Portal

Game review by
Dwight Odelius, Common Sense Media
Portal Game Poster Image
Innovative puzzler with first-person action.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 25 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 124 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive messages

Players are encouraged to form an emotional bond with an inanimate object, which they are later forced to destroy. The chief antagonist is an overbearing maternalistic robot that offers cake in exchange for good behavior.

Violence

In some of the puzzles, automated turrets fire on the player, splattering blood on nearby surfaces. There is no person-on-person violence.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this game contains some blood, the potential for the player to die, and some violence against inanimate objects. Parents should also know that the game is set in a near future in which humans are mysteriously absent, with suggestions that they have met some disturbing but unspecified fate.

User Reviews

Adult Written byfgh8ud May 17, 2010

Good game with a story too dark for younger children.

This is an amazing game, one of the best of all time, and it would be appropriate for younger kids if the storyline wasn't so dark. GLaDOS is a robot who w... Continue reading
Adult Written byGoodReviews330 April 9, 2008
Teen, 13 years old Written bynsvv April 30, 2011

A near perfect game, but unsuitable for under 13s

From a gameplay point of view, Portal is simply one of the best and deeply though out games I have ever played in my life. The puzzles are at times maddeningly... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byWell Informed Pizza September 11, 2011

Well...

The word h-ll is used once during the game, and some of GLaDOS' s taunts can get pretty-- ehh.... but most kids couldn't understand that until they... Continue reading

What's it about?

In PORTAL, the player controls a human character as if in a first-person shooter, only the player doesn't have any weapons, and there are only a few inanimate \"enemies\" to shoot. Instead, the player must work their way through increasingly difficult puzzle areas, guided by audio instructions from an artificially intelligent computer named \"GLaDOS.\"

To solve the puzzles, the player uses a device called an \"aperture gun\" which creates a temporary passage between surfaces. It works like this: shoot at a wall to create an opening, then shoot at the ceiling to create a second opening. Step through the opening in the wall, come out the one in the ceiling. Portal's sophisticated physics engine takes care of the rest.

Is it any good?

Puzzle areas generally take the form of a room or series of rooms through which players must proceed in order to "win." The aperture gun makes it possible to create a portal in order to get to out-of-reach areas, drop onto moving platforms, or retrieve distant objects. That fairly simple formula produces some fiendish puzzles which invite the player to repeat them many times over. That's good, because the game is unfortunately quite short, with only a few hours of game play to finish off the main story. And finishing is required: the charming little song at the end makes the struggle well worth it.

Portal is an excellent game, the standout star of 2007's Half-Life 2:The Orange Box game compilation, which also included the Half-Life 2 saga and Team Fortress 2. As a stand-alone product, Portal includes no additional game content on top of what was included with The Orange Box, so those who own The Orange Box should not pick up this edition of Portal. But since The Orange Box is an M-rated title, if you have a teen looking for an interesting puzzler, this stand-alone version of Portal is an outstanding choice. It represents a new genre of game that combines the sophisticated physics of a first-person shooter with minimally-violent puzzle content.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the possibility of sapient machines in our future and what our ethical responsibilities might be. Because this is set in a future mostly absent of humans, families could also discuss dangers, both real and imaginary, that could cause human extinction.

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $19.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Valve
  • Release date: April 9, 2008
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • ESRB rating: T

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