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I’ve played Portal many times, but I only ever played Portal 2 once, back in 2011 when it was released, shortly before starting this blog. My decision to return to it now was not actually prompted by the game’s recent 10th anniversary — or perhaps it was, but indirectly. A friend mentioned they’d replayed it (they did not say if the anniversary prompted them to do so) and sung its praises, telling me that they hadn’t thought anything could be better than the original game, but Portal 2 managed to do it. This surprised me, because my own memory of Portal 2 was that it was good but couldn’t quite live up to the high bar set by its predecessor. But maybe I was wrong? After all, I’d never gone back to Portal 2 like I had with the first game. Maybe, playing it again now, I’d find myself admitting that it surpasses the first Portal. I decided to find out.
I mostly want to write about the narrative structure of the two games, so in a break from tradition this post will be full of spoilers for both games. Read on at your own risk!