Portal: Prelude is an unofficial fan-made prequel to Valve’s awesome Portal game. Like many others, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this mod. Yesterday, I got the opportunity to download and play it.
Unfortunately, excitement was quickly replaced by disappointment immediately after the start of the game. For starters, the game’s dialogues are riddled with grammar errors.
That was close, doesn’t it? is just one of many mistakes. Recruiting a native English speaker would not have been just a luxury. The dialogues are extremely awkward, which pretty much ruins any attempt at an in-dialogue joke.
The test chambers in the original Portal were fun and entertaining. Portal: Prelude’s puzzles, on the other hand, are hellishly frustrating. For many puzzles you need exact timing, you need to be able to aim at exactly the right spot, and on top of all that, you need a huge load of luck and a lot of patience.
Figuring out how to find the exit of a given test chamber is not too hard. Actually getting there is a whole other story. In short, Portal: Prelude’s gameplay is purely sadistic.
The game relies on crouching while jumping. According to the developers, crouching affects momentum. Huh? Momentum is the product of mass and velocity; crouching changes neither factor. Drag? Hardly relevant. Get your physics right, please.
Nicolas, Portal: Prelude’s lead developer, regularly mentions that the game has been play-tested. Considering I couldn’t finish the first part of the second test chamber for more than half an hour, even after getting numerous hints from the forums, I can hardly believe there really was any play-testing at all.
I was expecting a mod with maps that resembled the original Portal’s advanced levels: difficult, challenging, but well-balanced. Instead, I got a bunch of maps that rely on quirks in the game’s physics.
I’m tempted to say
I’m making a note here, great failure but that would probably be too harsh. Portal: Prelude is not a bad attempt, but it nonetheless falls short in many aspects. It’s probably a better idea to (re)play the original Portal’s advanced or challenge levels instead of this mod.