Portal was something of an unexpected hit. It was first released as a mini game in a bundle pack of Half Life 2, its episodic expansions, and the multiplayer game Team Fortress 2 (which is like Pixar in a rainbow chainsaw factory). This collection was known as the Orange Box. However, since the long anticipated second episodic expansion of Half Life 2 was on the Orange Box, Portal flew under the radar for many at first. Sure, it was displayed at expos and across the web, but it was still something of a mystery. When the Orange Box came out, people played Half Life 2 Episode 2, and it was good. People played Team Fortress 2, and it was also good. People played Portal, and that’s when things went crazy. It was a first person puzzle game with little whimsical moments here and there, and the only game the critic Yahtzee Crowshaw of The Escapist has given a perfect review (warning: link contains strong language). Throughout the game, the artificial intelligence GLaDOS (pictured right) puts the heroine through a number of perilous tests all for a reward of cake. When the cake turns out to be a lie, as a line of graffiti from a previous (and most likely dead) test subject dictates, the internet exploded with glee. It was on t shirts, webcomics joked about it, and it came to define this new wonder from Gabe Newell’s magic workshop. In response to the success of Portal, Valve made Portal 2. It continued the adventures of the heroine Chell as she is thrown into a second round of more puzzles and more great one liners to endure with her wits.
Chell, despite being surrounded by bossy characters quipping cruel and hilarious lines, is silent. The reason for this silence is in no way similar to Gordon Freeman’s silence and is in many ways the opposite of his silence. She does not speak because she chooses to be silent. I mentioned we the gamers can put our own influence on what we want Gordon Freeman to be. Well, all the characters try to do this to Chell, but in being silent she thwarts their attempts at doing so. GLaDOS constantly accuses her of being a crazy killer among other things who is out to stop the beauty of lethal science. It is perfectly clear whenever GLaDOS speaks that none of her many accusations are true. There is even a point where GLaDOS accuses Chell of being a “blabbermouth” and then later calls her a “crazed mute lunatic.” By this point, GLaDOS has tried to kill her countless times. Wheatley, a new character in Portal 2, believes Chell is suffering from brain damage. GLaDOS later reveals that Wheatley is the product of the greatest minds of a generation to create the biggest moron in existence. Another character named Rick (a.k.a. the Adventure Sphere) constantly flirts with Chell in the few moments he is in the story in a manner that is both unsuccessful and borderline misogynistic. He regards Chell as a sort of damsel in distress and fails to consider he’s just a robotic eye incapable of doing anything he boasts.
Chell, having a simple goal of escaping the facility and the know-how needed to reach that goal, wants no part in the lunacy of those around her. She expresses a sort of solidarity by ignoring their ridiculous and antagonizing comments. It says something about the threshold of what she is willing to face to survive. Escaping the captivity of GLaDOS, Wheatley, and Aperture Science is Chell’s sole motivation. If Chell were to talk back to these characters, to succumb to their antics, it would imply Chell has given into captivity and would accept the abounding idiocy.