Portal is effectively an extended player training exercise.
The [early Portal] game was limited, constructed to very carefully give a limited set of solutions within designed parameters to the player. The genius of Portal was that it subtly acknowledged and played with this concept. You can’t say ‘this is a controlled environment’ much more directly than placing players in minimalist ‘test chambers’ with limited resources outlined by infographics and light trails. So when towards the end you find yourself on the highway to hell and spot a way out, the huge and immediate visual change between environments, pacing, tone and puzzle style tell you powerfully that you’re not in Kansas any more.
– Stefan Barton-Ross on “Make a Game of That“
It never failed to amaze me how the most ordinary day could be catapulted into the extraordinary in the blink of an eye.
– Jodi Picoult in
But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”
Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!”
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
What if we built a rat maze for an ordinary person? Portal takes this idea and runs with it. The game starts with the normal Chell waking up in a pristine, doctor-waiting-room-like area. She is instructed by GlaDOS to then find her way through multiple bland-looking training rooms solving increasingly harder puzzles to get to the end, where there will be “cake” instead of cheese. (The cake may or may not be a lie.)