Speedy Thing Go In, Speedy Thing Come Out – Thoughts On Portal

May 2, 2011

Yeah, Portal. The first one. I’m late to the party, I know. While folks were finishing or have already finished the sequel late last week, I was just in the process of playing the original game for the first time ever, thanks to Anjin of Bullet Points, who gifted me the free Steam copy he got for pre-ordering Portal 2.

Though I’ve never played it, I’m aware of the context behind many of the memes this game has spawned over the last few years. I don’t think you can be a denizen of the net and not be familiar with phrases like “the cake is a lie” or the image of the hearts-bedecked Weighted Companion Cube. I also knew of the game’s concept, have seen the footage and watched briefly as other people played it, but it wasn’t until that I actually finished it for myself that I finally, truly began to understand the enormous popularity behind Portal.

It was bloody fun. I love obstacles and puzzle-type games, and the unusual physics in this game was exhilarating in both its innovation and simplicity. And what I didn’t expect was the humor — the dark and nebulous kind, ah, my favorite! By the time the credits were scrolling down my computer screen to the best game ending song ever, I was laughing so hard I almost had tears in my eyes. That’s not how I expected to finish this game — well, any game — at all.

I was also impressed by Portal’s entertaining, albeit short, storyline. Again, the storytelling was just so clever in its simplicity. I finished the game in a little more than 3 hours, but I didn’t mind; it was like settling back with a mini novella on a nice evening.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and start shopping around for good deals on Portal 2 now.


  1. :banana:

  2. To my tastes Portal is far and away the best overall game I’ve played in the last few years. I can’t say I’ve replayed it a lot, but the experience I had my first time through was absolutely brilliant. Incredibly well designed gameplay, and an utterly entertaining darkly humorous story.

    • Agreed, it’s certainly one of the more original games in terms of story and concept I’ve ever played, even after more than 3 years after it’s come out.

  3. Hmm, Mr. Google tells me that Amazon currently has the best prices, with Gamestop not far behind (few bux). The PC version is the cheapest, and PS3/Xbox tied at like five dollars more. Ironically, Steam has the worst price available o.O

    Portal 2 is quite long compared to the original, the humor is ramped up by a large amount, and there’s more there for inquisivie people like you to nudge around and look ‘behind the scenes’ like the Rat Man dens allowed you to do in the first game. Also, there is a *lot* of dialog you can hear simply by standing there and listening that you would otherwise miss by just completeing stuff right away. Like at the end of Portal, you could chuck the cores right away, or you could hold onto them the whole time and hear what they have to say 😀

    • Yes, I was looking the PC edition at Amazon too, $29.99 is a pretty damn good price, I think I’ll order it. It is kinda funny about Steam, but they’re probably not keen on putting a sale on that game so soon 😛

      I inferred from the price that Portal 2 will be longer, but good to hear about the ramped up humor and little things like that to discover.

  4. I still want to play them both, I remember my son playing the first, he loved it. I’ve watched a lot of the second and it is hilarious. I just love it, I have so many games I’m messing around with it is hard to pick up another just yet!

    • It IS hilarious! I didn’t see that part of it coming at all. I think I expected it to be a puzzle game, and that was about it. Didn’t expect anything close to like a story.

  5. Portal was such a great surprise to me. I’m not a fan of puzzle games or platformers, those genres inspired a ridiculous amount of frustration and rage in me. I bought the Orange Box for Half-life 2, but Portal was the game I enjoyed the most. Like you mentioned the humor was excellent, but it’s also one of the few puzzle games that properly educates you with the information you need to solve puzzles. Most games seem to do a little bit of that but it seems like there’s always one puzzle where they change a basic assumption that’s worked throughout the game so far but don’t tell you.

    I ordered the PC version from Amazon, hopefully once it shows up I can register the key in Steam and download it and not worry about the disc at all. That feels wasteful to me, but it was too good of a deal to pass up.

    • Ahh, I love puzzle games. They can be frustrating, but once you solve them I just love that feeling of satisfaction. So in retrospect, Portal was really right up my alley.

      I’m probably going to make my purchase at Amazon. I think it’s going to work out the way you described, just like my copy of Fallout New Vegas did. I wonder how long the sale is going to last…when you get your copy, will you let me know how it turns out?

  6. Portal is a prime example that solid gameplay does not need to last 80hours (or whatever) to feel ‘worth it’ to buy and play. I think many modern games suffer from bloat of mediocrity, and Portal was so refreshing in that it was just 100% quality for the entire (short) experience.

    • I couldn’t have said it better 🙂 Simple as it was, it was a breath of fresh air.

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