Let’s start this off by saying that the following discussion contains serious spoilers for Portal 2. So if you have yet to finish the game, we strongly recommend you do so before reading any further. If you’ve completed the main campaign, or care more about Valve‘s other franchise Half-Life, then by all means read on.
Anyone who has finished Portal 2 is aware of the fact that the game’s ending is anything but final, and now the game’s writer has given a few more ideas on the reasons the team ended the story the way they did, and how it fits into the greater war between mankind and the Combine.
The ending of Portal managed to be both incredibly rewarding and somewhat of a disappointment. After finally escaping the Aperture Science facility and the manipulative AI GLaDOS, the protagonist Chell rose up to catch a brief glimpse of the outside world, only to slip back into blackness, being dragged back into imprisonment.
The various connections between Aperture Science and Black Mesa, the shadowy organization responsible for bringing forth the inter-dimensional enemies of the Half-Life franchise known as the Combine have been hinted at and even openly referenced by writer Erik Wolpaw. Portal 2‘s ARG marketing even hinted at Half-Life 3, so there’s no denying the fact that both Chell and Gordon Freeman exist within the same world, if not the same timeline.
But with Portal 2, fans of both series were hoping for something a bit more concrete. While that may not have been in the cards, Wolpaw has opened up about Chell’s fate following her emancipation from GLaDOS’ clutches, and whether the new world she steps into is one that holds her absolute freedom, or nothing but a barren planet.
Speaking with PC Gamer, Wolpaw shed some light on the finality of Chell’s entry into the world, and whether or not she has a happy ending to look forward to:
“Depending on howâ€¦ yes, generally speaking. Thereâ€™s always that debate about â€˜ooh we could pull the rug out from under you at the last minuteâ€™ which I guess we sorta did in Portal 1. I always feel thatâ€™s a little bit cheap, I feel you the player as Chell have earned a moment of grace, right?
“We did three endings, itâ€™s a long series of endings. We wanted to show you GlaDOS, show you Chell and then show you Wheatley â€“ GlaDOS learns a lesson and promptly deletes it so she can set herself back to zero. You learn whatever you learn and youâ€™re out and it doesnâ€™t look so bad â€“ but we know the Combineâ€™s probably lurking out there somewhere. And you get the Companion Cube back â€“ that could be good or bad, itâ€™s not really clear. In my mind GlaDOS has given you the Companion Cube like â€œtake your sh*t and goâ€, or the Companion Cube has been on its own adventure this whole time and just manages to escape at exactly the same moment you do, in which case itâ€™s probably pissed.”
After two whole games of death-defying feats and inspired puzzle-solving, Chell is more than deserving of a little time off. It’s easy to understand why the writers would want to imagine a more stress-free future for Portal 2‘s protagonist, but the fact of the matter is that the future Earth of Half-Life is anything but a walk in the park.
So while Chell’s fate may be left to the imagination of every Portal 2 player, Wolpaw admits that the facts of the Half-Life story are fairly straightforward. But even if the Combine invasion is unavoidable, the exact timeline of Portal 2 is never established, so Chell may just have a chance of riding happily into the sunset:
“The only qualification is something weâ€™re just kind of saddled with â€“ you know that the world to some extent has gone to sh*t, right? Itâ€™s not a happy world sheâ€™s exiting into. Although having said that we donâ€™t know how much time has passed â€“ maybe the Combine have been beaten back and the world is nice. If nothing else we want to give her as happy ending as we can, entering into the Half-Life universe. Itâ€™s a fairly bucolic scene, itâ€™s very nice. She gets serenaded on the way out, thatâ€™s always pleasant. She does get a happy ending, thereâ€™s no point in being negative about it, I just canâ€™t let go of the fact that we know where she gets that happy ending, and there could be some danger out there. Iâ€™m an adult, terrible sh*t happens to me all the time. I want happy endings for everyone, the kind Iâ€™m not gonna get in real life â€“ I mean, weâ€™re all gonna die, letâ€™s face it.”
As fatalistic as that way of thinking may be, it’s nice to know that Chell is more than prepared for whatever the world may throw at her. With Half-Life 3 presumed to be arriving sooner rather than later, and Valve confirming that they’re far from through with Gordon Freeman, there may be a chance that the two characters could run into each other somewhere down the road. Co-op campaign featuring Freeman and Chell, anyone?
Would you like to see Chell make an appearance alongside Gordon Freeman in the fight against the Combine? Do you think there’s any chance of a Portal 3, with Wolpaw speaking so clearly about Chell’s ‘happy ending?’
You can see the ending for yourself, and look for any other nods to Half-Life by picking up Portal 2 now for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Source: PC Gamer