Portal is a puzzle franchise developed by Valve. The series relies on solving puzzles with portals and has gained both critical and financial success.
In Portal, players control Chell, a test subject in the Aperture Enrichment Center. In the game Chell wields the hand held Portal device and attempts to escape from the enrichment center and the deranged AI, GLaDOS. In the beginning Chell wakes from a Stasis cell to GLaDOS, and is moved along through the tests with the promise of freedom and escape. At the end of the tests as she is about to be incinerated she jumps into a nearby repair duct and escapes from the test and now the next part of the game is spent going throughout the complex in an attempt to escape. At the end of the game Chell incinerate GLaDOS as she references the chaos going on outside of the complex (supposedly the events of Half-Life 2) and once the game is over the song Still Alive plays and shows a room with the Companion Cube and cake. A patch was released, changing the ending with Chell getting dragged back into the facility, preparing the game's story for Portal 2.Portal 2 is set many years after the end of Portal. Chell is still in Aperture and she still wishes to escape. GLaDOS rises from the dead while new characters are introduced such as the Personality Sphere Wheatley and Aperture's founder Cave Johnson. The first act of the game reprises the same concept as the first with Chell having to pass all of GLaDOS' tests while the second act has GLaDOS and Chell teaming up against Wheatley who has taken control of the facility. The game ends with GLaDOS taking control of Aperture and finally letting Chell go.
Connection to Half Life
Portal takes place within the same universe as Half Life. Within the backstory Arpeture Science is a long time rival of Black Mesa's and both are competing to get a portal device to market. (The failure of Black Mesa to do this successfully leads to the events of Half Life 1) This is never explicitly made clear within the game apart from a few references to Black Mesa. In the final battle of Portal, however Glados mentions various activities going on outside since Chell's imprisonment that she can not make sense of. In addition during the ending song Glados tells Chell "Maybe you'll find someone else to help you/ Maybe Black Mesa/That was a joke/ha ha Fat Chance" It is believed by most fans that these cryptic clues refers to the invasion of Earth by the Combine.
What has made this franchise so popular is the use of the portal gun, a gun that lets you shoot two portals. You shoot one portal in a wall then another one into another wall and you can then walk through one portal to the next. This lets for some challenging puzzles. This is the only weapon you get in the game and must use it to get around obstacles. Some walls don't let you shoot portals at them, automated turrets that you have to knock over and some puzzles even demand you launch yourself through in a portal in order to get over certain obstacles.
Portal 2 introduced many new mechanics including lasers, refraction cubes, ariel faith plates and gel. These new elements had to be used in conjunction with the portals to solve puzzles. Portal 2 also had a co-op mode.
The first Portal game was very well received by critics and praised for its originality and humor, often being seen as the best game of the Orange Box. A mod community formed around the game with users making their own test chambers. The game was ported to XBox Live with additional levels ( Portal: Still Alive).
Portal 2 was released in 2011 to widespread critical acclaim.