Portal Stories Mel: A Must Play for Portal Fans
Fans of Valve have been clamoring for another game from them for years, especially from their favorite series. Portal is one of Valve’s hallmark games, which has not had another addition since 2011 with Portal 2. Many fans, myself included, want another Portal game. We may not ever get another one, but luckily for us, there are still fan-made mods that we can play. One of these mods stands well above the rest. I am of course talking about Portal Stories: Mel.
Portal Stories: Mel was made by Prism Studios and released on June 25, 2015. It has you play as Mel, a test subject hired by Aperture Science to test out a relaxation chamber. The game starts off at the height of Aperture Science in the 1950s. You get to see Prism Studios’ rendition of Aperture Science when it was still functional. That portion of the mod is spent mostly in a Half-Life-esque tram sequence where you ride through the facility while having exposition thrown at you. You make your way to the relaxation chamber and begin your test. However, the machine malfunctions and keeps you in stasis until you wake up decades later. I won’t spoil much more as I think it, like most games, is better experienced fresh.
Levels & Voice Acting
Right from the get-go, it is made apparent that the mod does not hold any punches when it comes to the puzzles. All of the puzzles utilize the various features of the Portal games to their full effect. From the gels, light bridges, to the excursion funnels, they are all there. Oftentimes you will have to think a little outside the box. You will have to use the various puzzle mechanics in unique ways that are not present in the other Portal games. They are quite challenging as well. Quite a few of them took me some time to solve, but they were very satisfying in the end.
All of the levels have a level of polish that makes them indistinguishable from Valve’s own level of polish. They all visually and thematically make sense within the world of Portal. The attention to detail put into the levels is especially apparent when you move from an older section of the facility to a newer section, as each will feature different props and textures.
The mod also features fully fleshed out dialogue for both the antagonist and your companion throughout the mod. They are both wonderfully voice acted and written. Both the writing and voice acting have a huge amount of polish. Again making it seem like it was done by Valve themselves. The music is beautifully done as well, fitting right in with Portal’s aesthetic.
Overall the mod is something I think all Portal fans should play. It features very creative and brain-busting puzzles that I think many fans would enjoy. It is around 7 hours long and is free on Steam if you own Portal 2. So if you already own Portal 2 you should play it ASAP.