Review - Portal (Steam, 2008)
A masterclass in level design, pacing, and dark humor
Portal was originally released as an extra in Valve’s Orange Box, thrown in as what was described by many as a sort of apology for the long wait in between Half-Life episodes. But this first person puzzle platformer became a hit in its own right, inspiring fan adulation and eventually a full-fledged sequel. And now I understand why. The central conceit of the portal technology is fresh and unique; the mechanics are a hell of a lot of fun, the audio/visual presentation is flawless, and the writing is some of the most clever and funny stuff I’ve ever seen in a game.
When something is as popular and memetic as this, I admit I usually go in with a degree of hesitancy. But Portal overcame my bias with solid level design and enthralled me with its amazing pacing. This is something that every person, regardless of whether they self-identify as a “gamer,” should experience for themselves.