It was actually among my professional objectives this year to play Portal. So last night I sat down with it for a few hours. It was enjoyable, and short (which was good); and original, which was also good. Well, the portal mechanic is certainly original (counting Portal as the true implementation of Narbacular Drop): the story a bit less so, for anyone who’s played Half-Life, or indeed any one of countless text adventures which employ the newly-awokened, amnesiac player character scenario.
If Portal, like many adventure games, is “a narrative at war with a crossword puzzle” (to quote Graham Nelson), then I think the crossword won. The narrative was good as far as that sort of thing goes, but the puzzle elements of the game almost crossed the line into frustration at times. Such is often the way with first-person motion puzzles. It must have been a tough task for the level designers to walk the difficulty line.
Still, worth playing, both for the fun of it and for the shared experience of gaming history.