The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
*SPOILER ALERT* This
blog will discuss various aspects of Portal - and while I don't specifically
reveal any critical bits of information that would otherwise reveal the ending
or other vital components of the game, I do mention some thoughts, feelings and
emotions the game can produce. Read at your own risk.
I almost hesitate to call myself a gamer admitting that
until just a few days ago, I never really played Portal. In my defense, Portal
came bundled in Valve's "The Orange Box" (I play it on the PC
version), which was chock full of gaming goodness. Other than a casual
observance of the first few minutes of game play, it sat there in my Steam
Browser while I was busy playing Half Life Episode 2 and Team Fortress 2. As
time soldiered on, new games came out that caught my attention, demanded my
time and refocused my efforts elsewhere.
For those who may not know the premise behind Portal (which
I can't imagine there is anyone who doesn't), here is a brief summary:
Portal is a single-player
first-person action/puzzle video game developed by Valve Corporation. The game
was released in a bundle package called The Orange
Box for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 on October 9, 2007, and for the
PlayStation 3 on December 11, 2007. The Windows version of the game is also
available for download separately through Valve's content delivery system Steam
and was released as a standalone retail product on April 9, 2008. A stand-alone
version called "Still Alive" was released on the Xbox 360 Live Arcade system on October 22, 2008; this version includes
an additional fourteen puzzles.
The game consists
primarily 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 ("ASHPD", also dubbed the "portal gun"), a unit that
can create inter-spatial portals between flat planes. The player character is
challenged by an AI named "GLaDOS" to complete each puzzle in the
"Aperture Science Computer-Aided
using the portal gun with the promise of receiving cake when all the puzzles
The portal gun reminds me of the old Wile E. Coyote and
Roadrunner cartoons with the Acme portable hole (there's that originality issue
peeking through again). Oh, the shenanigans of those two. Am I the only one who
ever wondered if the coyote had money to buy all these fancy gadgets to catch
dinner, couldn't he just buy a pizza?
(I know, it's not a portable hole - but Google could not find it...honest. So I improvised.)
Game Informer recently broke the news of a Portal 2. The
community is buzzing with excitement. And even though the mention of a holiday
release is still months away, I decided now was as good of a time as any to
fire up the original and see what it was all about; finally understand the
whole, "The Cake is a Lie" bit.
Three days later. It's done. I'm finished. I'm blown away. I
want more. I'm longing for Portal 2. I understand now. I understand and feel
guilty for not giving this jewel more attention when it was first released.
It was a powerful experience. It's the kind of game...scratch
that...I don't know that you could even classify it a game. It's more of a
virtual reality simulator, but for the sake of the discussion I will continue
calling it a game. On the surface it might appear to be nothing more than a
simple puzzle game, but it is truly so much more. The feelings and emotions
that it made me feel in an otherwise sterile and bland environment is simply
amazing. By bland and sterile, I only mean that there are no big flashy
weapons, no diverse alien races and no exotic maps or levels. Yet, as I played
through the puzzles, I became so engrossed with it, I didn't even notice.
Any developer who can create a game that can inspire a bond
between your character and an inanimate object (in this case, the Weighted
Companion Cube) should stand up right now, take a bow and pat themselves on the
back. I was so absorbed with GLaDOS and listening to her guidance that when it
came time to destroy my personal Weighted Companion Cube, I was angry. I went
back through the whole level looking for an out, but could not find any way to
preserve and protect my beloved cube (if there is one, please tell me).
Eventually, I succumbed to the inevitable task of destroying it, yet I was
angry for having to do so. (I'm sure that is the affect the developers were
Later in the game, there are these little (what I call cute
and cuddly) automated turrets. Granted they are ferocious little buggers with
machine guns. They will tear you a new one in no time flat, but if you pause
for just a moment and listen to their sweet angelic voices, you (or at least I
did) become somewhat attached to them and feel a tingle of guilt as you dispose
While I can tell you they say phrases like, “I don't hate
you; Please put me down; Are you still there; and Could you come over here“ - Unless
you hear (or have heard) their sweet and innocent little voice boxes purr, you
have no idea what I’m talking about.
I read a blog here at GIO a few days ago that asked if a
game ever made you cry (I'm too lazy to search for it now). I can't think of a
game that made me cry (though I thought the opening to Max Payne was pretty
upsetting) and Portal certainly didn't come close to making me cry, but the
emotion I felt over this game was unique and quite refreshing. It created such
an unusual bond with the various components; I can’t even really explain it.
Words simply don’t do it justice. Of course, the more you play it you become
aware that everything is not what it seems until finally, just when you think
the game is over, it really begins.
Now that I've beat it...I don't know whether to feel relieved...or
One thing is for certain...the cake is a lie.
Still Alive? (Nice song by the way)
If you have played Portal (or perhaps another game) and have
a similar experience as far as the emotional connection, feel free to share your
thoughts. I’d love to hear them.