Freebie Friday: Portal Stories: Mel

portal-stories-train-station

Freebie Friday is a semi-regular news feature where we talk about a freeware, just free or open source game. It can be anything from a throwaway web game to a free-to-play RPG or mobile puzzle game. This time: Portal Stories: Mel.

portal-stories-pano3

It’s hard to argue that PC gaming’s greatest strength is anything other than the ability for us to install and play modifications for so many games. From brand new games like GTA V to classics like Skyrim, there’s a good chance mods are the foundation for the longevity of many titles. Some games are much friendlier for modders than others, but none more so than Valve’s Source Engine based games like Portal 2. That’s where this Freebie Friday comes in.

Sometimes, a mod or total conversion comes along that not only extends the game it’s based on, but hits the same production values and atmosphere, becoming the sequel the original deserves. This is definitely the case with Portal Stories: Mel, which, story-wise is actually a prequel to both Portal games. The game features some top-notch narrative and voice acting, along with rock hard puzzles and some striking environments. Basically, it’s imbued with the raw spirit of the Portal series.

Portal Stories: Mel is a community made, free modification for Portal 2 based in the Portal universe. It tells the story of Mel, who meets a new personality core and faces an undiscovered threat to the Aperture facility.

Main Features:

  • 23 Puzzle and exploration filled maps
  • Custom Story and Dialogue
  • Custom Textures, Models and Animations
  • 70s Prototype Portal Gun
  • Free to Play (you must own Portal 2)

Coming in at around three hours of play time, it’s not the longest game in the world, but it’s the best darn value for money you can get… free and fun! From what I’ve played so far, the puzzles are pretty tough. If you find yourself getting stuck at any part of the game, the team behind Portal Stories have created playlist with a series of videos on YouTube with a helpful playthrough. As it’s a standalone game, it has its own page on the Steam store, and can be downloaded and updated like any other game. You don’t even need Portal 2 installed, just in your library.

My take

One of the reasons that the Half-Life and Portal games have been so close to people’s hearts is how the narrative unfolds. The way you’re first introduced to the secretive but vibrant Black Mesa Research Facility in Half-Life. How the mystery of what happened to Aperture Science in Portal. Valve spends a long time crafting worlds that you want to explore, and while their games continue to be remembered as some of the best in existence,  they always feel like they barely scratch the surface of what’s going on around you. This is why it’s so great to see when modders get it right with the work they do in their free time. The fact that mods like Portal Stories: Mel, MINERVA or Transmissions: Element 120 can achieve such high production values is a testament to the passion for the Half-Life universe these people have.

You can download Portal Stories: Mel on Steam as a standalone game for Windows, OS X or Linux as long as you own the essential Portal 2.

mm

About Dan Morse

From the Atari 2600 right through to bleeding fast PCs, Dan's played on them all. One thing that's never changed is an unwavering passion for video games. Twitter: @happydan | Steam: happydan | GOG: happydan