Portal: Companion Collection (Switch) Review
For a few years there in the 00s, Portal was kind of everywhere. Everyone was playing it, cosplaying as Chell, making their own Portal guns – and the memes – so many. Then Portal 2 comes along, has a fantastic co-op experience and then woosh – Portal disappears from the zeitgeist completely. The entire time the game comes and goes and misses Nintendo consoles, which was the style at the time.
Now in 2022, we’re in a place where a late 00s PC game can come to the Switch, and no one really bats an eyelid—seeing the Valve logo on a Nintendo console, though, is kind of huge.
Portal and Portal 2 are some of the most masterful puzzle games this side of the millennium. When Portal was released as part of The Orange Box compilation, it was seen as a kind of short diversion from Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2. Instead, it has become its own thing, mostly due to the great gameplay and the fantastic storytelling. The Aperture Science facility is barren, but GLaDOS, the game’s antagonist, liven things up quickly. GLaDOS is a great character, and a bunch of rooms with puzzles in them wouldn’t be the same without her inclusion.
Playing Portal sounds simple enough, you’ve got a Portal gun, and you can create two different ends to the portal, but only on some surfaces. You’ll need to use the portals to drop into areas you can’t physically get into, use the gun to move Companion Cubes around to trigger switches and more. It starts off easy, but you’ll soon wrack your noodle as the difficulty and logic of the puzzles start to get harder and harder. The game will sometimes make you feel like an idiot, but eventually, when you start thinking in a way where gravity makes no sense – you’ll get it.
Portal 2 is back at Aperture Science, but some time after the first game. The game’s narrative triples in cast and depth with Stephen Merchant, a new creepy robot called Wheatley and J.K Simmons playing Aperture Sciences founder Cave Johnson – GLaDOS is also back. The game goes deeper into the lore around the company and the facility, and while it wasn’t missing in the first game, the addition narrative beefs up the second game’s package. Oh, and the voice of Nolan North is in the game, too, like most games of the era. The puzzles in Portal 2 have also been given some new mechanics, we’ve got lasers and tractor beams, companion cubes with prisms to redirect beams and more. You can now paint gel to make you move faster, bounce off surfaces or paint your own surface to place a portal on. All of these new tricks make for some compelling puzzles and battles.
Portal 2 isn’t just another single-player campaign; there’s a completely different cooperative campaign that isn’t shoehorned into the main game – something you don’t see that often anymore. Each player takes control of two new robots as they work their way through a series of tests, each with their own Portal Gun. The puzzles are little different thanks to this, and the game features a handy ping system that you can communicate with the other player to let them know what they need to do. The cooperative playing game can be played online, locally with multiple consoles or on one system using split-screen.
So how do the two games run on the Switch? The good news is – almost perfect. During gameplay, both games run at a full 60fps, both in a native resolution docked and even in portable. Something we’re seeing far less from ports, even from games of the same era. There are a few dips here and there, but nothing that gets in the way of you solving puzzles or enjoying the game.
The game also has full motion control support, and you can change every setting you want to with it to get it feeling right for you. The game’s chock a block with options as well, and something we don’t get to say very often, Achievements. However, they seem just to have copied the Xbox versions, complete with the Gamerscore points you would have earned on that system.
If you’ve got all this way into the review, you’ll wonder, what did they get wrong? And it’s almost possible to say nothing, except there is just one thing—load times. I had issues with the games taking multiple minutes to load, and so did a few others I asked on social media. Most people didn’t have this issue – you might, but give your Switch a reboot, and it seems to fix itself.
Portal Companion Collection is exactly what you want from a Switch version of anything. Two great timeless games that are almost flawlessly in a complete package with online, local multiplayer and even split screen. If you played this back in the day, it’s time to play it again. If you’ve never played these games, then the Switch port is among the best ways to experience them. I’m making a note here; “Huge success”
- Fantastic story and gameplay that hasn't aged a day
- A Switch port with almost perfect performance
- Online, local and splitscreen multiplayer
- Leaderboards, challenges and even achievements
- Nothing much really, can we get Half Life 2 now?