Portal: Companion Collection (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 30.05.2023

Review for Portal: Companion Collection on Nintendo Switch

In 2007, Valve and EA released The Orange Box; a compilation release that included Team Fortress 2, Half-Life 2 and both of its episodic release, but the standout title was Portal. To say that the latter was a game changer is an understatement. This was a juggernaut back in the day - it was all anyone talked about and became an enduring part of video game's cultural zeitgeist. Its success would lead to Portal 2, a big sequel that doubled down on its innovation and darkly quirky sense of humour. The only thing left was for these titles to go portable, and Portal: Companion Collection on Nintendo Switch combines both titles in a single package. After all this time, how do these granddaddy first-person puzzlers hold up?

Portal is possibly the most accessible first-person game ever designed. It has a very appealing premise involving players trying to escape a lab that is under control of GLADDOS, an insane AI. The only way out of GLADDOS' experiments is to master the portal gun. This tool makes two holes that connect; one blue and the other orange. Portal eases gamers into using this dimensional gimmick by gradually introducing new elements that vastly add depth. Portal's advanced stages have ingenious "Eureka" moments. The subtle cues in which this nudges users towards a solution is peak game design in its purest form. Learning how to harness kinetic energy from falling to launch the protagonist upwards out of a floor-portal is unbelievably satisfying, thanks to the visual and audio kinaesthetics. The momentum, compounded with the whooshing sound and having pinpoint accuracy to drop another portal is the game mixing action-style reflexes and puzzle solving intuition as one.

Screenshot for Portal: Companion Collection on Nintendo Switch

Using inertia to reach unbelievably high platforms, redirecting missiles to break a barrier, or transporting boxes from areas they could normally never reach; it is almost as if the challenges seem limitless. Veterans who enjoyed Portal back in 2007 will still find that the gameplay and test chambers are still engrossing as ever. Even better, Portal: Companion Collection includes the Still Alive content. These bonus stages offer more challenges and are creative interpretations of the often-forgotten browser-based 2D flash version of Portal.

The narrative between both titles in Portal: Companion Collection revolves around GLADDOS, the rogue AI everyone loves to hate. She undergoes substantial character growth throughout both instalments; starting as a petty, murderous AI who is excited to subject the protagonist to experiments, to a begrudging participant and ally. She is contrasted by Wheatley - an AI core who was designed to dumb GLADDOS down so she couldn't become too powerful. Wheatley is a much funnier character than anything the first Portal had to offer. He is voiced flawlessly by comedy actor, Stephen Merchant of The Office fame. He breathes a lot of dry English, bumbling wit into the character and truly embodies him in every scene, never breaking the illusion. Wheatley's character also gets a surprising amount of depth. He is riddled with insecurities and aspires for something better. His simple mindedness is his downfall; ultimately succumbing to insatiable lust for power.

Screenshot for Portal: Companion Collection on Nintendo Switch

Portal 2 is a way beefier experience than the first, employing many new gimmicks and mechanics to mix up the experience. Repulsion and propulsion gels make players bounce and slide respectively, as well as have a fluid-like property to them like in the Splatoon series. The drawback to the sequel is that there is a greater focus on telling the story than allowing people to explore or tinker with the possibilities of portals. There is less doubt on where to drop a portal because there are so fewer surfaces that are compatible. It feels less like solving a puzzle and more like going through the motions. The greater emphasis on comedy also sometimes comes at the expense of the story and lore in the universe. Some jokes are absurd and outlandish but are also meant to be taken seriously. Taking some of these gags at face-value means that in the Half-Life universe at one point there were mutant mantis-men or somebody died from having "peanut water" for blood. This is a stark contrast with the dark humour in the first game which came from characters and circumstances; not from insane leaps of logic.

Screenshot for Portal: Companion Collection on Nintendo Switch

The co-op mode in Portal 2 is a beefy experience that runs as long as the entirety of the first game. This mode has two players with four portals soling some of the most ingenious test chambers the series has ever had. During split-screen, the visuals and frame rate never falter. Other extras included in Portal: Companion Collection are various trailers from early builds of the games and all the updates that added bonus chambers and extended the life of the sequel.

Portal: Companion Collection on Nintendo Switch aims to deliver the definitive versions of Portal and its sequel. The short version is: yes, this compilation delivers. The subtle visual improvements, smooth frame rate and quicker load times across both titles make the experience feel more polished than ever. The baked-in shadow quality is improved and so are the reflective surface effects. Texture detail is higher and there appears to be some occlusion effects added to further ground the objects in each scene. There also seems to be some physics enhancement done to the player-character's movement. Both titles feel like there is a little bit of a glide to walking and it feels less stiff.

Screenshot for Portal: Companion Collection on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Like The Orange Box before it, Portal: Companion Collection is one of the greatest compilations assembled. It is the complete Portal experience, with all the fixings and extras one would hope for and then some. Both titles are excellent, and still hold up better than one would think. They always felt like they belonged on a Nintendo console. They embody its spirit of innovation and creativity, while being wrapped in a comfy sardonic blanket, which feels right at home on Switch, be it on the big screen or on-the-go.

Developer

Nvidia LightSpeed Studios

Publisher

Valve Corporation

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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