As I’ve played portal more and more, the level environment of the main facility in the game has begun to remind me more and more of a stylized futuristic insane asylum. The padding in the elevator walls and on some others in the facility, the flat lighting and Glados’ initially soothing voice being piped in from unseen speakers are all reminiscent of some sort of wild futuristic mental hospital complete with puzzles. The cameras placed around the facility to monitor Chell and the constant knowledge that Glados is watching you add to the sense that the player is trapped in an insane asylum. The back parts of the facility that Chell makes her way into later in the game are reminiscent of another different potential vision of a mental institution, with frantic-looking writing scrawled on the wall in various unknown substances. In fact, the entire facility that Portal is set in could be seen as a sort of asylum-gone-wrong scenario – but not for Chell, rather for Glados. By the end of the game it becomes fairly clear that Glados has gone crazy and had probably constructed many (if not all) of the levels as obstacles not to test the portal gun but as some sort of twisted test (or perhaps intended torture or killing) of Chell. Chell might not be crazy enough to be put in a mental institution but Glados is crazy enough to make an entire high-tech obstacle course just to mess with Chell for fun. It’s like a twisted version of the whole “mouse in a maze” experiment trope, with vats of acid and armed robots trying to stop Chell. In a sense, the entire facility is like a reverse madhouse, meant to protect the insane Glados from those who would try to reach the controller of the maze.
image source: https://brcondron.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/first-blog-post/