Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Portal: Prelude

Go To

Portal: Prelude is an unofficial Game Mod/prequel to Portal. The game takes place before GLaDOS was activated, when tests were monitored by real Aperture Science employees. The game is notable for being significantly more difficult than the original. It was developed by a team of three in 2008, just one year after Portal and three years before Portal 2.

It can be downloaded for free here. Its official website can be found here.


This game includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Affably Evil: The human overseers are rather chatty and don't act very evil, but they don't seem to mind how ridiculously lethal their tests are. One of them even calls out the other for not treating Abby like a human.
    • Averted with Erik, who shows signs of being sadistic and enjoying the sight of test subjects dying. (On the other hand, he's also the happiest of the bunch when you reach the final chambers and, eventually, complete them...)
  • Ambiguous Ending: Did Abby die? Who was the masked scientist dragging her outside? One theory is that the scientist was Doug Rattmann, the only survivor of GlaDOS' attack, though the model used during that scene is female, the only female in the game outside of Abby.
  • Battle Theme Music: "Believe" by The Chemical Brothers is used for the Final Boss. According to the credits, GLaDOS loves this song more than cake.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Mostly averted: the English is almost always correct despite the creators being French and not very fluent in (spoken) English. A few awkward or grammatically incorrect lines do slip through, though, such as "Welcome to the test chamber number twelve" and "That was close, doesn't it?"
  • Advertisement:
  • Bizarrchitecture: The first level that introduces gravity-changing panels is set up in a test chamber where everything is turned in random directions.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: There really is a cake, but you never get to eat it.
  • The Cameo:
    • The G-Man can be seen in several places, but is usually rather hidden (exceptions including him standing very close to a window in the upside-down chamber and The Stinger. He's also mentioned by one of the scientists by description.
    • Domo also appears as a drawing on a whiteboard and in the intro.
  • Continuity Nod: The game draws from a lot of continuity from Portal lore, including:
    • It's mentioned that it's bring-your-daughter-to work-day.
    • GLaDOS floods the Enrichment Center in neurotoxin, before having a morality core installed.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The first time anyone ever completes the lethal test course just so happens to be the day that GLaDOS is turned on.
  • Darker and Edgier: At the end, GLaDOS kills everyone in the computer AI chamber right in front of you.
  • Downer Ending: After you install the morality core, you realize that it's too late and GLaDOS kills everyone with neurotoxin.
  • Doomed by Canon: You can not prevent GLaDOS from filling the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin and killing everybody in it, even after you place the Morality Core.
  • Dull Surprise: Thanks to the computerized voices, there are many hilarious moments of this.
  • Easter Egg:
    • An early test chamber has a secret passage leading to a ''Super Mario''-style Warp Room, complete with authentic textures and music. They let you shortcut to the start of the fourth, fifth and sixth levels of the game.
    • Using noclip to go out of the map in Test Chamber 11 and enter a green square reveals the "Badger Badger Badger" web animation.
  • Evil Laugh: Some of the scientists have some really terrifying ones for no particular reason.
  • Fan Sequel: Inverted, in that it's a prequel.
  • Final Boss: GLaDOS. Relatively uncommon for mods.
  • Foreshadowing: During your trek through the personnel areas of Aperture Science, you can see numerous deactivated Rocket Turrets mounted on the walls and ceiling, hinting that they'll be activated later and become obstacles/enemies.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The G-Man is likely this, although it's not confirmed.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Placing the morality core on GLaDOS completes the game, but it doesn't really stop her in any way. In fact, she (possibly) kills you right after that.
  • Irony: Why is it that the humans' tests are so much more lethal than the ones made by the murderous AI?
  • Lightning Reveal: The G-Man appears in the parking lot's tollbooth this way, during The Stinger.
  • Mad Scientist: Erik gives off these vibes. He designed several of the more dangerous chambers, and is perversely proud of their high body count.
  • Mood Whiplash: At first, it has the atmosphere of Portal 1 until it takes a shift in tone near the end.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: One of the scientists, Erik, likes to see test subjects die. According to a few other scientists, some of the test chamber hazards were designed by him.
  • Nintendo Hard:"CAUTION: This game uses advanced portaling techniques and may not be suitable for EVERYONE. Be prepared to think with portals" You have been warned.
    • Executed in a strange fashion, though. The game is, indeed, very difficult, but more so from an action perspective. Most of the puzzles (except for a few) are only somewhat more complex than Portal's, but the solutions are much more difficult to execute. (And let's not even talk about the advanced chambers...)
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • Test Chamber 06 requires you to put a cube on a button under a Descending Ceiling. If you allow the ceiling to go all the way down (with you not under it), it does not activate the button; instead, your test supervisor says that the rules prevent him from giving you another try, and end the test.
    • A similar game over occurs in Test Chamber 08; if you let the ceilings descend under you to the point of no return, Erik tells you that he always wanted to kill you, and activates the disintegrator.
    • The last example occurs in Test Chamber 16 (right after the behind-the-scenes sections). Go inside the button room, throw the cube into the main room, and put both portals in the button room. The current supervisor Peter points out your stupidity, and the game fades to black.
  • Noob Bridge: Even if you have played Portal, there are a lot of places you'll probably bet stuck if you don't know what to do. One early puzzle requires to you push forward, crouch, and jump while in midair to clear the ledge.
    • The developers mention that the orange-only portal gun serves the same purpose, establishing the difficulty of the mod off the bat and separating the skilled players from the "basic" players.
  • Off the Rails: You get to go behind the scenes after Test Chamber 15 catches on fire.
  • Room Fullof Crazy: Several "raatman dens" exist in the game, some more hidden than others, using identical scribbled ramblings and tributes to the Companion Cube from the original game. Though this predates when "the" Rattmann began hiding, as GLAaDOS is yet to be turned on, the overseers mention another test subject had gone crazy and had been hiding about the facility in a similar fashion.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Around the middle of the test course, Erik stops observing your progress out of frustration that you didn't die, and waits until the 17th chamber to return.
  • Silent Protagonist: Abby
  • The Stinger: As a nighttime storm rages, someone, presumably Abby as she grunts with a female voice, slowly walks up to the Aperture parking lot exit booth seen in the original Portal ending, before collapsing to the ground. As her vision fades in and out, the lightning flashes to show G-Man standing in the booth...
  • Stock Footage: Although some of GLaDOS's lines are original, the ones during the fight were taken from Portal.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Abby is based on Chell's model.
  • Synthetic Voice Actor: Ironically, in the era before testing was done by a computer, the humans are voiced by robots.
    • While the mod was in development, it was stated that it was an alternative to the scientists being recorded by the game developers, and therefore, since the game developers are French, everyone having French accents.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • In the final cutscene, a scientist is waving his arms around frantically in front of GLaDOS, practically begging to be shot by a deadly laser.
    • Also, the scientists who decided it was a good idea to activate GLaDOS before the morality core was ready.
  • Warp Zone: One can be accessed by crawling through a light in Test Chamber 09. Its graphics are taken straight from Super Mario Bros.
  • Waxing Lyrical: GLaDOS speaks the opening lines of "Still Alive" when she hears it on the radio.