Chell soars across the room in her Air Portals and dunks into another blue portal! The crowd goes wild! “Bzzzt!”
When I began my play-through of Portal I conjured up my past exposure to science fiction’s dystopian future subgenre through various tabs on my internet browser. Some of the included films were The Island (2005), Total Recall (2012), and I, Robot (2004). These three films are similar in that they share a futuristic setting with a persistent skepticism by the protagonist of the “reality” in which they live in. Albeit Chell doesn’t talk (gameplay still in progress), there hasn’t been an indication that she is hesitant to progress. With GLaDOS’ constant bickering, it doesn’t feel as if Chell has any choice in the matter as GLaDOS continuously talks about progressing through the rooms as obstacles needed to be completed. Themes that were also included in my research of the genre were Artificial Intelligence, robots, advanced weaponry, distorting space and time, and bionic enhancements.
The interaction with the turrets during my gameplay reminded me of the game Azure Striker GUNVOLT (3DS). I would build a barrier using blocks and hide behind them until I was ready to make my move. Although Azure Striker GUNVOLT is a 2D platform game the game strategies were similar. The aesthetic choices were also similar. The backdrop in Azure Striker is a darkened cityscape and the chambers that hold the various bosses resembled the room structure in Portal. Interestingly enough, one of the bosses in Azure Striker uses portals to make their attacks.
The most important aspect of the game, personally, was the bionic leg enhancements on Chell’s legs. Without the enhancements the portal physics would be pointless. As a basketball fan, the joy in executing 360 degree spins into a second blue portal and soaring out of the orange portal was priceless. Did I mention I am using the WASD + trackpad combination to complete the game?
This notion of intersectionality between various media allows for deeper exploration and appreciation of a video game. Without an understanding of futuristic dystopian sci-fi or personal appreciation of air gliding in basketball, Portal would have been a mundane puzzle platform game.