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Yeah, Portal rocks.
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Game over! Portal takes mortal damage in the Laser Orgy 500.
But what do your friends think?"
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Portal enters the canon on its mechanic and its memes. The mechanic first: the idea of walking through walls and falling through ceilings and staring at your own butt as you plummet to your death is simply magical, the kind of impossible experience that only games can deliver, and it comes on the back of well-honed puzzled design. Portal didn’t do it first — remember Prey? Us neither — and it didn’t do take the concept as far as it could go, but in a decade packed with experimental puzzle-platformers, Portal was the most delightful. That’s not what put Portal shirts on the backs of all the fans, though, or launched all those “cake” GIFs, or broadened Jonathan Coulton’s fan base. Portal has a bare plot and a boatload of memes, and here, memes work better than plot. All the big questions — How’d I get here? Did the world blow up? — are left tantalizingly unanswered, and instead, players are treated to subversive jokes, cryptic graffiti, and an antagonist who sings a song to you after you beat her, a device that remains surreal and kind of beautiful no matter how many times you hear “Still Alive.” _Chris Dahlen
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