It was a Triumph
Yes, I know I'm late to the Portal party. Although I played through the story shortly after the game came out on my brother's Steam account, I left my Portal experience at that and didn't think much about it somehow, besides occasionally humming the insanely catchy "Still Alive" credit songs every now and then.
Now however, Steam has released Portal for free to celebrate Steam being released on the Mac and I took their generous gift, installed it and headed back into the bowels of Aperture science.
Portal is a first person physics puzzle game that centers around the use of (surprise) portals. The basic concept is difficult to explain but easy to comprehend once you see it in practice. Essentially, throughout the game the player will be in control of a gun that can place two separate portals on walls, ceilings or floors. Go in one, and you come out the other. Simple right? Wrong. Eventually more advanced tactics such as the use of inertia or shooting portals at the ground where you are going to land while flying through the air at terminal velocity are brought into play, but it's done at just the right learning curve so you truly come to understand the mind bending ways this mechanic can be used in a very well thought out pace.
I had also forgotten how much amazing character and humor the game's story had. You play as a blank slate of a character with no dialogue or even personality. You wake up in a "relaxation chamber" to the voice of GlaDOS, a computer who explains that you will be participating in an experiment. Throughout the short story she acts as your narrator, guide, and cold omnipresent malicious imprisoner. Her dialogue is some of the best black humor ever written and manages to keep the player motivated up until the final confrontation. As GlaDOS sings you away through the credits in one of the wittiest songs I've ever heard, I'm guessing you'll be hard pressed to not wonder what the future holds for Aperture science.
It's hard to explain what makes this game so inherently... good. It's short, not visually impressive (although the style is certainly distinct) and it's core gameplay mechanic has even been done before. For what it is though- a short, mind-bending and darkly humorous adventure- it is crafted perfectly and nothing quite like it has ever come around before. I highly recommend you check it out.