Valve is most known for being the company behind of Steam, a digital game software distribution platform. Yet the developers at Valve aren’t only for distributing games, but also for releasing their own. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to see such great games as the Half-Life Franchise, Left for Dead, or Team Fortress 2. These games are worthy of recognition, however I want to bring to attention Portal, a game initally released in the October of 2007.
In Portal you play as Chell, waking up as a test subject for Aperture Science. It’s apparent from soon after your character wakes up, something is wrong. The enviorment around you is completely devoid of human life. Instead, your only form of companionship is through GLaDOS, a less than friendly artifical intelligence running the show now. With the aid of a Portal Gun, the player is able to shoot two portals linked to each other. With the Portal Gun the player faces puzzles and challenges of varying intensities. The goal in most levels of is to go from Point A to Point B, a simple concept on paper. However Portal manages to throw a diverse set of levels that really challenge the player’s spatial reasoning skills.
Why Portal matters today
While the concept of a puzzle platformer is far from an alien concept, the design philosophy of Portal is worthy of attention. Now in 2022 gaming is bigger than it ever was, which is a good thing of course. We have seen plenty of games innovating new concepts succesfully, see Breath of the Wild as an example. Yet for every Breath of the Wild, we have about subsqeuntly twenty other game studios trying to make their own. Using other video game’s concepts for innovation should be appreciated, and seeing developers utilize concepts of other games is not something to be shunned. Nevertheless originality is better for the industry rather than seeing the same game over and over. Today in 2022 Portal is remembered fondly, it continues to be used as an example in game development philosphies.
Nvidia has even partnered with steam to release Portal with RTX, a free DLC that makes the game run with Ray-Tracing. With or without a fresh coat of paint, Portal manages to hold up incredibly well today. I hope we continue to see just as much innovation and creativity in the future.
You can play both Portal and Portal with RTX at The Esports Cave