This is a screenshot of Portal, featuring the player looking through an orange portal and seeing the player's character looking through an orange portal and seeing the player's character looking through an orange portal and seeing the player's character looking through an orange portal and seeing the player's character looking through an orange portal and seeing the player's character looking through an orange portal ad infinitum.

Portal Review

Genre | Puzzle, Platformer
Developer | Valve Corporation
Platforms | PC, Linux, OSX, PS3, XBOX 360

In Portal, the player controls a character in a testing facility made up of a series of test chambers. The player uses a device that creates the eponymous portals on flat surfaces. The player can enter one portal and exit the other so as to traverse through the world in contradiction to the rules of Euclidean geometrical space. This device allows the player to solve puzzle in each test chamber and progress to the end of the game. 

Portal is played from a first person perspective. The portal device can create up to two portals at a time. In addition to using the portal device, the player is able to press buttons and pick up weighted cubes in certain test chambers. The cubes can be used to depress pressure sensitive buttons, block lasers, and for other purposes. There are nineteen test chambers in the game. Six of the test chambers have alternate, more challenging versions that can be played after the player has completed them.

As the player progresses through the game, they learn details about the facility they are in. The player is led through the test chambers by a robotic voice that speaks to the player about various subjects. The player’s character does not respond audibly to this robotic voice.

The graphics in Portal are in a realistic style. The test chambers are often white or dark metal. The different colors of the surfaces communicate to the player which surfaces can have portals placed on them and which surfaces cannot. The sounds in Portal are mostly the noises of the various devices in the test chambers functioning, and the sound of the robotic voice talking to the player. Some of the devices in the game also speak to the player. The music in Portal is electronic in style.

The dialog in Portal is often humorous in nature. The main kinds of humor in the game are sarcasm and anomalous non sequiturs that imply situations contrary to the player’s preconceived expectations, particularly expectations about the proper way to characterize the nature of the situation the player is in. For instance, there are references to cake in the game, although the game consists of situations which imply a gravity that belies the appropriateness of cake as a consideration worth mentioning.

This is a score for an objective game review. The score is a 9 out of 10.