The Secrets of Portal 2- Part 1 (Warning: Spoilers)

If, like me, you’ve spent great lengths of time over the past few weeks playing and replaying Portal 2, you’ve no doubt recognised the level of detail that the game has been blessed with; from the narrative to the visuals, the game is abundant with charming quirks and amusing nuances, and if there’s one thing the previous two ARGs have revealed about Portal 2 fans it’s that they excel at analysing the minutiae of the world of Aperture.

Portal 2 is a game awash with interesting secrets just waiting for the inquisitive fan to discover, and discover we have. I’ve compiled what I hope to be an entertaining collection of some of the less obvious easter eggs and references in the game that I and other Portal fans have had the pleasure of uncovering over the past few weeks. As you have no doubt worked out, there are major spoilers in this blog, as well as references to a lot of the easter eggs in the game. If you wish to finish the game yourself and haven’t done so yet or want to track down all of the games secrets for yourself then consider the following blog a restricted zone.


The Origin of the Mutant Potato

 Kids, extreme mutagens are not a toy.

As Ryan might say I’m starting with a show-stopper. This was one of the most mind-blowing easter eggs I’ve actually witnessed in any game. You probably remember the mutant potato growing into the ceiling which appears in the potato battery line-up from the Aperture Science ‘Bring Your Daughter to Work Day’. You may even have noticed that in the game’s end sequence you can see two turrets caught in the vines of the potato, while speeding up the lift to freedom. What you may not have noticed is the name on the presentation behind the potato.

In the bottom-right corner of the back piece of card, the words “By Chell” can clearly be seen. What’s more the writing on the presentation also claims that Chell cultivated the monstrous potato-battery-gone-wrong using a chemical from her father’s workplace, suggesting that Chell is the daughter of an Aperture Science employee. Even more disturbingly we know next to nothing of Chell’s backstory, but we do know that GLaDOS locked down the facility and killed the employees on the Aperture Science ‘Bring Your Daughter to Work Day’. It may actually be the case that Chell has spent her entire life from that day until adulthood trapped in the facility with GLaDOS, and all this is suggested by one little potato diorama.


Wheatley’s Spanish

In the few brief moments after Wheatley assumes control of the facility from GLaDOS, but before he attempts to crush you and your former antagonist into the ground, Wheatley proudly flaunts his intelligence by speaking out a full sentence in Spanish. This is not only seems to be a call-back to GLaDOS’ inadvertent Spanish in test chamber 1 of the original Portal, but a rather amusing joke within itself. When translated it turns out that Wheatley’s actually saying "You are using this translation software incorrectly, please consult the manual."


Safe Science

In one of his many downright insane pre-recorded messages Cave Johnson responds to the query of why so many of Aperture Sciences’ experiments are dangerous, asking “Why not?” and claiming “Why don’t you marry safe science if you love it so much?” You may remember that in the original Portal GLaDOS, trying to ward you away from her disused morality core, said “Why don’t you marry that thing if you love it so much?” An interesting parallel considering that to GLaDOS her morality core represented safe science.


The Impossible Space

 The impossible space, as it appears from the outside.

In the developer commentary for the game Valve developer Eric Tams mentions at one point that to ensure that they could change around the level design quickly during testing, they would use the same technology that drives the Portals to link different rooms together in the game world, creating a number of rooms in the game that were different sizes on the inside than they appeared on the outside. This technique is not unheard of in games development, however when the designs were finalised, all of the levels were linked together properly, without any portal technology, save for one area. In the commentary Tams challenges us to find it.

This impossible space is actually test chamber 75, in chapter 9, which Wheatley drops you into and surrounds you with turrets in, forgetting that hours earlier he helped you sabotage the turret manufacturing line. The entrance you make to this room is not through a simple hole in the ceiling, but rather a makeshift portal that teleports you across the map. I’d mention some of the other map secrets found on the way to discovering the impossible space, but I don’t want to ruin the magic.


GLaDOS’ Fast Speech

You’ll probably remember GLaDOS’ dialogue from chapter 2, test chamber 8, where she tells you that the following test chamber requires some instruction to complete, only to recite the “instructions” far too quickly for any human to interpret. Slowing this speech down, GLaDOS can actually be heard to clearly say “and methodically knocking people's hats off-- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can”. This is, strangely enough, actually a quote from the book Moby Dick.


Rick’s One-Liner

Some of you may remember Rick the Adventure Sphere from the game’s final battle; an enthusiastic artificial intelligence, a bit like a cross between a truck driver and Indiana Jones, but how much of Rick’s rambling did you listen too before attaching him to Wheatley? As revealed by Erik Wolpaw at the NYU Game Center, listening to Rick’s speech for long enough will add a small, additional line of dialogue to the game’s end when you finally beat Wheatley.


Vitrified Test Chambers

 One of the many sealed doors.

Down in old Aperture you may have very well come across the vitrified test chambers, sealed vaults behind which now abandoned test chambers once lived, where Cave tried everything from turning test participants blood to gasoline, to teleporting them across space at the risk of them losing their skin. The slightly less obvious detail is that interacting with the three test chamber doors nearest to the ‘Ship Overboard’ easter egg causes a curious message (image by Rocketbean) to appear in the command console on the PC version of the game: “DLCMANAGER: RequestDlcUpdate has no new content.” This suggests that some time in the future, Portal 2 DLC will be released which actually allows access to these vitrified test chambers. An exciting prospect indeed.


Where is Aperture?

A small easter egg and a not entirely hidden one, but just in case you haven’t found it, the newspaper in one of the lobbies in old Aperture actually reveals that the Aperture Science complex is almost certainly located in Upper Michigan, USA.


End of Part One

I hope you’re enjoying yourself so far but as to not flood you with more portal than is desirable (as if there is such a thing) I’ll be holding out on the other parts of this blog until a later date. Thank you for reading, good luck, and have turret.

-Gamer_152

24 Comments
25 Comments
Posted by Gamer_152

If, like me, you’ve spent great lengths of time over the past few weeks playing and replaying Portal 2, you’ve no doubt recognised the level of detail that the game has been blessed with; from the narrative to the visuals, the game is abundant with charming quirks and amusing nuances, and if there’s one thing the previous two ARGs have revealed about Portal 2 fans it’s that they excel at analysing the minutiae of the world of Aperture.

Portal 2 is a game awash with interesting secrets just waiting for the inquisitive fan to discover, and discover we have. I’ve compiled what I hope to be an entertaining collection of some of the less obvious easter eggs and references in the game that I and other Portal fans have had the pleasure of uncovering over the past few weeks. As you have no doubt worked out, there are major spoilers in this blog, as well as references to a lot of the easter eggs in the game. If you wish to finish the game yourself and haven’t done so yet or want to track down all of the games secrets for yourself then consider the following blog a restricted zone.


The Origin of the Mutant Potato

 Kids, extreme mutagens are not a toy.

As Ryan might say I’m starting with a show-stopper. This was one of the most mind-blowing easter eggs I’ve actually witnessed in any game. You probably remember the mutant potato growing into the ceiling which appears in the potato battery line-up from the Aperture Science ‘Bring Your Daughter to Work Day’. You may even have noticed that in the game’s end sequence you can see two turrets caught in the vines of the potato, while speeding up the lift to freedom. What you may not have noticed is the name on the presentation behind the potato.

In the bottom-right corner of the back piece of card, the words “By Chell” can clearly be seen. What’s more the writing on the presentation also claims that Chell cultivated the monstrous potato-battery-gone-wrong using a chemical from her father’s workplace, suggesting that Chell is the daughter of an Aperture Science employee. Even more disturbingly we know next to nothing of Chell’s backstory, but we do know that GLaDOS locked down the facility and killed the employees on the Aperture Science ‘Bring Your Daughter to Work Day’. It may actually be the case that Chell has spent her entire life from that day until adulthood trapped in the facility with GLaDOS, and all this is suggested by one little potato diorama.


Wheatley’s Spanish

In the few brief moments after Wheatley assumes control of the facility from GLaDOS, but before he attempts to crush you and your former antagonist into the ground, Wheatley proudly flaunts his intelligence by speaking out a full sentence in Spanish. This is not only seems to be a call-back to GLaDOS’ inadvertent Spanish in test chamber 1 of the original Portal, but a rather amusing joke within itself. When translated it turns out that Wheatley’s actually saying "You are using this translation software incorrectly, please consult the manual."


Safe Science

In one of his many downright insane pre-recorded messages Cave Johnson responds to the query of why so many of Aperture Sciences’ experiments are dangerous, asking “Why not?” and claiming “Why don’t you marry safe science if you love it so much?” You may remember that in the original Portal GLaDOS, trying to ward you away from her disused morality core, said “Why don’t you marry that thing if you love it so much?” An interesting parallel considering that to GLaDOS her morality core represented safe science.


The Impossible Space

 The impossible space, as it appears from the outside.

In the developer commentary for the game Valve developer Eric Tams mentions at one point that to ensure that they could change around the level design quickly during testing, they would use the same technology that drives the Portals to link different rooms together in the game world, creating a number of rooms in the game that were different sizes on the inside than they appeared on the outside. This technique is not unheard of in games development, however when the designs were finalised, all of the levels were linked together properly, without any portal technology, save for one area. In the commentary Tams challenges us to find it.

This impossible space is actually test chamber 75, in chapter 9, which Wheatley drops you into and surrounds you with turrets in, forgetting that hours earlier he helped you sabotage the turret manufacturing line. The entrance you make to this room is not through a simple hole in the ceiling, but rather a makeshift portal that teleports you across the map. I’d mention some of the other map secrets found on the way to discovering the impossible space, but I don’t want to ruin the magic.


GLaDOS’ Fast Speech

You’ll probably remember GLaDOS’ dialogue from chapter 2, test chamber 8, where she tells you that the following test chamber requires some instruction to complete, only to recite the “instructions” far too quickly for any human to interpret. Slowing this speech down, GLaDOS can actually be heard to clearly say “and methodically knocking people's hats off-- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can”. This is, strangely enough, actually a quote from the book Moby Dick.


Rick’s One-Liner

Some of you may remember Rick the Adventure Sphere from the game’s final battle; an enthusiastic artificial intelligence, a bit like a cross between a truck driver and Indiana Jones, but how much of Rick’s rambling did you listen too before attaching him to Wheatley? As revealed by Erik Wolpaw at the NYU Game Center, listening to Rick’s speech for long enough will add a small, additional line of dialogue to the game’s end when you finally beat Wheatley.


Vitrified Test Chambers

 One of the many sealed doors.

Down in old Aperture you may have very well come across the vitrified test chambers, sealed vaults behind which now abandoned test chambers once lived, where Cave tried everything from turning test participants blood to gasoline, to teleporting them across space at the risk of them losing their skin. The slightly less obvious detail is that interacting with the three test chamber doors nearest to the ‘Ship Overboard’ easter egg causes a curious message (image by Rocketbean) to appear in the command console on the PC version of the game: “DLCMANAGER: RequestDlcUpdate has no new content.” This suggests that some time in the future, Portal 2 DLC will be released which actually allows access to these vitrified test chambers. An exciting prospect indeed.


Where is Aperture?

A small easter egg and a not entirely hidden one, but just in case you haven’t found it, the newspaper in one of the lobbies in old Aperture actually reveals that the Aperture Science complex is almost certainly located in Upper Michigan, USA.


End of Part One

I hope you’re enjoying yourself so far but as to not flood you with more portal than is desirable (as if there is such a thing) I’ll be holding out on the other parts of this blog until a later date. Thank you for reading, good luck, and have turret.

-Gamer_152

Moderator
Posted by X19

I'm enjoying myself devouring these easter eggs.

Posted by GetEveryone

Really nice work . Did you research these yourself, or stumble across them on the net? Either way, great of you to amalgamate them like this. 

Posted by dankempster

That mutant potato thing is a prime example of why I think Valve are such awesome developers. In a novel or film, something like that would be more directly alluded to, or even explicitly stated. In Portal 2, it's a few little words in the environment that 99% of people would probably miss without any direction, but it hints at so much. It's a great, innovative style of storytelling that can really only work in an interactive medium like video games. Half-Life 2 was full of this kind of thing, as well.


Great job on these, Gamer_152. I'm looking forward to Part 2.
Edited by EuanDewar

I know about most of these beforehand but muchos thanks for informing me about the "Vitrified Test Chambers" one, I had hoped that when valve announced DLC it would be more of the crazy Cave Johnson era puzzles. Now im super pumped about new DLC!

Awesome job on getting all these easter eggs out to people who would have neverwise noticed them.

Posted by imsh_pl

Man these are awesome, good work!

Posted by Scooper

Awesome blog. I couple of these I did not know about.

Posted by Gamer_152
@X19: @dankempster: @imsh_pl: @Scooper: Thanks guys. Much appreciated.

@GetEveryone: Again, thank you. These blogs are a bit of a mix of things I discovered or interpreted myself and things that other Portal 2 fans have found. In either case though I've tried to verify everything I've discovered in the game itself and cross-referenced all this stuff with sites like the Steam forums and Combine Overwiki.

@EuanDewar: Thank you to you too sir. There's no guarantee that the Portal 2 DLC coming this summer will actually be the vitrified test chambers, as the working title 'Portal 2 DLC #1' suggests that they have additional DLCs coming which may cover these test chambers instead, but there's certainly a chance of it. Whenever we get to enter those vitrified chambers though, I really hope we get to hear more Cave.
Moderator
Posted by laserbolts
Awesome I didn't notice a couple of these while playing through. Think I might go back and play through it again. Thank you for this good sir.
Posted by Kyreo

gl ht


I like it.
Posted by KarlHungus

A cool idea would be to make a guide that doesn't tell us what the end result is. Like you point us to where it is, but we still get the surprise. Cool guide, but I don;t wanna read it because of spoilers.

Posted by Wrighteous86
Online
Posted by Daveyo520

God I love this game.

Posted by craigbo180

Some great finds in there sir, I didn't know most of these.

Posted by AnimalFather

is there a way to see the ending with the extra dialogue?
Posted by AhmadMetallic

Amazing fucking read, man. Keep them coming

Posted by FlyingRat

Good stuff, man. Looking forwart to part 2.

Posted by RagingLion

Wow, the origins of the mutant potato reveal is a pretty big deal so thanks for bringing that to light.  I immediately caught the safe science reference harking back to what GLaDOS said in the original Portal and I noticed the location of Aperture Science being mentioned as well.  Are there any huge salt mines in Upper Michigan?  Are some Valve fans now going to go on an intrepid expedition into an abandoned one and get into an ugly scrape?

Enjoyable to read.  Thank for this.

Posted by probablytuna

Awesome dude, keep them coming!

Posted by Yanngc33

Wow good stuff. 

Posted by FoxMulder

Finding out about all of these easter eggs is really tempting me for a 2nd playthrough and I just finished it!

Posted by Gamer_152
@laserbolts: @Kyreo: @craigbo180: @Ahmad_Metallic: @FlyingRat: @akiz_jack: @Yanngc33: @FoxMulder: Thanks a lot guys. It's been great to see so much positive feedback on this post.

@KarlHungus: I could have done that but I decided from the start that these blogs were really going to be about analysing the secrets in the game as opposed to just mentioning them. Thanks for your comment though.

@Daveyo520: Me too Dave, me too.

@AnimalFather: Yes there is. You can actually see the moment of extra dialogue here.

@RagingLion: Thank you, and yes, there were actually salt mines in Michigan, and most of them are now disused.
Moderator
Posted by asian_pride

I've just beat Portal 2, and came across this blog. Man, what an interesting read. The only thing that I got was Chell's mutant potato thing, and Valve did promise free DLC in the future (or I could be mistaken). If those Vitrified chambers are indeed DLC, hell yeah :)

Posted by dcgc

Great thread and great game. Didn't even know half of these easter eggs.

Posted by Mr_Skeleton

Im pretty sure they talk about all of these in the developer commentary.