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Bold and compelling sci-fi tale
Anyone interested in interactive fiction like the Zork series or bolder attempts at marrying games with narrative like Pangea and Lane Mastodon should find Portal to be of interest. It's an intriguing attempt to adapt a novel into game form, introducing interactive elements while maintaining the depth of storytelling skill that a novel can bring to the table and while it's not entirely successful, it's certainly worth spending some time with. The complex and involving plot revolves around a boy who makes an amazing discovery, an AI named Homer and the titular but highly mysterious portal. The whole thing is reconstructed by the player from database extracts, with further stores of knowledge opening up as the game progresses. To say more of the plot here would be to spoil much of the game's appeal but it is never less than engaging and provides plenty of surprises and drama. The quality of the storytelling itself is aided by some generally fine writing which reads extremely well, unlike many games, while the interface also makes interacting with it highly straightforward and accessible, which again contributes to the player's interest in seeing the story unfold. The visuals aren't exactly overly complex or impressive but they certainly do a reasonable enough job of conveying an appropriately mysterious atmosphere and are best described as effective rather than spectacular. Fortunately though, the main narrative is enough to overcome any visual shortcomings and is largely enough to carry the game by itself. Portal certainly isn't for everyone but if you enjoy good sci-fi tales or experimental games, then this will provide some thought-provoking entertainment.
An interactive fiction game in a dystopian setting
The game plays like a classic text based adventure but it also features graphics to aid you in managing your way around. You will play as an astronaut returning to Earth only to find it devoid of any human life. The only way to uncover what happened is to jack into a computer terminal connected to a storytelling mainframe (talk about the vision of future computing!) named Homer, who can be used to piece together the events that led to humanity's extinction. The interactive novel is very well written, so it should really interest people that love Sci Fi novels as well as interactive fiction in general. Those of you that don't really go for text based adventures might find Portal a little more easy to play, on one hand because of set of graphics accompanying the graphic adventure, but also because of the relatively well written parser interface. Also, the DOS version can be played with a mouse, which eases navigation at times and makes interaction more immediate. Portal is, bells and whistles asides, a great story, giving you inside into the sci-fi style of the mid 80s and also, a better more playable text based adventure than many others.
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