I replayed Portal after 14 years and it is still a videogame masterpiece. (Review)

in Hive Gaming11 days ago (edited)

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This review assumes that you have already played Portal and contains spoilers about the plot.


Portal is perhaps one of my favorite games, not for being extensive or for having an overwhelming amount of content, just for being beautiful, small and have well established its objectives with the player, a game that lacks nothing and has nothing to spare that thrives on a well developed mechanics to introduce us to everything else, the portal gun is one of the most recognizable elements of the entire world of videogames but also serves as a tool to immerse us in other variables of the game as the story or level design, when I entered Portal I came from playing some Call Of Duty games, that conditioned me to expect some spectacular action in Portal, instead I was introduced to a space in principle quiet and with simple short-term goals, a dynamic between first-person shooters and Puzzles with a charming aura while distressing.

Today I miss more than ever the work of developers like Valve thanks to these games that breathed originality for all its features and I would like to give an analysis of how a game of no more than 2 hours had such a resounding success. To understand this you have to understand the moment that the developers at Valve were going through back in 2006, their Steam platform was starting to pay dividends mainly because of the independent developers that used it to launch new games as well as the community of modders that updated other Valve games or made modifications to them. Also the developer was about to release the second chapter of an acclaimed title: Half-Life 2 as well as an update of its Team Fortress 2, several projects in simultaneous that make me see even more amazing that Valve could make room for a title as amazing as Portal, which was to be released simultaneously with the two previous titles (Half Life 2: Episode 2 and Team Fortress) in a pack known as The Orange Box, which may be one of the best releases in the entire history of videogames.

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Let's focus on Portal, the game opens with a sequence of a character waking up in a room of the Aperture Science test lab and from the beginning with the radio and the objects inside the room we have clear what will be the tone of the game, if Half-Life was focused on being dramatic and being more serious, Portal on the other hand expects to be fun and not put tension in the beginning, our character, as is customary in Valve games, is mute so that the player can project into the game that will only have the voice of our only companion GLaDOS that works both comic relief and voice to guide us both to the tests with the new technology of portals and by the laboratory of puzzles to gradually discover what happened to Aperture Science.

The gameplay is perhaps the highlight of this game, we have a series of puzzles that we must solve with the help of our portal gun with which we can shoot and open doors on the stage, something that surprised me a lot the first time I played was that the physics allow the portals to maintain the kinetics in jumps and falls, this allows the portals to be used in many different ways and not only for the typical that is to move quickly, In general the physics of this game are very similar to those of what is considered its spiritual prequel (Narbacular Drop, next post-analysis), the point is that the game progressively changes your way of thinking and using the portals in each level, they introduce mechanics firmly but giving space to the player to become familiar and can use them in the puzzles later.


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Speaking of level design, this section seems to me impeccable by Valve, the designs of the puzzles linked with objects or areas in which they occur seems to me that contribute much to the feeling of the game, Many of the levels the first areas are simply to reinforce the player the logic of the portal gun to go up more and more difficulty to be able to face puzzles that combine our accuracy with the gun along with physics and objects like the cube company that we escort through the stage adding a new variable that we must be attentive. Puzzle levels are combined with much more rustic levels later in the game when we venture through the bowels of the laboratory that along with the unpredictable voice of GLaDOS adds nuances to both the story and gameplay.


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A point in favor I think is that the Puzzles are never monotonous even though they depend on a single mechanic (the portals), although they become more complex I think Valve's work prefers to be creative and original before really challenging us, that even though it sounds like a negative point I think it is positive for the type of audience to which this game is aimed. It doesn't try to make the tests easier at any time, but rather it increases the difficulty and explains simple concepts of the portals' capacity in each area you visit.

In the graphic section there is not much to say, it is successful without standing out too much, the Source engine that Valve used on that occasion was already being surpassed by the new generation (360 and PS3) but here I think it fulfills its purpose, I think Valve wanted to make a game for quick consumption, almost like an experiment, so they decided not to make the graphics shine so much in this installment (something that would improve a lot in the second game).

Another section that I find discreet in this installment while interesting is the story, which is limited only to the voice of GLaDOS and the clues that we find in the abandoned laboratory of Aperture Science but are sufficient to build a Lore and nurture a fanbase, from certain areas we can go deeper and deeper into the depths of the test area and see writings on the walls as well as clues of the scientists and what happened to them, is perhaps the most subtle section of the game but that Valve develops in the sequel decently, it is also true that the length of Portal does not encourage much to tell a story and that the experimental status of this game also limited the developer to tell an interesting plot.


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I have already spoken before about Valve's virtues when it comes to making video games that set a course in the industry and perhaps here I will make a parenthesis, although Portal did not mark the industry for being a small and contained project, it is a solid game and one of the best developments in history to the point of rivaling Half-Life in popularity, being an accessible video game, entertaining and with a well established learning curve I can see how Valve is one of the leaders when it comes to raise gameplay mechanics and apply them in a way that is easy to understand for players, Portal being a small product comes to overflowing with originality and charisma in all its aspects, a timeless game that does not lack or lack anything, although perhaps it lacks a third installment...


Thanks for visit my post, this has been an analysis that has made me revisit this gem and I have been able to appreciate it much more, the first time I played it was purely by chance after leaving class in a game store and from the first moment I loved it, maybe in the future I will complete the sequel and make an analysis. If you liked this post don't forget to leave me a comment and follow me for more content like this in The Hive!

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Portal really was a surprise when it came out. I don't think anyone expected it to be what it was. I remember discovering it through a friend who had gotten the Orange Box for his PS2. We were in awe at this game. I played it myself years later on the PC. I spent so much time looking for secret ways behind walls and stuff. Hidden platforms to place a portal on. Same with Portal 2.

The first time I played Portal was in a game store that rented a PC for a few hours to play games like Counter-Strike or CoD, everyone was waiting for the second chapter of Half Life 2 and Valve surprised us by giving the Orange Box, I could not finish it until years later when I bought my own PC, and I still want to play Portal 2 again, at the time I never got to complete it because of my school exams but now would be a good time to give it a review. Thanks for the comment!

reading the 14-year-old title and seeing screenshots, looked like a new game. Surely it would have been the best of its time. If I got the chance will check too.

let's say that the Source graphic engine was very dynamic to update and make the textures of Valve games look better, even today you can see Mods of different games where they improve the graphics of games like Half Life but I have no doubt that it is thanks to the talent of the Valve team that this game can still look decent compared to what we see today.

Portal is one of the great jewels that Valve has had, it is certainly a game worth remembering and replaying as many times as possible, although it does not show such a clear story it becomes so intuitive that you are easily able to know what is happening around you, as it happens in other games of the company. The most curious thing is that the universe between Portal and Half life is the same. The puzzles are a marvel and are the best way to put our mind and reflexes to work.

As I said in the post, Portal for me is more like an experiment of Valve, maybe that's why they didn't develop too much a concrete story but they left little details to theorize and to wait for a new release. Thanks for the comment!

It has a lot of details of its history but the truth is they are either minuscule or you have to think hard to decipher them, and I think for me that's what makes it even more interesting. I do think that someday there could be a future installment, if Half Life 3 comes out in 10 million years, Portal 3 has to come out.

Portal is an epic game and for me is one of the best created by valve, I feel that its gameplay and story is unique and does not depend on many characters or enemies to be fun, it is simply us against us.

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