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Critic Reviews 87% add missing review

Tap-Repeatedly/Four Fat Chicks ( )

I am fascinated by Portal, this game made by students who got the developer’s dream come true: the chance to work with Valve Software at the height of its awesome. The chance to try something different, something unique and a little crazy. Everything from the gameplay to the closing credits is risky. Most publishers wouldn’t touch something this ... off-kilter. But Valve is Valve; it has limitless resources and is a font of innovation. For them, it’s a small gamble—Portal wasn’t that expensive to make, it’s part of a larger package, most of the team were recent grads so no reputations were really on the line—and it paid off.

Nov 2007 · Windows · read review

GamerDad ( )

This game is pure gameplay at its finest - while there is some story and other motivations contained in the game, it is ultimately all about using the portal technology to get past the puzzle immediately in front of you, to allow you to go on to the next. The humor, the danger, everything else that is going on serves the central purpose of advancing the gameplay without ever getting in the way. Portal is an awesome experience that really gives you that 'WOW' feeling that you are experiencing something unique that is bound to be copied but never duplicated.

Oct 30th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Common Sense Media ( )

Portal is an excellent game, the standout star of 2007's Half-Life 2:The Orange Box game compilation, which also included the Half-Life 2 saga and Team Fortress 2. As a stand-alone product, Portal includes no additional game content on top of what was included with The Orange Box, so those who own The Orange Box should not pick up this edition of Portal. But since The Orange Box is an M-rated title, if you have a teen looking for an interesting puzzler, this stand-alone version of Portal is an outstanding choice. It represents a new genre of game that combines the sophisticated physics of a first-person shooter with minimally-violent puzzle content.

Apr 9th, 2008 · Windows · read review

Just Adventure (A)

The best way to describe the tone of this game would be to imagine if Douglas Adams wrote System Shock. There's a menacing breeziness to it, and the portal gun is so much fun to play with I can't wait for more of this plot arc (which takes place in the Half-Life universe) to unfold. GlaDOS will go down in history as one of the classic memorable antagonists, and I must single out the brilliant voice work along with the writing in this game as a big part of this.

Nov 9th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Worth Playing (9.8 out of 10)

Now, how about integrating the portal gun into a proper shooter, perhaps with multiplayer, or, better yet, co-op modes? These are the only things missing here, but given how novel and fun Portal is, I can certainly be patient for the inevitable sequel, assured the same care and quality will result. I've already played it beginning to end four times and haven't tired of it yet.

Nov 20th, 2007 · Windows · read review

GamesCollection (9.5 out of 10)

Cercherò di non ripetermi in sede conclusiva, credo che dopo tutti i commenti positivi sparsi qua e là per la recensione, il messaggio sia stato recepito. Valve si riconferma, ancora oggi dal 1998, regina incontrastata del gaming per PC, davvero congratulazioni ad una delle software house ad oggi più creative e produttive. Portal è contenuto ne “The Orange Box”, una collezione comprendente Team Fortress 2 e Half life 2 accompagnato dai due “episode” finora usciti, il tutto al prezzo di un normale gioco. Come recitato nella custodia, “Il migliore affare nella storia dei videogiochi”!

Feb 27th, 2008 · Windows · read review

Gamernode (9.5 out of 10)

It's hard to find something not to like about Portal. Everything, from the gameplay to the presentation, are top-notch from beginning to end and makes it more than a worthy addition to the level of quality presented by the other titles in the Orange Box.

Oct 16th, 2007 · Windows · read review

YouGamers (94 out of 100)

"This was a triumph. I'm making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS." One of the best single-player experiences of the year.

Oct 15th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Pelit (92 out of 100)

Portalin kantava idea on petollisen yksinkertainen: pelissä tehdään seiniin, kattoihin ja lattioille sinisiä ja oransseja portaaleja. Kun astuu toiseen, tulee esiin toisesta. Vitsi on siinä, että inertia säilyy. Näistä aineista leivotaan niin maukas kakkupohja että saksalaiset ikuisuuspohjat murenisivat kateudesta, jos osaisivat.

Nov 2007 · Windows

2404.org PC Gaming (9.1 out of 10)

I was completely impressed with Portal. It’s a great game that’s innovative, fun, and contains a humorous storyline. My only real complaint was that it was too short, and I want more.

Mar 10th, 2008 · Windows · read review

TTGamer (9 out of 10)

This little gem gives a whole new perspective to the Half-Life series. While Valve won't reveal just how Portal fits into the HL universe yet, there are many references to Portal during Episode 2 and considering what an ingenious concept it is, we expect to see much more Portal from Valve over the coming years. We continuously badger developers to give us originality, and for once a major developer has. Portal is simply a must play title, even for those who are not necessarily puzzle fans.

Oct 25th, 2007 · Windows · read review

GameSpy ( )

At a launch price of $20 via the Steam digital download service, it's debatable whether Portal is a little too short, even with the epic finale. A few more puzzles would have been most welcome. What's not debatable is that Portal is one of the most unique, funny and satisfying games of 2007, and we can't wait until Valve produces more of it.

Oct 10th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Eurogamer.net (UK) (9 out of 10)

And so we're left with a curious contradiction: one of the most interesting and delightful things Valve's ever done, but also one of its least fulfilling. If only we had our own portal gun to bridge the gap to the first infusion of new content, perhaps we could forget it. Either that, or the next best thing - Companion Cube plush toys. It's surely only a matter of time.

Oct 10th, 2007 · Windows · read review

PCActu (9 out of 10)

Au départ ajouté comme une petite friandise dans l'Orange Box, Portal souffle au final un vent de fraîcheur revigorant sur la famille des jeux où l'on contrôle quelque chose qui ressemble de près ou de loin à un flingue. Encore aujourd'hui, Portal s'impose comme une des valeurs sûres du jeu vidéo, en plus d'être un must-have absolu du PC. On regrette cependant que le titre se termine au bout de trois heures et ce, pour la simple et bonne raison que l'on passe un si bon moment entre les murs d'Aperture Science que l'on ne voudrait jamais en resortir. Evidemment, le Time Attack stressant et quelques niveaux issus du solo revisités dans une version " hard " sont là pour prolonger l'expérience. Quoi qu'il en soit et sans replonger dans une longue liste de superlatifs, on peut vous assurer que l'ambiance de ce titre fait partie des meilleurs productions de nos machines à ce jour. GLaDOS, j'attends avec impatience de te retrouver pour de nouvelles aventures et ceci n'est pas un mensonge.

Apr 30th, 2011 · Windows · read review

4Players.de (90 out of 100)

Ja, Portal ist zu kurz, keine Frage! Nach dem furiosen Abschluss möchte ich gerne mehr Rätsel lösen, aber leider fällt nach drei bis vier Stunden (ohne Bonus-Rätsel) der Vorhang. Echt schade, trotzdem fühlte ich mich in der Zeit wunderbar an den Monitor gebunden. Die einmalige Mischung aus durchweg logischen Portal-Rätseln fordert neben Koordination, Geschick und Timing viel Gehirnschmalz in der dritten Dimension. Manche Aufgaben sind zwar schnell durchschaut, doch dafür entschädigt euer Gegenspieler, die freundliche und irgendwie schizoide Computerstimme, die stellenweise absolut bizarre Sprüche von sich gibt. Und wer kämpft nicht gerne für ein Stück Kuchen? Selbst, dass bei der Grafikkulisse nur zwei Sets verwendet werden, fällt dank der einwandfreien Rätsel und der klasse Soundkulisse kaum ins Gewicht. Ich kann Portal jedenfalls nur weiterempfehlen, da es trotz der Kürze ein einmaliges Spielerlebnis ist!

Oct 15th, 2007 · Windows · read review

1UP (9 out of 10)

Know that Portal, alongside Episode Two, proves the creative viability of games that are neither low-rent/casual/arcade nor costly all-or-nothing wagers in the monolithic triple-A market. But above all, know that we're being f***ed with in the best way.

Oct 10th, 2007 · Windows · read review

GameStar (Germany) (90 out of 100)

Endlich! Das Spiel, das die leidige Diskussion beendet, ob Spiele Kunst sein können oder nicht. Portal bietet keine Bombastgrafik wie Crysis, keinen orchestralen Soundtrack wie Call of Duty 4 und keine Dauerunterhaltung wie World of Warcraft, sondern ist ein schlichtes, kleines Spiel mit Herz. Noch nie bin ich in vier Stunden so gut unterhalten worden (zumindest nicht am PC). Ich schätze, Valve macht am Erfolg von Portal aus, ob und wie sie dieses Konzept in Episode 3 einbauen. Und Erfolg ist das, was Portal verdient. Denn wo die anderen Hollywood-Blockbuster sind, ist Portal ein Juwel aus dem Programmkino. Da wird man, was man furchtbar hasst - nämlich Cineast.

Oct 31st, 2007 · Windows

Adventure Gamers ( )

Whether or not you leap, Portal is a one-of-a-kind experience that's well worth every gamer looking into. Just take your time and enjoy, because "speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out" and it's over all too soon.

May 12th, 2008 · Windows · read review

UOL Jogos ( )

Impressionante, belo e divertido são adjetivos comuns para bons jogos. No caso de "Portal", só isso não é suficiente. "Genial" seria a palavra certa para qualificá-lo. É um título que deixará qualquer um boquiaberto, tamanha a complexidade de sua mecânica e quebra-cabeças. O nível de desafio é alto, mas basta botar a cabeça para funcionar para que se chegue a uma solução - o que é altamente gratificante. A atmosfera claustrofóbica e perturbadora, por mais sutil que seja, fará você se sentir ameaçado, sendo que nem inimigos há no jogo. Pode ser curto, mas é um dos mais imersivos e intrigantes jogos já lançados, cuja experiência proporcionada será lembrada por muito tempo.

Oct 26th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Cheat Code Central (4.5 out of 5)

The main portion of Portal will last you a few hours at best, and unlockable challenge maps will further extend the gameplay. When all is said and done, Portal will leave you wanting more, but that's not a bad thing. It's a hilarious game that offers a completely unique first-person experience and forces players to use their brains rather than their blasters. Those who missed it the first time around in the Orange Box can pick up a retail PC version of Portal on its own this month. The $20 price tag may seem a lot when $30 more will buy you the whole deal, but it's a great sleeper hit that every serious PC gamer should own.

Apr 2008 · Windows · read review

Gaming Shogun (9 out of 10)

Portal is a very fun game that uses not only good gameplay but also suspense to great avail.

Oct 22nd, 2007 · Windows · read review

GameSpot (9 out of 10)

Short as it may be, Portal is a fantastic game that should be played by anyone interested in unique, well-crafted gameplay and a witty, whip-smart script. The stand-alone retail release comes with the same price point as the downloadable Steam release, which is about the cost of a night out at the movies. Portal may not last much longer than some feature films, but pound for pound it remains one of the best games on store shelves.

Apr 29th, 2008 · Windows · read review

PC Action (Germany) (89 out of 100)

Zwar bleibt der spielerische Anspruch von Portal über das gesamte Abenteuer hinweg eher niedrig, das sollte Sie aber nicht weiter stören. Das Spiel strotzt nur so vor Innovation, trockenem Humor und Ideenreichtum. Auch dass Sie nach spätestens vier Stunden alle Tests abgeschlossen haben, ist verschmerzbar, weil dafür die Hintergrundgeschichte – am Stück genossen – ein echter Leckerbissen ist. Seit Hal 9000 aus 2001: Odyssee im Weltraum hat die Welt keinen so fiesen Computer mehr gesehen. Herrlich!

Nov 2007 · Windows

Gamigo (8.9 out of 10)

Portal ist ein riesiger Puzzelspaß der mit seinem Humor und den Herausforderungen für Abwechslung in der Orange Box sorgt und diese sehr gut komplettiert. Auch wenn es nicht unbedingt sehr lange dauert das Ende des Spieles zu erleben macht es doch auch danach immer mal wieder Spaß es einfach kurz anzuwerfen und vielleicht neue Optionen auszuprobieren oder doch noch zu versuchen bei den Advanced Puzzels die Goldmedallie zu ergattern.

Oct 14th, 2007 · Windows · read review

PC Games (Germany) (89 out of 100)

Einzig durch seine Rätsel hätte mich Portal nicht so sehr begeistert. Hin und wieder gibt es Stellen, bei denen ich lange nach einer Lösung suchen musste. Aber es sind zu wenige, denn die Lernkurve steigt rapide an. Gut für Einsteiger, Profis sind schnell unterfordert. Portal könnte etwas kniffliger sein! Doch der hintergründige Humor, der sich durch das gesamte Spiel zieht, hat es mir angetan. Portal ist ein kleines Spiel mit großen Lachern und einem sehr sympathischen Bösewicht. Schauen Sie sich unbedingt den grandiosen Abspann an! Deutlich ist zu spüren, mit welcher Liebe zum Detail die junge Entwicklermannschaft bei Valve an das Projekt herangegangen ist. Ich geh mir jetzt jedenfalls erst einmal ein Stück Kuchen holen. Und dann fange ich das Spiel von vorn an!

Oct 10th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Gameplay (Benelux) (85 out of 100)

Portal is een geslaagd The Orange Box-extraatje dat leuk en origineel puzzelwerk biedt, maar als volwaardige game tekort schiet. Nou ja, Portal is dan ook een gameplayexperiment en eentje dat zeer geslaagd is.

Oct 25th, 2007 · Windows

IGN (8.2 out of 10)

For 20 dollars, it may be a little pricey for what’s there, but we certainly won't tell anybody not to buy Portal. We recommend picking this one up with the full Orange Box because it’s hard to say no to another peek into this awesome universe and it does fit together with Episode Two.

Oct 9th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Vgames (82 out of 100)

ואלב יצרו משחק עם קונספט אדיר ומגניב שפותח אפיקים חדשים במשחקי פעולה – תרתי משמע. אפשר להתאכזב קמעה מעיצוב העולם שלו, או מאורך החיים שלו, אבל גם במגבלות הקיימות, מדובר במשחק מקורי ומרענן. הוא שובר לבטים מצוין למי שמסופק אם לקנות את האורנג' בוקס, אבל לפחות עכשיו, לא מצדיק רכישה בפני עצמו.

Oct 21st, 2007 · Windows · read review

Gaming since 198x (4 out of 5)

Portal est une expérience unique, baignant dans une ambiance et une atmosphère exceptionnelle. Son concept simple mais diablement efficace promet des heures d'arrachage de cheveux sur les maps bonus mais le solo est malheureusement beaucoup trop court tellement il est agréable. Indispensable, surtout pour ce prix.

Nov 28th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Blend Games ( )

Portal is a game that is short and extremely sweet. As a part of The Orange Box it alone is worth the price of admission. On it’s own, the 3 hours of main gameplay may be a little much to swallow for $20. There’s nothing quite like it out there, and I can’t wait until Half-Life 2: Episode 3 includes the portal gun (everybody close your eyes and make a wish now). Like the gravity gun, it will have to be nerfed a little bit. But the possibilities for gameplay are limitless based on the 3 hours of Portal. By the end you’ll simply be happy to be a part of such an innovative experience, and even happier to just be alive.

Oct 24th, 2007 · Windows · read review

PlayDevil ( )

"Portal" is an amazing experience. It has little sound or music, dated graphics, even compared to the other games in the Orange Box, and it lasts about 2 hours first time through. It is, however, one of the most ambitious and original games released, ever. The gameplay is fantastic, and is one of the most thoughtful games you'll ever play. It's also a game with plenty of replay value thanks to the advanced maps and challenges, not to mention achievements on the 360 version. Portal has to be seen and played to be fully experienced, and whilst it is by no means a perfect game, it cannot be anything other than thoroughly recommended.

Jan 11th, 2008 · Windows · read review

Meristation (8 out of 10)

Definir Portal no es sencillo. Se trata de un juego en primera persona con un entramado de puzzle protagonista. A grandes rasgos es aplicar la hibridación de géneros en el sentido estricto, de forma original y casi sin aviso previo. Portal sorprende tanto por su planteamiento como por su transfondo.

Oct 19th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Adventure Classic Gaming ( )

Overall, Portal is a game with very clever and unique game mechanics and puzzles. The complexity in learning how to place the portals may feel a little overwhelming at first, but it does not take long before shooting portals out of your portal gun becomes natural to you. Moreover, you will enjoy the memorable and fun storyline that is told through a brilliant script and great characters. The amount of enjoyment you get from this game will certainly be worth your time trying to survive, for the good of science.

Dec 15th, 2012 · Windows · read review

Christ Centered Gamer / Christ Centered Game Reviews (80 out of 100)

From an appropriateness standpoint, Portal is pretty tame. The only violence is caused by your surroundings; you are the only one who can die. There are electronic enemies such as turrets and rocket launchers but no humans. I have no problem letting my kids play this; it makes them think and they enjoy the portal technology.

Mar 29th, 2010 · Windows · read review

Avid Gamer (8 out of 10)

From its unique sound design to its clever, well executed concept Portal will entertain throughout its journey. It achieves its aim, to delight and intrigue its player, to a high standard. As GLaDOS rightly says; “Now you’re thinking in portals.”

Dec 17th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Trigames.net ( )

The gradual, stepping-stone nature of the level progression helps ingrain some specialized instincts--an understanding of 'Portal culture' if you will--that your brain will remember almost reflexively.

Jun 16th, 2009 · Windows · read review

Factornews (7 out of 10)

Une progression bien maîtrisée, un gameplay vraiment efficace, le tout agrémenté d'un scénario intriguant contenant de l'humour, mais le jeu est diablement trop court, entre deux et trois heures pour en faire le tour. Restent les niveaux bonus qui ne viennent que péniblement renforcer la durée en proposant de refaire six des niveaux les plus durs dans des versions encore plus dures. Mais surtout bien plus basées sur votre skill au tir et votre rapidité que sur votre intelligence. Le concept du jeu s'y noie avec l'intérêt du joueur.

Oct 12th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Jeuxvideo.com (14 out of 20)

Pour faire simple et bref, Portal propose un concept franchement original et le met fort bien en pratique. Maintenant, mieux vaut en faire l'acquisition dans le package complet de l'Orange Box ou attendre la diffusion de nouvelles cartes si on souhaite l'acheter à part, histoire de ne pas souffrir de la durée de vie rikiki. La note qui suit porte donc plutôt sur l'acquisition en pack.

Oct 16th, 2007 · Windows · read review

Gamekult (5 out of 10)

La variété des énigmes proposées permet un renouvellement constant du gameplay, avec notamment l'utilisation de l'énergie cinétique préservée à travers les portails pour se catapulter ou encore l'exploitation des lignes de vue des bots d'attaque pour détruire certains obstacles. L'ensemble est très bien mis en scène, joliment organisé et suscite sans cesse nos neurones léthargiques sans jamais trop frustrer. Malheureusement, cette bouffée d'air frais sera de (très) courte durée puisque les dix-neuf niveaux s'expédient en moins de deux heures, même si les défis bonus peuvent allonger un peu l'expérience. On aura du coup un peu de mal à conseiller d'acheter Portal seul car, même à 15 €, ce First Person Puzzle facture assez cher le temps de jeu. Maintenant, une fois intégré dans le reste de l'Orange Box, il reste un jeu très fun et frais, qui pourrait en plus s'enrichir à l'avenir.

Oct 15th, 2007 · Windows · read review


Mit Portalen denken – so viel Spaß hat ein Puzzle-Platformer schon lange nicht gemacht. Portal hat in den kurzen Spielstunden so viel zu bieten: schicke Grafik, gut durchdachte Rätsel, tolle Steuerung, aberwitzigen Humor und die Gelüste nach einer süßen Backware. Selbst Anfänger, die sich sonst nicht so oft in dem Genre bewegen, kriegen die teils kniffligen Aufgaben mit dem mobilen Portalgerät gelöst, ohne dabei sofort frustrierend zur Komplettlösung greifen zu müssen. Der Kuchen mag eine Lüge sein, aber Portal ist ungelogen eine Sensation der Videospielgeschichte.

Oct 10th, 2022 · Windows · read review

Player Reviews

Fun but extremely overrated casual-type puzzle game
by Ferragus (47)

The Good
I got Portal through a free download promotional offer on Steam, so I really can't complain about value for money. I didn't really know anything about it except that I was aware of its positive reception back when it was released. Since I'm almost exclusively a retro gamer, I also took this as an opportunity to try out one of the very high-tech recent games to take advantage of my GeForce 9600, which has not seen any real load for the past two years since I bought it.

As it quickly turned out, this is actually a pure logic puzzle game. Your task is essentially to find your way through a three-dimensional level from the single entry point to the single exit point. The tricky part of this is to move between platforms that you can see but which are either vertically on a different level than you are or which are on the same level but horizontally removed from where you are standing (so there is a chasm between the two platforms). Unlike other platform puzzle games, you can neither jump nor climb ladders or ropes to reach a different platform. Sometimes you can use an elevator, but mostly your only way is either to fall on the platform you want to get to (which obviously only works downward) or to open a 'portal' between one of the walls of your current platform and a wall of the platform you want to reach by pointing the device you are carrying (the 'portal gun') to the the positions where you want the two openings of the two-way portal to appear and pushing the fire button. Or you can also create one end of your portal on the ceiling above the platform where you want to go and you can fall through that ceiling if you walk through the other end. Simple as that.

There are very few other elements in the game: Walls that you can't open a portal on (which are clearly distinguished from those that can be used for portal). Buttons you have to push to get sliding platforms moving. Stationary things that fire various (slow or fast) missiles that you have to avoid or that you have to use cleverly to destroy obstacles in your way. Floor switches that you have to put boxes on to open doors you couldn't get through otherwise. Deadly floors that you must not fall on. And finally the very clever use of gravity as a game mechanic in the maneuver called 'flinging' which is the only way to (sort of) jump in this game higher or longer than a foot or so.

There really isn't much in this game that we haven't seen before. Portal is basically like any other puzzle platformer (think Rick Dangerous, Lost Vikings, and so on), the main difference being the fact that it's a 3D world, which is of course by no means a trivial thing. Nor is the fact that this isn't such a revolutionary game (contrary what most reviews want you to believe) a bad thing as long as it's fun.

Getting into the game was very straightforward. The learning curve was VERY nicely balanced, new concepts (like how to move boxes on floor switches) are introduced step by step and are very easy to grasp this way About a quarter into the game you have learned everything needed to solve the later puzzles. The difficulty of the puzzles then steadily increases until you reach about half of the game (the 19th 'test level') and remains about constant from that point on. Difficulty is very manageable throughout the main game. There are a few tricky stages that you have to try over and over again until you solve them, but it never really becomes frustrating.

The story as such isn't really integral to the game, but it's entertaining nevertheless. Your aim in solving the puzzles is to defeat the rogue AI that tries to kill you. This AI called GLaDOS keeps talking to you throughout the game - think System Shock. But unlike System Shock, Portal isn't scary at all but funny. Many of the AI's lines, as well as the song she sings for the player during the end credits, are hilarious, and her voice acting is also extremely good. These two things (in addition to some other jokes you come across) are easily the two most memorable aspects of Portal, rather than the gameplay itself.

This is a short game. Some reviewers claim that they finished it in 2 to 4 hours. For me it took somewhere between 7 and 8 hours, although I didn't feel like I was being particularly lame. This is actually a good thing, since it's fun while it lasts but I wouldn't have wanted to spend like 30+ hours playing this.

One reason why the game can be finished so quickly is that you can save anywhere. This is something definitely to be applauded. Other studios/publishers would probably have introduced fixed saving locations to force the player to replay larger parts of levels and thereby artificially extend the game time.

The Bad
The same thing I've always hated about 1st person platformers. You aren't aware of the body of your player character since the only thing you see is your gun. You can't even see your feet when you look straight down. But the point of a platformer is exactly to guide you player character precisely. If you don't know where the body of your player character exactly is, it's basically impossible to fall through portals to fling to difficult-to-reach platforms exactly like you would like this to happen. What's going on instead is that you try the same flings over and over and over again (quick-loading all the time), hoping that you'll accidentally get the trajectory right this time. This mostly works out eventually, but it's still extremely annoying. And there were in fact several situations in the game where I was simply unable to use a combination of portals to get to a platform that looked reachable that way. I always failed to reach the edge of the platform, but I never knew whether this was just because I wasn't falling through the portal the right way or whether it was physically impossible to reach that platform that way. I didn't even have an idea whether I was missing the platform just barely or I wasn't near its edge at all.

The graphics aren't particularly impressive, though that's of course not really relevant for puzzle games. They are functional and get the job done, so there's no real reason to complain. I just add this as a negative point because most players probably expect current FPS games to be chock full of eye candy. Portal isn't.

The presentation (the humor, the introduction of the game mechanics, the balanced learning curve etc.) is excellent, this is clearly a very solid game in this respect and up to Valve's standard, but what about the gameplay as such? This is obviously a very subjective question, but personally, I found Portal's gameplay just dull. I do like puzzle and other strategy games in general, and I've played several addictive games in this genre, but Portal definitely isn't one of them. In the second half of the game, especially, after you leave the test levels, there isn't really anything new or interesting going on in the game. It's just the same puzzles, or combinations of puzzles, over and over again, in just slightly different rooms.

Finally, though this is just an odd technical issue, I don't understand how on earth this game can occupy 5 GB of disk space. The whole environment is extremely 'sterile', as one of the developers put it in the audio commentary, so as not to distract the players from the puzzles. No fancy textures, no enemy models, no objects or decorations, no movies, not even cutscenes, just walls, platforms, and sometimes the odd fan, turret, piston or staircase you come across. Still, downloading the game from Steam took about as long as playing it through.

The Bottom Line
Contrary to what its MobyGames category says, this is no action game. It's a traditional platform puzzle game, just in 3D from a first person perspective. There is very little violence involved, which is a good thing, although blood splatters appear on the walls when you are hit by the guard robots' machine guns - I found this both out of place in this game and distasteful. There is very little time pressure in the game, and very few situations where proper timing or 'manual skill' plays any role at all. Portal is mostly about figuring out where to place your portals and in what order to move through the levels.

Overall both the gameplay and the tone of the game felt slightly similar to the classic Shiny games MDK and Messiah, both of which involve a lot of similar puzzle elements, gliding around on 3D levels, and humor. But contrary to Portal these are actually exciting and action-packed games that offer a lot of fun and never get dull (though they sometimes get extremely hard).

To sum it up, Portal is a fun and rather easy puzzle game that you can quickly get into and play through over one or two afternoons, much like the 2D level-based Flash puzzle games you can play for free on the internet. It's definitely worth playing for the jokes and a few memorable moments. But I'm glad I got it for free. I would be quite disappointed if I had paid $25 for it. The game isn't that good, it's very short, and there is very little reason to replay it.

May 15th, 2010 · Windows

A fun game, but way too short
by Mae Spencer (4)

The Good
The story was amazing, and the fact it used artificial intelligence as the main enemy of the game was exactly what I was looking for at the first time I played it. I would watch every lets-play on youtube as many times as possible as I waited to actually buy the game- and when I did I was so happy to get it that I beat it in a matter of three days. I love how the gameplay was, and how not every 'chamber', or test level, was easy and how you had to use your mind for quite a few of them.

The Bad
I really didn't like how short the game was in general. They could have added a lot more interesting things to the first game and still had it lead up to the seemingly even more popular sequel. Personally, I could play through this game with my eyes closed- I memorized the levels since I played it through so much, and over time it just got flat out boring.

The Bottom Line
Personally, this game is one of the coolest games I've played in awhile. Sure, it has some pros and cons about it and its not all completely amazing. Sure, it gets boring after awhile for people like me, but it is definitely worth getting.

Nov 17th, 2011 · Windows

An exercise in how to tell a story without cutscenes
by snuf (14140)

The Good
Portal is, at its heart, a puzzle game. You can place one portal here another there and walk through one to get to the other. Although the interface is typical of a first person shooter, there is no shooting of bullets on your behalf, the turrets on the other hand are rather trigger happy.

The FPS style wrapper for the game makes it immediately accessible to fans of that genre, but the game play is all about the puzzles. You proceed through the game completing rooms of increasing difficulty using portals to get around the obstacles. When you figure out the trick to a room there's a rewarding "Ah ha!" moment in your brain.

The story elements emerge out of the frame work of the game seamlessly. We don't need to be told exactly who we are or what we are doing there. We are put in the position of a mouse in a maze. A maze constructed by a sadistic AI personality. That's all there is to the story but how it unfolds is a brilliant example of minimalist writing.

You are never thrown out of the game world by an expository cut scene. The story happens through the dialogue and also later through pieces of the environment which suggest you are far from the first rat to run this maze.

The simple story reminds one of Harlan Ellison's AI gone mad in "I have no mouth but I must scream". And you have no mouth. Your character, though given the name Chell, is as silent as Valve's Gordon Freeman. Your own voice cursing or laughing is Chell's voice.

As simplistic as this may sound, the game is executed to a high level of quality. It's short. There is nothing extraneous present in it. Just very distilled puzzle game play surrounded by a simple plot that carries you along.

The ending, although well known and quoted to death by now, is one of the best I've seen in a video game. The end song flips the feeling of hatred you felt towards the AI in the game on it's head and makes you wish for more.

Should there have been more? Making a game this tight is a balancing act. I feel that if it had been longer perhaps the impact of the first play through would not have been so good. As it stands, they did an amazing job of creating the world of Portal around you as you played through the puzzles.

It does say something to the strength of the game that despite being bundled with an episode of Half Life 2, Portal has seen a sequel well before the next portion of Half Life 2. Talk about stolen thunder.

The Bad
I did feel that the difficulty in the game was a bit weird. Most of the earlier puzzles are easy to figure out. For a game having less than twenty total levels, the majority are easily cruised through.

The last couple of levels do present a challenge but some of this is from pure twitch mechanics not from brain work. For a game that relies so much on puzzle solving, it's odd that the hardest parts are just twitch timing.

The game is very short. An expert player could probably clear it in an hour or hour and a half. I replayed it before the sequel was released and it took me about three hours. I wasn't racing though, I spent time seeing the sights and messing with portals for kicks. For the price, it's not a bad value versus an evening at the movies but compared to the majority of video games it may seem way to brief.

The Bottom Line
Portal is a puzzle game in a FPS wrapper surrounded by dark humor. As Chell, the poor girl stuck like a mouse in a maze, you must use the portal gun to navigate the tests you are put through. The gun is simple to operate, one mouse button shoots the first portal, the other button shoots the second portal. Walk through one of these portals and you pop out where the other portal is located.

A simple concept, but you must use these portals to navigate some devious rooms, defeat or avoid bullet shooting turrets and even figure out how to use them to launch you up to seemingly unreachable locations.

The game runs smooth and using portals to get around is the essence of simplicity. It's almost too simple until you get to the final truly difficult rooms, which require you to generate new portals quickly while you are in motion.

The story comes in the form of dialogue from an insane AI, dedicated to testing the portal device. The humor is enjoyable and the voice acting superlative.

Short and sweet, Portal is a rare example of a game that doesn't overstay its welcome but rather leaves you wanting more.

Jun 17th, 2011 · Windows

perfect design, but the fun only lasts a few good hours
by Asinine (1003)

The Good
The game isn't padded at all, everything that's in this game is there because it needed to be there for the game to work. There are no annoying parts between puzzles that drag-on and even the loading screens are incredibly fast. Thanks to this, the game is admirably enjoyable, you never get bored of it because there is always something to do. If you like the game this will mean that you will like it all the way through, but if you dislike the game (which is very hard) this means you won't ever get a break.

I found the story to be quite interesting, mostly because there isn't much revealed to you. All you know is that:
a) You are a prisoner in a science-lab, there is nothing explaining how you got there or why they took you, but whatever they do is unethical.
b) The robot who guides you through the tests has no understanding of human emotion and might be insane. Because the game doesn't reveal too much of the story you can use a little imagination and make it your own, at least that is what I did when I couldn't figure out a way to open a door during a puzzle.

Playing with the Portals is interesting no matter how old you are, I have wasted so many minutes just standing around and discovering new ways to mess with million-dollar science material. Some of the classic tricks are; placing portals behind cameras, endless falls and flying. It's also nice how they introduce you to the portal gun: first you have none, then you can use the blue portal and finally you assemble the whole thing. It spreads the fun a little better because you get more features to mess with as you play.

I had to laugh at most of the jokes, this is probably one of the most overrated part of the game though. People say every line is solid gold, but most of the jokes are good for a quick giggle and not a full three-minute-laughter that will tear your lungs apart. I also hate it when people burst into laughter about cake jokes. Yes. "The cake is a lie" is a very odd things to say, so is "He kicked the Bucket", but they aren't a comedic pot of gold that you can exploit in order to make cheap jokes for several years. Sorry, now I sound negative again, the jokes are pretty good and I liked MOST of them.

The Bad
I finished the game in two hours and maybe less, but considering all the time I wasted with messing around, I can safely say that the story mode will only take you 90 minutes tops. I praised the fact that the game has no padding, but that doesn't mean it can get away with lasting just as long as a movie. There is some extra content in the bonus maps and there are probably user-made levels out there, but this will only double the length of the game once (three hours) at best.

I found everything up to level seventeen to be very easy, level eighteen was probably the hardest and Nineteen was decent, but all the maps before that were very easy. I could solve most of them just by looking at them for a few seconds and looking for the box or switch required to move forward.The last-boss wasn't that bad, but the only thing that can lead to your "Game Over" screen is a very generous time limit. A little extra difficulty would have made the game better for me, but I wouldn't be surprised if somebody else thinks this game is one of the hardest out there and that my suggestion would make it impossible.

The Bottom Line
Portal is a really great game, but not the holy grail of video games, I like letting kids or parents play it due to its charming puzzles and jokes, but it just leaves me with a little problem: I bought a game that only took me two hours to finish. That is hard to justify. The lack of difficulty is also a little deal-breaker to me, but the last few stages are rather challenging, so that only counts for the first part of the game.

Aside from its length though, Portal is a very nice game with a funny story and very interesting design. I am glad I played it because it showed me how to design a game without using arbitrary padding. I was never really bored while playing this game, so this is a recommendation for everybody in the world, just try it once, only nine euros in the Steam Store.

Jun 15th, 2011 · Windows

Interesting idea, but not much of a game.
by Thomas Helsing (197)

The Good
I haven't seen a fresher idea for a game mechanism in years. And to find one that actually leaves much up to the player's imagination is rare. The portal weapons work like a charm, as does the physics in the game.

The Bad
However, I can't shake the feeling that I'm playing around with a tech demo. I have a hard time calling it a game. Most gamers will probably finish it in a couple of hours and that only adds to the demo feeling of the "game".

The story is thin, vague and not much to spur the player on. I got this game for free but had I payed money for it I would have felt even more cheated. It's fun to play around with and the gameplay is superbly executed - but I just don't see a whole game in there.

The Bottom Line
Imagine a typical 3D shooter without weapons. Instead you have the ability to shoot portals on almost any solid surface. If you shoot one portal on the right wall, and the other on the left and then go through the right one - you will come out of the left portal. These portals can be applied to ceilings and floors as well.

Now, the traditional shooter becomes a puzzle game where you need to use the portals - and your imagination - to get from point A to point B.

Jun 19th, 2011 · Windows

An achievement in humor and game design
by Patrick Bregger (283773)

The Good
Portal will always be known as one of the best written games of all times. Every single joke lands on the spot because the voice acting of SHO... I mean GLaDOS is fantastic and she doesn't talk your ear off (a virtue Portal 2 unfortunately forgot).

This is one of the only puzzle games which have a very polished difficulty curve: the puzzles never feel too easy or too hard in context of the game progression. The mechanics are simple, but the designers found many approaches to make clever puzzles out of them.

The Bad
The downside of the polished difficulty curve is that most of the game feels like a tutorial. Only in the last chapter the game stops holding your hand, but just at that moment it also stops introducing more difficult or complex puzzles and only iterates. That's normal for puzzle games, but in this case it stands out negatively because the whole game is relatively short (at most three hours) and the previous chapters were exceptionally varied. In the end, it makes the last chapter a bit tedious.

The Bottom Line
I believe it is a hard challenge to find someone on MobyGames who hasn't played Portal before, especially because Valve regularly gave it away for free on Steam. If you are one of this rare species, you absolutely have to give it a try - it will only cost you a few hours of your life, but in return you receive one of the funniest games of all times.

May 2nd, 2021 · Windows

Plus 208 player ratings without reviews

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Jeanne, Alsy, Scaryfun, Sciere, CalaisianMindthief, Daedolon, Bjorn Holine, DreinIX, Caliner, Patrick Bregger, Spenot, Wizo, chirinea, Cantillon, PCGamer77, jaXen, Xoleras, Tim Janssen, Solid Flamingo, marley0001, Martha Fwingo, Kevin Puschak.