I was also rather curious about Portal. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it, but watching the teaser trailer got me excited about this game as well. I wondered how well they would be able to pull it off.
As it turns out, they did a really great job. It probably helps that it was based on another game, Narbacular Drop, which served as the prototype to Portal. This probably allowed them to flesh out the concept and iron out the kinks. I was instantly hooked on this game, but eventually I got trapped in chamber 17 and took a bit of a break. Eventually I was able to beat the entire game, but I left it sitting for a while.
Then one night, we had a couple of friends over who had never even heard of Portal (it was still relatively close to the release date). I decided to show them a little bit, and since I had already played through all the chambers, I was breezing my way through the initial stages. Somehow I ended up playing all the way through, and I even ended up beating GLaDOS (though I think it may have taken a couple of tries).
I was not aware that Portal could actually be completed in roughly 3 to 6 hours of gameplay. Having listened to some of the in-game commentary, it’s rather apparent that they spent a lot of time trying to make the game accessible and solvable for all players. In the beginning chapters of the game, they took the time to introduce you to the concept of portals, and how they can be used to overcome “insurmountable obstacles” so you wouldn’t get stuck later on in the game. Each chamber built on the last, allowing you to gradually acquire new skills that would later become necessary.
All in all, it was a really enjoyable experience and I’m excited for future developments. Do you think they might bring portals over into the Half-Life world? I can’t help but think Valve has something up their sleeve.