Holy shit. Just when I don’t think I can be more in love with this game the credits start to roll and it ends with … an original song?! I am, of course, talking about Portal.
When the Orange Box came out in 2007, gamers everywhere were blown away by the value. Half-Life 2, Episode 1 & 2, Team Fortress 2, and a little puzzle game called Portal were part of the deal and it was utterly mind-boggling. Portal was just kinda thrown in there, like a cherry on top of an already generously-portioned slice of cake, but man, what a cherry! Much to my gamer cred’s shame I have not, to this day, completed any Half-Lives or competed in a single match of Team Fortress. I’m sure they’re great. I have nothing against them but the olde adage: too many games, too little time.
Portal, however, is a different story entirely. In 2007 I was going to college, I was newly married, and I was working a couple of jobs in order to pay for school and make ends meet. My gaming time was a precious commodity and early buzz was that Portal was short and very sweet. So that’s what I started first and it immediately sucked me in. The writing was sharp and funny. The puzzles were intuitive and creative. The plot was menacingly absurdist. It’s one of those things like Scott Pilgrim vs The World, or Gravity Falls, or Bulletstorm that felt perfectly made just for me.
And then the credits roll and that song! I listened in awe, controller in my lap, laughing with delight at the sheer silliness of it all. Experiences like that come along maybe once in a generation. Twice if you’re extremely lucky. I’ve found the best thing to do is sit back and just let it take you. And if you know the words, sing along.