By: John Michael Bennett
Valve can’t count to three—unfortunate for long-time fans of series’ like Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, and Portal. However, they have released further instalments of Half-Life by cheating and just releasing “episodes” after Half Life 2. Unfortunately, the same treatment cannot be said for Portal, with the second game having been released four years ago. In the mean time, players have been able to download terrible fan-made mods, and not-so-badly made fan levels. In June 2015, that changed with the release of Portal Stories: Mel, a free Portal 2 fan-made mod.
Portal Stories: Mel was designed and voiced by long-time fans of Portal, including well-known Portal parody song writer, Harry101UK—best known for his “This Is Aperture” parody of “This is Hallowe’en.”
While many Portal mods or fan-made levels focus on challenging long-time players and offer little story, this new game offers both a new story and new level-design. Despite being a “mod” of Portal 2 the game adds a whole new look to the Portal/Aperture world, offering a new glimpse of the world.
The story starts in 1951, when a test subject named Mel is guided through the start of the process with a young Cave Johnson—who is seemingly just learning to use the recording system, which adds a whole new take to the usually confident Cave. Once Mel goes to sleep in the Short-Term Relaxtion Centre, and wakes up after a not-so-short term, an imposter Cave Johnson comes on over the air trying to convince her no time has been lost.
Being a mod, the voices themselves are from the creators and collaborators, so players should be prepared to not expect J.K. Simmons—after all, you’re playing it for free and J.K. Simmons is now an Oscar winner—apparently not for science.
This is the closest thing fans will get to a new Portal story for a while, and it’s completely free on Steam for Portal 2 owners.