Does “Portal” need a sequel?
I’m not asking whether you think one is coming. Every major gaming studio makes sequels. Every major publisher backs them. They are marketable. And there’s no reason to think that the people at Valve, who made “Portal” and bundled it for console owners with a “Half-Life” sequel, two “Half-Life 2” episodic sequels and a “Team Fortress” sequel, don’t like making sequels. I’ve already proposed the name for any sequel’s multiplayer mode: “Portal Combat.” With that kind of help they must be well on their way.
I’m asking if any of you who have played “Portal” feel that the game needs a “Portal 2.” And do you need it? Would your gaming lives be richer for it?
“Portal” was a game-changer for many of us. It’s the only done-in-three-hours original, linear game from a major developer I’ve ever played. It felt like a smart, sharp video game short story. It also felt more thoroughly accomplished than most games, excelling not just in the “easy” categories of gameplay and art direction, but in the more rarely achieved standards of engaging writing and memorable soundtrack singing. The game is polished, has much sparkle and bears few flaws.
I’ve written that when I finished the game I felt an unusual thing: satisfaction. I didn’t immediately want more, in part because I was so comfortable with what I had just got. But games are iterative and sequels in this field generally improve upon their predecessors. Lately I’ve been thinking that, in game terms, a “Portal 2,” would probably be better, just as the inevitable sequels to a “Rock Band,” “Gears of War” or “Asssassin’s Creed.” But am I really right to think that in the case of a “Portal” sequel? Just because that’s how it used to work?
In other creative fields it is common for creators to get it right the first time. Is it possible that “Portal” — a game that is just so small, so refined, so right — is in that league?