awards and trust me, you'll never forget GLaDOS.

 

Our Rating
10
Portal is a puzzle masterpiece video game.

Featured Columnist

Venisia is really just a kid in adult form. She is a published author, photographer, artist, executive assistant, public relations coordinator, game writer, gamer of 35+ years, geek, nerd, singer, dancer, senior editor, freelance journalist, comic & film aficionado, podcaster, activist, and volunteer. Venisia is a huge fan of comics, anime, EVERY genre of gaming, dance, horror/martial arts films, Doctor Who, Daleks, Star Wars, Monty Python, Flash Gordon, Black Dynamite, and anything by Mel Brooks (who doesn't appreciate Spaceballs?).

Published Feb. 10th 2014

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