Because we’re trying our hardest to stay spoiler-free, there really isn’t an awful lot we can tell you about the way that the game actually progresses. We can confirm that the voice of the Aperture Science Center, which is the voice you hear in the trailers and at the start of the game, features heavily throughout the game and is the only character you’ll have direct contact with.
Other characters and test subjects are alluded to and as the game continues, the whole story and design definitely starts to take on a more sinister edge if you keep your wits about and explore the levels more thoroughly.
Exploring isn’t exactly hard, either, because the tests mostly take place in small, sparsely decorated rooms. If you can see your hand in front of your face then you’ll find at least some of the pseudo-hidden content in the game. It’s all secret enough that you’ll feel good when you find it but you’ll also be pretty hard pushed to miss it.
On top of this sinister feel though is a quirky kind of black humour which pervades through all the levels and seeps into everything the digital voice tells you – whether that be boasting about cake availability or warning you to beware of your teeth falling out from overuse of the portal gun.
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Portal isn’t exactly a long game and the humour is perfectly paced throughout it. It never gets on your nerves and it serves as an excellent reward system when you finish a test.
Don’t be put off by the above though. Portal may not be an overly long game, say around three or four hours depending on intelligence, but after you finish the standard game there’s still a wealth of things to do.
There’s a series of achievements for example, which have also been incorporated into Episode Two and give you awards if you can complete the game under certain conditions. There’s also the developer commentary, which gives you an insight into the game from the designers' point of view and is available once you’ve finished a level. Add on top of that the bonus maps segment which unlocks two extra game modes; advanced and challenge.
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In challenge the levels are the same as before, but they are played separately and the aim is to set a personal record by trying to complete a test in the least number of steps or with the least number of portals possible. The advanced maps are different again, with slightly more fiendish puzzles and hazards thrown into the levels to make them more difficult.
There’s no multiplayer to speak of, but if you ask us then that’s a fair deal. The Orange Box already comes with a multiplayer portion and a singleplayer action game, after all. Portal is meant to be separate to those - it’s meant to be a puzzle game.