As I noted in my previous post PC gaming is amazing, but has been around for 25 years. Console games naturally limit what games you can play. Your Crash Bandicoot copy from PS1 doesn’t work on your PS4. (Although with virtual consoles and online stores… consoles may have the same problem soon too) And it’s a good problem! There are so many games, so I figured I would start out with my all time favorite games: Portal & Portal 2
Portal was released in 2007 by Valve. For PC gamers, Valve is sorta a big deal, Not only have they created some of the best and most popular games out there for PC’s (Team fortress, Half-Life, Dota 2, Counter Strike, Left 4 dead, and many more) But Valve is the company that runs Steam. Steam is where you will likely buy and launch most, if not all, of your PC games.
The basic plot of Portal is that you are Chell, a virtually unknown female protagonist, stuck in a large scientific testing facility run by a company called Aperture Science. You are accompanied by the instruction and torment of a sassy robot administrator named GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) And while GLaDOS would love for you to be her test subject forever, Chell has different plans. GLaDOS resorts to insults, begging, and bribing you with cake all to keep you testing, FOR SCIENCE!
Chell never speaks a word and everything you learn about Chell comes from the evil computer lady. While the basic synopsis is pretty basic, a true gem in this game is the humor and wit. The lines that GLaDOS spits out while you fail over and over again in these test chambers was the first time I laughed at a game, (other than something being like so bad/cheesy it’s funny.) I laughed because the brains at Valve wanted me to, and they did their job well.
It is a lot of fun!
I don’t want to spoil any of the quotes or plot points, but trust me, it is a truly entertaining game. And entertaining on the same level that a well crafted TV show or movie. There are other games I find hilarious out there, but often humor in video games is the gateway to a gimmick or short lived idea. For example, Octodad – Dadliest catch. This game is funny no doubt… but most of its humor comes from the mechanics being difficult on purpose and over the top dialogue. It was worth a few giggles, but I didn’t feel accomplished when winning this game. Still love Octodad, it just has a different goal to its players.
But portal, while hilarious, I do not consider it a comedy game. It still has a somewhat serious tone in the testing and impending doom to Chell if you never escape. The environment is completely spot on and the testing chambers look like what you’d expect. All white rooms, sleek looking robot turrets, panels that come out of the walls and floors at the touch of a button.
Why it is called Portal
But you cannot talk about Portal, without talking about the shining glory of this game… the portals.
Now I typically get lost with games in their plots and reading text and blah blah blah! Most stories just don’t captivate me through video games. Go see Karthas’s posts on Lore from Destiny. He Loves stories. And he spends a lot of time finding out details about these worlds… I would rather just charge into the action.
Making the assumption that you have never seen, nor played Portal, I will explain what the portals are. Chell is armed with an Aperture Science-created Portal Gun. This gun is not to fire at enemies, but walls and floors and stuff. Your gun can shoot an orange beam and a blue beam.
Once you shoot both, you’ve opened a portal from one to the other.
See my awesome stick drawing below to show my point.
I suck at art… but I’m good at portal. Plus if you don’t understand… that just means that you have to go play the game for yourself. The thing I always love about portal is there is an adequate amount of pacing. What I mean by this is there isn’t a tutorial that takes way too long and you are frustrated before you get to the real game. As you march your way through they typically introduce a new mechanic and tell you exactly how it can be used… But then all of a sudden… the way you’ve used that same mechanic doesn’t quite hit the mark and you can’t get to the exit.
So Valve leaves you with just enough breathing room to experiment and use this new tool in a totally different way. I think the gameplay captures the aesthetic so well. I actually feel like each level is a test, I feel like a scientist is actually watching me, knowing the answer, but it’s a test of my problem-solving ability.
In 2011 Valve released an equally amazing, if not better, sequel to Portal. Portal 2. Portal 2 takes Chell and GLaDOS and pairs them with more amazing Aperture science characters such as Wheatley. Wheatley greets you in Portal 2 trying to aid your escape. Again I won’t dig too much into plots, but again humor and wit out the wazoo. You also sorta meet my personal favorite, Cave Johnson. I say sorta, because Cave Johnson is just a series of recordings that are played from time’s past. But nevertheless Portal 2 still has an amazing opportunity for puzzle-fans, problem solvers, and clever thinking. The other amazing thing about portal is the Co-op campaign.
On top of the already awesome solo campaign, In portal 2 you can play with a friend as Atlas and P-Body. Two Robots thrown into the testing world at the mercy of GLaDOS and her harsh, but dry, criticism. The co-op campaign takes some of the mechanics you already know and further twists and complicates them as you now have 4 portals to play with. Play this with someone you have patience with, because you will accidentally kill your friend at least 40 times. And if a solo story mode and co-op campaign weren’t enough. Portal-fans are still creating community levels to this very day.
The community workshop levels are really my only complaint about the Portal series. Its so awesome to have a potentially endless supply of levels, but the interface makes it a little difficult to find good levels and download them and experience them. Its ultimately still worth it to those who can’t get enough of portal-problem solving euphoria. Just a bit clunky at times.
Portal is legitimately my most favorite game. I sometimes get sad because when I replay it I already know some of the tips and tricks. I tell people that I wish I could erase the game from my memory to rediscover it. The first time you figure out that new mechanic is just amazing and indescribable. Its a game that makes you feel intelligent when you figure it out. I’ve played through both games 3 times each and its still amazing, but nothing will ever be as perfect as when I first solved that first puzzle after dozens of deaths.
Again, I know I left a lot of details out, but it’s in hopes that if you do play this, the completely new experience is worth my vagueness.
Thanks again guys for reading my post. If you have ideas of games you want to hear about let us know. And in the meantime go check out the other posts on the site.
I hope to start streaming on twitch soon and want to meet and play League of Legends or other games with some peeps.
Much Love, Kingblunkers