Portal: Prelude Review

Earlier this month a hard-working portal fan and a couple of his friends released their unofficial prequel to the critically acclaimed Portal. Portal Prelude is intended to be more than “yet another map pack without any real story”. So can a mod with such a small development team live up to the legacy of everyone’s favourite cake related game?

This was a triumph…

Prelude - Screenshot 2552

Looking rather familiar there

Portal was released along with Team Fortress 2 and Half Life 2: Episode 2 as part of the Orange box just over a year ago. It quickly proved itself to be a worthy edition to a collection containing two highly anticipated sequels to some old favourites. Receiving praise from both critics and  the game playing public for its blend of first person puzzle gameplay and pitch black humour, Portal attained many awards including several ‘Game of the Year’ awards from some of the top magazines. Not to mention an average review score of 9.0/10.0. Big shoes to fill for Portal Prelude then, the first portal mod to try to meet the scope of the original game.

We do what we must…
Installing the game is made easy for you as the included extractor puts everything where it needs to go, once you’ve restarted Steam you can load Prelude just like any of your other Steam games. Loading into the game for the first time you find yourself in the familiar surroundings of an Aperture Science observation room. The room comes complete with your standard sleep pod, talking companion toilet, radio blasting out music, and of course a portal for you to leap through and begin whatever tests those crazy scientists have dreamed up. At first glance Prelude looks very polished and has that nice Portal feel to it, but then things start to change a little.

Except the ones who are dead…
Unlike Portal this game does not start you off with simple tasks in the first few chambers and slowly build up the tools you need. You’re often thrown right in at the deep end, and it’s somewhat jarring to meet your death at the business end of not one but four turrets in the first chamber. It quickly becomes apparent that this is a very different Portal experience to the original game. Lots of rooms require that you learn a new and often difficult technique without being taught in a safe environment first. Unfortunately this can, and frequently will, lead to your untimely death.