This review is for the first “episodic” installment of the Portal Memories mod (for Portal). According to the team behind it, the mod operates under a “play as it grows” structure, meaning that there will be more content every few months which is good as the first release it pretty short and the design suffers for it. The entire episode consists of four maps and will run you perhaps a quarter of an hour to finish. Being the first episode, the developers seem determined to wean players back into the Portal mechanics by only giving you the power of blue portals, meaning that the puzzles are somewhat simplistic.  There’s a clever moment where the mod will surprise you by doing something that is both logical and unexpected, but it’s largely pretty simple stuff.

This doesn’t prevent one of the levels from being excessively difficult however. The level dangles across a precipice and it’s frustratingly easy to slip down to your death five or more times, attempting to complete a fairly simple puzzle.  What makes this even worse is that you usually fall onto a walkway below, however there is no way to either climb up from this walkway or throw a portal down to get yourself back into the level, forcing you to commit suicide. Which is pretty demoralising by the third time.

The game's "hub world"

The levels all look fantastic, a great deal of work has gone into making the chambers look visually striking. Although Valve deliberately eschewed having a lot of detail in Portal, Memories revels in having detailed chambers and it looks stunning. Particularly (and ironically), the perilous drop I complained about earlier is a real treat to see. What few animations are in the game are of surprising quality as well. The mod does recycle GLADOS’ AI cores however, which means you’re forced to listen to the blue core spout cake memes again.  The mod is mercifully free of rehashed lines from the original game however, so you can thank the team for that.

Despite the simplicity of the whole thing, I really enjoyed my short time with Portal Memories, even when I was repeatedly plunging to my death in a certain level. It’s attractive, has a nice core premise and an undeniably satisfying progression structure.  I am more excited about the mod’s second installment however, when they will not only be implementing more challenging chambers but also introducing the Portal 2 theme of the mod, which is designed as a bridging device between the two games.  8/10.

The mod is ~100mb and can be found here.

As good as the mod looks, it's the Portal 2 inspired areas which are most impressive.