Portal is considered by many to be one of the greatest puzzle games of all time, and for good reason. The Valve-exclusive game has become a classic ever since its debut in 2007, spawning hundreds of memes, puzzles, and memorable game moments that even non-gamers have likely heard of. The Companion Cube, “the cake is a lie,” and and GLaDOS are all elements of the Portal saga that have been ingrained in the mind of gamers ever since Valve debuted the game.
So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that a sequel was spawned to capitalize on the greatness of what came before it. Portal 2 brings us more of everything that came before it, expertly expanded and tweaked to build a fantastic sequel, with memorable characters, hilarious jokes, and more mind-bending puzzles to challenge us in every way.
Portal 2 picks up right where the original game left off, bringing back the silent protagonist Chell. She gives players an avatar through which they’ll navigate the zany world of Portal 2. Chell returns to the nefarious laboratory of Aperture Science, just as players did in the original game. But now there are others to meet here aside from the evil A.I. computer GLaDOS.
This time around, a robot named Wheatley (voiced by Stephen Merchant) meets you in the beginning of the game. He appears to be tasked with helping Chell escape from the facility she’s forced to complete experiments within.
With Wheatley at your side, it’s a bit easier to figure out the nefarious puzzles ahead of you. You must solve the puzzles using your Portal Gun device. It’s the only weapon in the game, since you don’t actually “shoot” anyone. The Portal Gun only shoots out portals, not bullets. You use the portals to move yourself or objects with to solve the different stages.
Portal 2 is chock full of challenging puzzles that you have to figure out yourself. The game doesn’t hold your hand to do so. The Portal gun can shoot out both orange and blue portals that you can walk through. Shoot a blue portal onto a wall near you, then shoot an orange portal on a wall by a door you need to reach. You’ll be able to get to areas you wouldn’t otherwise be able to travel to, as the portals are linked.
You can pass through portals unharmed. You can also send objects through portals and maintain their momentum. Say you see a Companion Cube hurtling through the air. You can quickly shoot a portal and get it to hit a switch at the same speed it was traveling at before.
There’s a lot in Portal 2 to keep you busy. There are malevolent turrets that want you dead. There are jump pads to give you better height when you need to reach something. And there are inanimate objects to help you accomplish each objective. Many of the puzzles require more than just a simple few steps to solve and can be quite long-winded.
There’s a wide array of puzzles to complete before you meet back up with the original Portal’s sadistic A.I. GLaDOS, but she does make a return. This part of the game really gives Valve’s attention to detail with the sequel a chance to shine, as seeing GLaDOS come back adds mounting tension that transforms the game during the later half of the game. As the game goes on, you’ll find that each environment you’re forced to compete puzzles in goes from strange, medicinal test chambers to enormous caverns underground, which opens up the game in a big way.
Every moment of Portal 2 is just as satisfying as the last, with simple but complex solutions to puzzles that’ll really get you scratching your head as you try to work out what the game wants you to do. There’s always a feeling of euphoria that follows your brief spell of trying to “work things out,” and an addictive rush that comes with figuring it all out and bringing it together.
If you’re not into going it alone, thankfully there’s also a co-op mode that lets you play with a friend to try and figure things out if you prefer (or a random stranger if that’s what strikes your fancy.) You can play as the smaller, tubbier robot Atlas or the tall and thin robot P-Body as you work to tackle the puzzles together. Once you’ve gone all out with that, you can even go back in-game to create your own puzzles if you prefer.
From its excellent voice acting, plot points, and mind-bending puzzles that force you to re-evaluate the way you approach the game, Portal 2 is an adventure that any game fan would be thrilled to make their way through. In fact, Portal 2 is a dazzling follow-up to one of the greatest puzzle games ever created. By the time you painstakingly work your way to the end, you’ll be ready to take on Portal 3 — it’s just too bad it hasn’t been created yet.