The original Portal was a unique and entertaining experiment by Valve, one that resulted in positive feedback from anyone who played it. The game proved to be a crossover of genres, combining the immensely popular first-person shooting genre with some old-school puzzle solving and platforming. The crossover worked like a charm, and fans were eagerly asking for more.
They got more, when Portal 2 was officially announced about a year ago. Since then, tons of information has popped up, not the least of which is a trailer from the Spike VGAs showing two robot buddies. But oddly enough, of all the information that’s surfaced regarding the sequel, little has been said of the protagonist from the first Portal, Chell. Where is she? What happened to her? Will she be returning?
Well, as it turns out, yes, she’s back. In the original game, Chell was very ambiguous. We knew very little about her, why she was a test subject for Aperture Science, what her background was, anything like that. The intent behind this was to allow the player to further immerse themselves in the game; to put themselves in Chell’s place and make it feel like their adventure instead of hers. Her outfit reflected that in that game, and it does the same for this one.
In the first game, Chell wore the strange orange jumpsuit that labeled her a test subject of Aperture Science. Just like Chell, the player first thinks that this is just a humorous series of tests to see how crafty one can be. Once GlaDOS decides to dispose of Chell, she’s desperate to make her escape, and like her, the player just wants to get out of there and get back to civilization.
Now, for the second game, Chell returns with the jumpsuit, only with the top half removed and tied around her waist, instead wearing a simple white undershirt for more mobility. This explains both her and the player’s intent: return to Aperture Science and take out GlaDOS for good.
The art director of Valve explained that this was also an attempt to better humanize Chell, to further reflect that she’s no longer just a rat in a cage, but someone hellbent on ending a menace to humanity. Centuries have passed since the first game’s events in the storyline, but for the sleeping Chell that time has passed in a split second, explaining her eagerness to end things and finally move on with her life, wherever that may lead her.
What do you think of Chell’s new look? Does it properly reflect her development? Can this be seen as an indication of things to come in the sequel?
Portal 2 is coming out for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and Mac on April 20, 2011.