Portal is a unique video game that blends a first-person shooter’s perspective with area puzzles. You are given a portal gun, which “shoots” two different color portals, one blue and the other orange; which allow you to walk in one and out the other, even if they are placed in very different locations in a given room. Conceptually, Portal deals heavily with how people view and traverse space. Perhaps there are some elements of science fiction in this story, but more importantly the ease of picking up the controller and learning how to play is, well, very easy. The puzzles themselves? Not so much. But with a little bit of logical thought, good timing, and some effort; beating Portal is no problem at all.
The game is actually the result of a group of students from DigiPen who had the opportunity to share their ideas with Valve, who ended up not only hiring the students; but also providing them a full budget to expand their ideas into a reality. From these humble beginnings comes an experience that has garnered fans in thralls.
Personally, I am not sure what I like better: the often sarcastic but rather sinister humor that plays into Portal, or the gameplay itself. Science and fun collide at Aperture Laboratories, except your character ends up in the midst of an uncanny situation. Much like your characters movement through the Portal spheres, the story that runs along this rather brief game is fluid, entertaining and quite unexpected; especially given the genre this game falls into.
The downfall of this game is that it is short to a troubling degree. It is quite frankly sad how short this game is, considering how much more involved it could have been. There are roughly ~20 levels, which require you to solve a puzzle, most of which are relatively easy to solve. While there is some extended play to be found in the form of “advanced” mode and new challenge levels (which are actually just older levels revised with some new elements), the game ultimately finds itself sitting somewhere between being a sheer novelty, and something that may better represent a demonstration of a potential future adaptation.
In the end, I see this game has having a unique concept, interesting and quirky gameplay, and enjoyable stages; but the experience simply does not last long enough to be thoroughly enjoyed as a game. I’d recommend checking this game out if you are a big fan of puzzles, or perhaps if you are just intrigued by the concept and gameplay. Fortunately, this game can be purchased in The Orange Box; which includes Half-Life 2, Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, and Team Fortress 2. With these additions, Portal becomes all the more worth your while.