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Post-Mortem: Portal 2.5

By Katy133
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I like writing analyses.

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FilipeBPedrosa's avatar
This is my analysis of the game: It is a fan game, which is its greatest strength and its biggest weakness.

Let me unravel that comment a little. First, the graphics are very good. They brought to mind the Portal Labs pretty well, and I could have guessed its source even no one had told me it was a portal game. Kudos to that. The use of paralaxes was quite good too, and at the right times. The ceiling support for GLaDOS looked a little funny to me, but GLaDOS herself was well done. All in all, nice work.

The characters' banter was interesting and well done, for the most part. Some of the jokes missed their mark for me, but others got a good chuckle. As long as the story focused on the characters, it went pretty well.

The plot and the structure of the story, however, suffered. The interactiveness itself, likewise, was not very engaging. While part of the blame for these lies with general awkwardness of a first project, natural fumbling of an artist still getting used to the medium and to story creation. However, a lot of the problems stem because, in my opinion, it is a fan game.

Or rather: because, in my opinion, you did not think through the purpose or central point of the story or game while you were making it.

 There are reasons for you making the game, certainly! You loved the Portal 2 game, and wanted to make a tribute to it. You wanted to explore what might have happened after the events of Portal 2. And I'm pretty sure you love Wheatly's character (he does have a lovely British accent, doesn't he?) However, these are reasons to make a game, but they do not drive the game itself. A game needs a strong intention behind it, something to drive it towards its conclusion with all the inevitability of the setting sun.

The first Portal game was about two things: Thinking with Portals and interacting with GLaDOS. Through the first part of the game you learn how to use the portal gun, how to make the best of it, how to surmount obstacles with it. That is what drives the gameplay, as well as the story indirectly. It's all about testing, using and learning about portals, and how to use them for your advantage. And once you are free from the testing facility, you apply that knowledge in various ways to reach the end goal. It is impossible to get to the end without understanding portals, and that is what the game teaches us.

The other focus is GLaDOS. You learn a bit of her, little by little, with every interaction. You learn that she is funny, that she does not seem to care about your life, and doesn't seem to truly grasp how to interact with people, hence the many promises of cake. You also learn she is somewhat cruel (forcing you to "euthanize" the companion cube) and lies a lot (she fabricates and gives conflicting information many times, way before the reveal of the last testing chamber and its "cake" baking) Throughout the game the player learns of this character, who she is (if not exactly why she is like that) and eventually the player frees themselves from GLaDOS' grasp and confronts her at the end of the game. Suitable, considering the game revolved on that character. She was part tutor, part companion and mostly enemy, and an integral part of the game. Every line that she says has a purpose, aside from being funny, and that is to show the player who GLaDOS is.

Portal 2, as well as other good games, all have their own themes and goals, things that tie the work together into more than just "stuff happening". They are the heart of their work, what keeps them alive and working.

Your game had a lot of care and love, I know it. I can see how hard you worked and how much you love the characters. Unfortunately, it does not have this heart I am speaking of.

There is Wheately's redemption, but that point isn't touched much by the plot. There is the reveal that personality cores are made from people, which is arguably the most important part of the plot, but even that is used as a plot device and little more. How were we, the players, supposed to feel when we found that out? Were we supposed to feel bad for Wheately? I got that, a little, but it didn't go too much in depth on why was that so sad. I never got to see much of human Wheately, and core Wheately himself seemed mostly ashamed or secretive rather that actually sad.

The puzzles, likewise, had no core linking them, and I felt they were a bit too easy. Still, they weren't terrible, as some others put it. I see you tried to connect the RPG maker template to portal puzzles quite hard, and while some puzzles felt a bit awkward (the labyrinth is a good example. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice labyrinth, but what is it doing here?)

Go back to your story and look at every part and ask yourself "Why is this part important to my game?" Ask yourself if it adds anything important or makes the player feel something. And then ask yourself if there is a better way to do this. Try to improve it. Intent is key in all works of art, and games are no exception.

It may seem I spent a whole load of words criticising your game, but truth be told I enjoyed parts of it, and do not regret playing. The humor is nice, the references to the previous game bring back good memories, and you were quite creative in using RPG Maker to make a portal-based puzzle game. And you FINISHED this huge project. Which automatically makes you better than me, who have never finished any game like this. Congratulations, this is not bad at all for a first project. And I am sure your next one will be even better!

I eagerly await for when it comes out (or any other of your projects, for the matter.

I hope this criticism proves helpful, and if I have left any part unclear just ask me. 

   Filipe