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Portal

Developer / Publisher: Valve Corporation
10 October 2007
Portal - cover art
Glitchwave rating
4.09 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
6,529 Ratings / 17 Reviews
#114 All-time
#4 for 2007
A woman wakes up in Aperture Science's laboratory and is instructed by a mysterious artificial intelligence named GLaDOS to complete a series of puzzles using the Portal Gun.
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This is a game so obviously good it's probably a waste of time to prattle on about in a formal way. Instead, I'll just share some of my experiences with the game and how I think it holds up on my playthrough of it yesterday, the 12th of August, 2019.

I first played through this game in the most abominable way possible - by way of the console port of The Orange Box for Xbox 360 back in 2008. Although the controls limited some functionality and it wasn't nearly as pretty or smooth as the PC original, I was utterly obsessed with the original Portal and how unique it was. It took the industrial horror influence of Valve's previous Half-Life series and painted over it with a pristine, hostile white, letting it slowly chip away and erode along with your feelings of security and comfort. Portal is not about being tested, it is about the nature of testing - being a pawn for some hidden authority, the isolation and disconnect from reality, the helplessness and desire for escape.

What helps sell the setting of Aperture Science is not a lengthy campaign with rigorous puzzles and world building, it's actually how far GLaDoS goes to prevent you from figuring out what's going on, and how fantastic the pacing of this "paint peeling back" occurs over the utterly cinematic 2-hour runtime of the game. There are essentially 3 acts of the game: 1) simple puzzles and building the Portal skillset, 2) being confronted with the fact that you are being misled by your AI companion by way of the Ratman's lairs and her gradual accumulation of lies to you, and 3) executing the escape when you are left with no other choice, using what you have learned to break out of the facility. This is done so goddamn well that I still can't believe this isn't a film yet, and none of it is accomplished through cutscenes or scripted sequences. Your perspective is never altered, and it is up to you to make these events happen in real time. When you're finally in control of your escape and on your way to freedom, you find that the reason for your particpation in this sadistic game was simply to test this tech so Aperture Science had more leverage in corporate warfare with Black Mesa over DoD contract work. You, the individual, were nothing but a disposable tool for profit margins.

The most underrated portion of this game to me is the sound design. Outside of one of the actual best ambient soundtracks in the history of music, with tracks that knaw at your insecurities as a test subject in a confined space and amplify the sci-fi thriller pacing, every sound effect is outstanding and leaves a mental impression. I think many people who have played this game can remember the sound of a Portal being deployed, of a switch being depressed, of the energy ball keys flying around the test chambers, of the off-kilter moan of the elevator moving you to a new floor. Of course, just like its mechanical evolution and story twists, the music abruptly hits a stride and becomes HL2-inspired adrenaline pumping electronica that lets you know that you are in DANGER and need to act. Above all else, Valve managed to make a game that was carried plot-wise by a single character with voice lines in GLaDoS, who is outstandingly written and conveys her gradual loss of control in a very convincing and creepy way. The mechanical hum of her voice and Microsoft Reader-esque way that certain words are always enunciated gives a serious HAL-9000 vibe to her character. The way her voice flips when you melt her morality core is also just sinister and incredible voice acting work by actress Ellen McLain. From an audio standpoint, Portal might top Valve's already outstanding resume of sound design.

The only things that hold this game back from being completely flawless for me are the omnipresence of the janky Source engine when interacting with stuff like cubes that regularly remind me this is not just a game but an old one, and the overall low difficulty of the test chambers before they let you loose through Aperture, as the puzzles after you receive both ends of the portal gun ramp up slightly and then plateau. Outside of those minor complaints, I don't think you'll find a better 2 hours of game anywhere else in the world. Despite being published by a major force in the industry in 2007, Portal's success and popularity was a sign the gaming world was ready for the avant-garde and surreal. This is one of the most developed concepts and executions in gaming history.
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the_lockpick 2017-12-31T07:10:06Z
2017-12-31T07:10:06Z
4.5
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they don't make games like this anymore :(
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amauralho 2024-02-08T19:29:49Z
2024-02-08T19:29:49Z
4.5
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Video games center struggle in a way few mediums can. Struggling with a game is core to your interaction with it. But even with that in play, games expect some degree of cooperation.

Portal is a breakup story between you and a computer. It is masked by a layer of abstraction, like all good sci-fi stories are. But who of us hasn't tried to leave a draining relationship? Who hasn't clung or been clung to in fear, hated or been hated for leaving or letting go? If you loved someone, really loved them, would you let them incinerate you?
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BIDDYFOX_FROM_MIDI_BUNNY 2023-11-05T01:40:34Z
2023-11-05T01:40:34Z
5.0
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Oh, how I want to give this game a perfect score because I love what it brings to the table. Unfortunately, it's far too short for me to do so, something I would overlook if it were a 16 bit game but I can't because it came out as recently as 2007.

This honestly feels like a warmup to the brilliant sequel as while the humour and puzzles are amazing here, they're effortlessly topped in that game due to that having a more compelling story as opposed to here where the only story is when our hero realises she's the victim of a sadistic prank pulled on her by a murderous computer and her needing to destroy her captor in order to escape from her torment. As dark as that synopsis sounds, I can assure you that this might be one of the funniest games I've ever played thanks to how much of a joy it is listening to the sarcastic quips of our main villain Glados. There's somewhat of a mystery before her true intentions are shown in different secret areas of the game, although it's quite obvious she's the villain the moment you hear her voice so it’s not like I’m spoiling anything here. I feel this is a spin of half-life not just because it runs on the same engine, but also due to having a silent protagonist trapped in a science facility with technology similar to that found in black mesa and eventually used by the combine in the sequel. The main difference of course is that this is strictly a puzzle platformer with no fighting elements to be found, although I wouldn't put it past valve to have these two series meet up as one somewhere down the line.

Had the game been longer and maybe have a multiplayer mode, it would be perfect. Naturally this is what the sequel did, making this a testing ground more than anything else.
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Foxylover92 2021-06-23T00:16:59Z
2021-06-23T00:16:59Z
4.0
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lattenzo 2023-10-12T06:54:40Z
2023-10-12T06:54:40Z
5.0
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yoitu 2023-10-04T13:16:17Z
2023-10-04T13:16:17Z
›95%
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Catalog

Les_Lolis_Noires Portal 2024-03-01T13:22:03Z
2024-03-01T13:22:03Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
jj4ckk Portal 2024-03-01T02:25:18Z
2024-03-01T02:25:18Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
hiraeth00 Portal 2024-03-01T01:52:41Z
2024-03-01T01:52:41Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Byronios Portal 2024-02-29T09:18:17Z
2024-02-29T09:18:17Z
8.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Anubid Portal 2024-02-29T07:02:48Z
2024-02-29T07:02:48Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Condet Portal 2024-02-29T02:32:21Z
2024-02-29T02:32:21Z
5.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Skudlas Portal 2024-02-28T23:13:45Z
2024-02-28T23:13:45Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dubsteppcat Portal 2024-02-28T19:33:34Z
2024-02-28T19:33:34Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
toadbidu Portal 2024-02-28T15:22:57Z
2024-02-28T15:22:57Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Kapitan_Pazur Portal 2024-02-27T14:10:13Z
2024-02-27T14:10:13Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
flatminded Portal 2024-02-26T19:40:27Z
2024-02-26T19:40:27Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Yorios Portal 2024-02-26T15:24:19Z
2024-02-26T15:24:19Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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  • Previous comments (69) Loading...
  • mohee 2023-12-12 11:42:40.331218+00
    maybe a perfect game? not perfect for me (i don't have it rated 10/10) but i really can't see any flaws, nothing i'd want to change about this.
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  • WinterMirage 2024-01-02 11:01:11.161696+00
    On replay, I liked it less than before. Main drawback being the puzzles are too simple and the parts where you escape the test rooms are nothing more than pixel hunting for where the next white wall is (An issue permeated in tye sequel. Valve never manages to make everything outside the test rooms as interesting throughout this series). Still the mood and short runtime makes it a gentle, if often basic, game to play.
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  • finemotorsmiff 2024-01-08 05:32:21.192053+00
    frutiger aero
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    • thm_yrk12 2024-01-13 12:11:53.417914+00
      i dont see it
    • AxeWorld 2024-01-18 20:17:14.425299+00
      cease
    • finemotorsmiff 2024-01-26 22:38:17.537168+00
      Hmm, I think it's at least frutiger aero-adjacent. I see it in the color palette and the soft curved designs of things like turrets, emancipation grills, the portal gun itself, etc. But Aperture Labs is a pretty cold and lifeless space. The game world feels too pessimistic to fully match the aesthetic
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  • ColtXplosion 2024-01-31 15:39:58.885585+00
    for anyone unaware you can use the console command "portal_disable_radios 1" to prevent the radios from spawning.

    I believe the radio in the first room is always there, and if you do this during the game the radios wont immediately disappear, but they won't spawn the next time the game loads an area
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  • icecrumbs 2024-02-12 22:56:13.26134+00
    Still the greatest video game of all time by an absurdly wide margin
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  • vivus 2024-02-14 18:20:45.359957+00
    i'd think that i like portal 2 more but the more i play this game the less certain i am of that; i don't know if i could think of another game so extremely concise and solid like this game is.. unbelievable atmosphere too
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  • PrivateJoker 2024-02-15 07:49:52.117608+00
    I hadn't played it in many, many years, and I remembered it being longer and more difficult, so I was surprised when I arrived at the final boss so quickly and easily. I love the setting, writing, and gameplay, although I think the second game blows it out of the water in pretty much every regard.
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