Every now and again comes a game that is so different than other games that it immediately catches your eye. It's so revolutionary that you fall in love with it. Portal was that kind of game for me. Sure, in 2007 I played a lot of good games, but Portal stands above most of them in how fundamentally different it is. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past couple of months, you know how the gaming community has come to love this game. And for good reason too.
Portal's story is basically this: you are a test subject in a research lab who solves puzzles using this gun that can create two portals. If you enter one portal, you exit through the other one, so the basic idea is to shoot portals onto different surfaces to solve the puzzles. It's such a simple idea when you think about it, but it's a really cool idea. But this isn't what made the game great for me.
Sure, the graphics are pretty good. You get that feeling of being in a scientific area and the graphics really help portray that. The graphics are somewhat simple but very effective in that it creates that clean, yet spooky atmosphere. The music is alright, nothing special, mostly just ambient sounds to set the mood. The controls are pretty solid, move around with WASD, point with the mouse and shoot a portal with the click of the mouse. These are just nice aspects of the game, but it isn't what makes me really love this game.
What makes me love this game is the storyline and the spookiness of the atmosphere. The first voice you hear in the game is the voice of GLADOS, a computer that guides you through the game. It's all computerized and kind, but glitches now and then and kinda scares you a bit. She keeps telling you to keep going in order to get some cake. In one of the levels, she tells you that it is impossible to complete the level, but when you finish it, she congratulates you on being successful under pessimistic conditions. In all the rooms, you can see glass windows where there are seats so that people could watch you try to finish the puzzle. Things like that really make you feel like you are a guinea pig of some sort. You don't know what's really going on, but if you win, you get cake.
Then things get weirder. You start to see things that don't make sense, like a broken wall that leads into another room with weird writing on the wall, saying things like "the cake is a lie". As the game continues, more of these things are noticeable, and it really scared me. It's been a while since I've played a game that genuinely scared me. I was literally shaking throughout most of the game because around every corner, who knows what you will find. The developers do such a good job at creating a scary and disturbing atmosphere at all times.
There are these little robots that shoot you whenever you get in their line of vision. But they have such a sweet and innocent voice that it really disturbs you. Small things like these really set the mood. Then the final level is so crazy and epic, it's really hard for me to put into words without spoiling the ending. But when the fire pit comes, everything you know gets switched around and everything beyond that is really confusing. It messes with your mind. If you've played this game, you'll know what I mean.
Portal is this game that is really hard to explain. It's one of those games that you really have to play for yourself. This is a gaming experience that you can't miss. The game isn't really open to a sequel, you'll know this if you've played Portal to the end, which is too bad because I'd like to see a sequel to this short but awesome game. So go play this, you won't be disappointed.
Labels: game review