In 2007 Steam released “The Orange Box” which contained the highly anticipated episodic sequels to the Half Life 2 game, Episodes 1 and 2, as well as the highly successful (and still played to this day) capture the flag game Team Fortress 2, as well as a surprise hit: Portal.
In Portal you play as a mute test subject named “Chell,” who is tasked with solving various test chambers to get from Point A to Point B. It starts off easily enough, grab box 1, put on button B to open door X, but soon you are given the portal gun and things quickly get more complicated as you are now able to shoot a blue (and eventually also the orange) colored portal on the wall so you can jump in and out of different rooms and traps to pop out anywhere else in the test chamber.
You are directed by a computer system named GLaDOS, who taunts you the entire way through the game while also giving you “helpful” hints, such as “the floor has deadly poison on it, try not to die” (I am relaying this from memory so that’s not an exact quote, but a paraphrase).
Without giving much away it’s fairly easy to assume that GLaDOS is not your friend and is not on your side, and she intends to test your skills as long as she can, despite her tests being fairly… lethal.
Portal has been called the “spiritual successor” to a freeware game called “Narbacular Drop” and follows a similar play style. You use portals to solve 3D puzzles to get from Point A to Point B in rooms with deadly consequences for failure.
Being only released 2 years prior to Portal, the developing team quickly caught the attention of Valve Co-founder and president Gabe Newell, and they were all promptly offered jobs with Valve. The team of only ten people, helped along with Half-Life series writer Mark Laidlow enabled Narbacular Drop to quickly evolve into Portal, though it is still possible to find a free (Windows) download of Narbacular Drop at Digipen’s website HERE if you are interested in playing it.
The game was wildly successful on release and has spawned several fan-made spin-offs, such as Portal The Flash Version (https://portal.wecreatestuff.com/)(which later got it’s own 3D downloadable map pack you can add to the Windows version), as well as Portal Prelude (http://www.portalprelude.com/) which is a fan-fiction “Prequel” to the original Portal Game. All versions are worth a try, but I will mention that if Portal is a 6 in difficulty, I would put Portal the Flash Version at a 6.5, the Portal Flash Map Pack at a 7 and Portal Prelude at an 8.
Personally I LOVE the Portal series as much as I love the Half Life series and feel that if you’re a fan of puzzles and First Person Shooter games on PC you should most definitely give this game a play!
HowLongToBeat.com gives Portal a 3-½ hour average to finish based on player polling, so it’s a relatively short game to finish, and since it’s been out for 13 years and is a Speed-runner’s favorite game to play, there are plenty of resources available if you happen to get stuck on a particular part of the game.
All in all, the Portal series has been a set of games that I’ve been happily playing and finishing ever since I discovered the original in the Orange Box, and I will definitely sing the praises of our Savior, the Companion Cube, who cannot talk and will never stab you.