Portal: Companion Collection – 8 Beginner Tips
With the Portal: Companion Collection, more people than ever are experiencing two of the best puzzle games in video gaming history. The first Portal started as the dream of some students until it was developed by Valve into a full game in its own right. Portal 2 continued and improved on its predecessor's story, gameplay, themes, and narrative.
You may feel a little intimidated. Maybe puzzle games aren't your thing, but you want to experience this piece of gaming history. Maybe you just have a friend who told you how difficult it was for them. Have no fear; we're here to tell you everything you need to know.
8 Most Puzzles Have Multiple Solutions
Portal games are made up of a series of puzzles that you solve to progress through the story. The early ones are pretty simple, but towards the middle and end of the game they become pretty challenging.
Some people, in an attempt to solve a puzzle they're struggling with, will try to guess what the developer expected them to do. We want to warn you not to fall down this rabbit hole. Portal often has multiple possible ways to solve a part or all of a puzzle, so you'll only sink yourself deeper into despair.
7 Don't Push Yourself: Breaks Are Essential
When stuck on an especially puzzling puzzle, some players become stubborn. They keep hitting their head against the wall even though their ability to actually figure out the solution just keeps going down. You won't be able to figure it out if you're tired, impatient, or angry.
You should keep an eye out for this because it can happen to people who don't even think of themselves as stubborn. We know it's happened to us. In these moments, just take a break, turn the game off, and do something else. When you return, the solution will probably come easily. Even if it's not exactly easy, it'll be easier than if you had been working at it for hours. You'll be happier when it's over, too, not just relieved and exhausted.
6 Explore The Nooks And Crannies
Take us at our word: you should spend a lot of time investigating Aperture Science's facility. There are lots of hidden things to discover! You might stumble upon one or two just by accident, before realizing you've reached a dead end.
We don't want to spoil anything, but the hidden places (and even just details on the normal paths that you wouldn't normally focus on) can provide significant world-building to the experience. As an added bonus, they provide an extra layer of unease to the events of the story.
5 Keep Careful Track Of Which Color Portal You're Using
Portal operates on a very simple system. You have a gun that makes the titular portals: one blue and one orange. The blue portal, when placed, will lead to the orange portal, and vice versa. If you shoot one blue portal, then go to the other side of the room and shoot a second blue portal, the first blue portal will be destroyed.
It's very important, then, to know which color portal you'll be using. Sometimes, you may need to shoot portals while in mid-air and moving, or in other perilous conditions. Hitting the wrong button and shooting the wrong portal may force you to restart. Admittedly, there are certain places where the game forgives your error and switches the portals around for you, but mostly only when you're already deep into something you can't escape, or when it's important for the narrative. Don't rely on it.
4 Use In-Game Items Creatively
Portal will introduce lots of interesting mechanics for you to test with during your time at Aperture Science. There are robots that shoot you, cameras that watch you, and boxes to weigh down buttons, to say nothing of the various deadly substances, like oil and lasers.
To have the easiest experience in Portal, don't be afraid to use these in-game items in ways that they may not seem meant for. If you pick up a robot corpse, you can block a few bullets or weigh down a button. If you angle a laser correctly, you can burn a few enemies to a crisp. The possibilities are endless, and these tests don't have right or wrong answers. Your only goal is to survive.
3 When In Doubt, Make Sure You've Found All The White Surfaces
Sometimes, it's as simple as making sure you haven't missed anything. You'd be surprised at the number of times a puzzle was solved by using a white, portal-able surface that we'd missed or had underestimated.
In some places, the lighting of the game can make a surface seem like it might not be white, so… just start shooting. There's no harm, and you might discover a place to put a portal that you could only reach through a crack in a window or on the other side of the room.
It's also just good to get back down to basics, sometimes. When you've really gotten inside your own head about a puzzle, strip the situation down to its bare bones and ask "what can I actually affect right now? where can I actually place a portal, and how can I use that place to my advantage?"
2 Play Co-Op
The original Portal is exclusively single-player. The campaign for the second game followed the same formula, but it also added a separate co-op mode! There, you and a friend can control two robots built by GlaDOS and take on entirely new puzzles designed for teams.
Though this is an exciting challenge for the two of you, the co-op mode isn't just about showing you a good time. By the end of all the co-op puzzles, you'll have discovered a secret about GlaDOS that isn't revealed in the ordinary campaign.
1 Read Lab Rat between Portal and Portal 2
Lab Rat is a comic that was published online for free by Valve to provide a little bit of backstory about the mysterious character Rat Man, who leaves helpful notes for you during the first game.
The best time to read it is right after finishing the first Portal, so it's all fresh in your memory, but we'll just be happy if you read it at all. This web comic is artfully drawn, emotionally compelling, and we wish there were 100 more chapters.
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