Feature Share it: Tweet 1UP COVER STORY 1UP COVER STORY | WEEK OF JULY 16 | THE ESSENTIAL 100, PART ONE The Essential 100, No. 97: Portal Cover Story: A triumph in experiential storytelling that rewrote expectations. It’s easy to recognize Portal as one of the biggest success stories from the Fall of 2007 in hindsight, but if you tried to predict that developer Valve’s highly anticipated puzzle platformer would match up to (and possibly exceed) the quality of games like BioShock or Halo 3, that would be quite a sale indeed. Portal’s success wasn’t completely unexpected — especially given developer Valve’s track record of crafting highly polished game experiences — but it came out during one of the most crowded release periods of the year. A lot of highly anticipated games came out in the Fall of 2007, with titles like Super Mario Galaxy, Rock Band, Call of Duty 4 and Mass Effect all sharing a pretty crowded holiday spotlight. And yet, like a bizarre twist in a well written TV drama, Portal stood as tall (if not taller) than its contemporaries, in terms of critical reception and praise, and delivered a narrative achievement that taught the industry a thing or two about the power of brief experiences in relation to video games. If there’s one thing I learned right away the second I played Portal, it’s to never judge a product by its marketing. All of Valve’s promotional materials indicated they were making a crafty puzzle game using portals, and the trailers taught me everything I needed to know before I even played the game. Using inter-dimensional doorways, called Portals, players could connect two different locations on a set plane. Thanks to the sheer simplicity involved with handling a Portal gun, the mechanics presented themselves in a basic manner at first: fire an entry portal, then fire an exit portal — all within a set space — and then step through one to come out of the other. Presto! Instant travel that could take you across a room or over a set of deadly obstacles.