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.