I’ve written before about the difficulties of learning to navigate a 3d world in first person. It’s daunting and slow, and usually means the player needs to learn how to walk and look around before they can begin learning the particulars of the given game. There is a certain overhead that must be dealt with before someone can play first person games. Because of this, the conventional wisdom is that first-person games are for hard-core players. As someone who probably falls into the “hard-core” demographic, I’m not really in any kind of position to assail that line of reasoning.
On the other hand, the conventional wisdom seems to be that hard-core players, (the kind which, if you see where I’m going with this, play first person games) have no interest in puzzle games. They want to shoot aliens, gun down Nazis, capture flags, and generally pwn n00bs and whatnot. I’m a good counter-example to this, although one noisy man on a website does not constitute a viable market. Until now, nobody has been willing to risk a couple of million bucks finding out if the hardcore players want puzzle-focused games. First person games are notoriously expensive to produce and doing so is a waste if players would be just as happy doing the same puzzle within the context of a lightweight 2d game. So the only way it could even make sense to consider a FPS puzzler is if the gameplay demanded that sort of perspective.
|9.8m/s2. I’m looking down from a ledge into a pair of portals on the floor. Looking down into the orange on I see the view looking up from the blue, and vice-versa. If I jump into the blue one I’ll come sailing out of the orange one feet-first. It’s disorienting, but fun.|
The game, like all great puzzles, is something which can be grasped in seconds and yet leads to challenges of fiendish complexity. In the game you have a “Portal Gun”. You can place portals onto any smooth flat surface large enough to hold one. Once you make two portals, they will be “linked” so that you can walk through one and come out the other. You can put them anywhere: Floors, ceilings, walls. You can look through the portal and see where it goes. Put the two portals facing one another and you’ll find yourself looking over your own shoulder into infinity, with infinite copies of yourself looking through the infinite portals. It’s like, deep, man.
|The sparse environments do a great job of keeping things focused on the puzzles|
The game is short, and it’s clear they weren’t sure how far to push this. The game introduces the various types of puzzles, then layers them together with gradually increasing complexity, culminating in a timed situation where you must employ everything you’ve learned so far. Then it ends. It’s obvious that they have barely scratched the surface of what can be done with this gameplay. It seems they are hoping that the fan base will take these tools and expand the game via user-designed maps. I look forward to seeing where that goes.
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