In 2007, Valve released a bundle that would change gaming forever called “The Orange Box”. Much of the fanfare was directed toward the release of “Half-Life 2” being released on the Xbox 360 for the first time, as well as the “Episode 2” expansion that hadn’t been released before. “Team Fortress 2” also enthralled many, as it was the sequel to an already-successful multiplayer game.
Then, there was an unknown puzzle game included with “The Orange Box” called “Portal”. While many played it after beating “Half-Life 2”, it has become perhaps the most iconic game of the bunch. It’s still being referenced today and spawned a popular sequel. So what gave “Portal” so much staying power? Here are five reasons we still love it to this day.
5. The Physics
Most people hadn’t seen the type of physics “Portal” could offer until its release. Valve had hired students from the DigiPen Institute of Technology after they made a similar indie game called “Narbacular Drop”. The concept was then developed into “Portal”, which essentially became the best tech demo in video game history. To test out the mechanics of the game, the developers actually used a 2-D engine to see if it was possible.
4. The Portal Gun Itself
There are some iconic weapons and tools in video game history and the Portal Gun joined that pantheon almost immediately after the game was released. Not only does it have a neat aesthetic with its white shell and claw-like texture, but it shoots portals.
Ever since “Portal” was released, many have been making their own replicas of the Portal Gun through various forms that range from paper mache to 3-D printing. The protagonist, Chell, doesn’t speak at all during the game but carries a big Portal Gun.
3. The End Credits
“Portal” ends pretty abruptly for those that are playing it for the first time. After you defeat the final stage, the game ends with a brief cutscene and then goes straight to the credits, making you wonder how such a short amount of time has passed.
Then, the end credits start to ramp up. The victor is treated to a song called “Still Alive” which became one of the most famous in gaming history. Lines like “But there’s no sense crying over every mistake, you just keep on trying till you run out of cake” really resonated with players. This, of course, led to the everlasting meme about the cake being a lie. The end credits also set up well for the sequel that would be released in 2011, while “Still Alive” was even given the “Rock Band” treatment.
2. The Broad Appeal
While most games are for a very specific demographic, that’s not the case for “Portal”. Because of its humor that appeals to all ages and the fact that it’s a fun physics-based puzzle game, everyone from small children to the elderly has tried out “Portal” at least once.
Another aspect of “Portal” that most people seemed to love was the game’s length. Players can knock out the entire thing in one sitting without much problem, while still feeling like they got their money’s worth. Of course, nobody plays “Portal” just once thanks to its replayability factor.
Of course, you can’t mention “Portal” without talking about the antagonist from the first game, GLaDOS. Voiced by Ellen McLain, GLaDOS was the perfect foil for our quiet protagonist throughout the game. At first, this AI seems sweet and instructional but develops more personality over time to the point where you can’t wait to take her down.
Still, it was a bit sad to see her go at the conclusion of the first game (though she thankfully returned) because we missed her hilarious quips. It’s not easy to give a scientific robot a wide range of personalities, but the Valve team did just that.