Welcome to the Vault! The Vault is a fun little place where video games and movies of the past come to dwell for me to bring up and review for your reading pleasure. Essentially this section is going to be reserved for any reviews of movies and video games that were released prior to the current year and will have an emphasis on whether or not they have withstood the test of time as a classic, will be remembered with a significant cult status, or will be forgotten for much better games and movies of the time. So with that being said, the first post I will pull out from the Vaults will be the video game that is heralded as one of the best video games of all time, Portal.
I only got a chance to play Portal recently. I know that is ludicrous, but it is just one of those moments where an amazing game or movie comes along and for whatever reason that could possibly exist, you just didn’t see it or play it. It could be you just missed the wave, it could be you were apathetic to the genre at the time, or it could be that you just kept putting it off. But, after so many years I got a chance to play Portal after my girlfriend purchased it for me during the Steam Summer Sale this year. After playing it, I do have to say that this game is truly a gem of its time and one of the best I have played in a very long time.
I feel like I do not need to give the plot of Portal as, even people who had not played the game, know the general gist of it. But in either case, in Portal, you are awakened by a computer who has the intention of using you as a test subject for Aperture Science. You are given a portal gun to test in various rooms all under the disguise that soon you will finish and be rewarded with cake. However, you quickly learn things are not right when you are put into tests against murderous turrets and cryptic messages left by a person telling you that the cake is a lie and that GLaDOS has nefarious intentions.
When it comes to challenge in a video game, you want to find some sort of weird sweet spot that balances easy to understand mechanics and the right level of challenge. Games that are too easy can become boring and games that are too hard become frustrating, both scenarios lead you to turning off the game in frustration. Most games tend to lean towards one of the two sides, but Portal is one of those few games that truly knows how to properly balance between easy to understand mechanics and challenging puzzles.
Some of them are as easy as putting a cube onto a button, while others can require launch yourself by jumping off a ledge and firing a portal at the exact right moment to propel yourself onto another platform. It is hits that perfect sweet spot where casual and hardcore games can both play and enjoy without the feeling of unbearable challenge or cream puff easy.
Who would have thought that a cast of lovable characters can include a woman who never speaks, a psychopathic half human/half computer entity, a scientist who doesn’t physically appear in the game and only exists in his cryptic messages plus the comics, and a fucking cube of all things? Portal somehow makes you fall in love with its creative cast of characters through some sort of Stockholm Syndrome effect.
Chell never once speaks or interacts in anyway and yet seems fully fledged out through her actions and interaction with GLaDOS. GLaDOS is of course the driving force behind the game and is one of the best villains of this generation. You even fall in love with Companion Cube and want nothing more than to rescue it when GLaDOS tells you to incinerate it. The characters are so great and one of the driving forces behind the longevity of this game.
Filled With Memorable Material
We could list these off for days: the Companion Cube, The Cake is a Lie, GLaDOS, the Portal Gun, Chell, Aperture Science, and of course the blue and orange portals. Portal, more than any other game by Valve, has been able to create such unique and memorable material that has become ubiquitous in nerd culture. While Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2 are both solid game franchises, it is Portal that is always remembered for its colorful array of materials to reference over and over again.
Does this game withstand the test of time? Oh hell yes! Portal is a classic video game that is featured with the likes of Super Mario Brothers, Doom, Halo, and so forth. It is a perfect blend of challenge, intrigue, and fun as you catapult yourself through portals while being taunted by the nefarious GLaDOS.
The characters are lovely, there are countless references to make, and the mere fact that game has permeated every area of nerd culture proves that it truly is a game for the ages.
Final Score 5/5
Thank you for reading and as always, if you enjoyed this review, please like and subscribe for more from me. With that being said, I am going to close the door to the vault until my next classic review.