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Portal Series




Summary


The Portal series is one of the most popular puzzle games in existence. It is set in a dystopian society where players are required to solve puzzles using the portals to get past different obstacles, change objects, and get through dangerous environments to beat the game. The gameplay is great, but it might be too hard for younger kids to fully understand and enjoy. It is however a great game for parents to get involved in either by helping on the sidelines or joining in themselves! Due to the complexity of the puzzles, Portal would be best played from ages 10+ on their own, or, if they had assistance from someone older, then the game could be played by younger children 7+.



The original Portal game can only be played solo as can Portal 2. However, Portal 2 introduced coop mode which is famously more fun. The game is available on PC, PS3, Nintendo Switch and Xbox 360. Each game length runs anywhere from 4 hours to 20 hours depending on whether you want to explore every nook and cranny! As the game goes on, players meet new obstacles making it all the more difficult as you go along. This makes the puzzles harder and requires creative thinking to solve them.



Gameplay


This game is simply amazing. It is essentially a compilation of puzzles and challenges where each level gets harder and harder. You have a portal gun that shoots two areas to create a portal and when you walk through one, you appear on the other side. This is the essence of the puzzles, but it is much more complicated than it sounds! How about laser firing at you… or how about spiked walls closing in on you? This game really keeps you on your toes and tests your patience. The main protagonist of the game is the evil AI and they are truly the star of the show. They make hilarious comments during your playthrough as you go and it is just witty and truly keeps you entertained.



You can play Portal in single-player mode, however, the game shines in Portal 2's coop mode. In coop mode, you can either play the standard story mode or go into challenger mode to really heat things up. As well as, you can play with your friends or others online. While you work together, you can also cause mischief by changing the end portal at the last minute ‘accidentally’ flying your partner off the edge of the map or right into the laser! Whoops! These elements add fun and cheekiness to be enjoyed by anyone who plays. The best part is the Portal 2 solo player mode continues the story of Portal (although you don't really need to have played the previous game) and the Portal 2 coop mode is a different story which continues on from the solo mode of Portal 2. This gives you so many different levels maps and story lines to enjoy!



Education


The Portal series is all about solving puzzles, so there is a high element of strategic thinking and problem-solving throughout the gameplay. Honestly, some of these levels had us scratching our heads for a while! It's not as easy as it sounds! The game forces players to think carefully, analyze their surroundings, and come up with creative ways to solve puzzles and get past obstacles.



The games also make the players consider spatial awareness and consider physics-based problems. For example, you might need to send your coop partner flying to the other side of the map to complete the level! But you go through the portal and fall short. If only there was some way to fly through the portal faster… maybe jumping off the big platform and using gravity to do the work for you will work! By the end of the game, players get better at spatial awareness, solving physics-based problems, and planning ahead.



Violence/ Adult Themes


There is low-level violence throughout the game, and we don’t consider this to be much of a concern. The characters can be harmed by lasers or turrets but there is not much damage to be done and it is certainly not gruesome. Even though the game doesn't have any explicit content, there is a bit of mild language and violence. There is some use of mild mature language such as ‘Damn’ and ‘Hell’, however, these words are not used that often throughout the game. While there are features of mild violence and adult themes, it is often more associated with being comical to add to the comedy side of the game rather than to be intimidating or upsetting.



Monetization


There is a one-off purchase of around $15 for each game then you are ready to go! While there is no in-game currency to be earned, there are cosmetic collectibles that can only be purchased by paying with real-life money. A few cosmetics can be earned throughout the game, but not many. These cosmetics don't have any benefit to the gameplay and are simply there to add a bit of personal flare to the game if you like.



Safety


If your child is playing the original Portal or Portal 2 single-player mode, there are no concerns with safety. However, if they are playing coop mode in Portal 2, they have the option to play with their friends or online randoms. The option to play with random players online comes with its risks and there is also in-game voice chat already available so they can talk to each other. Voice chat can be disabled in the settings menu, but given that this is a puzzle-solving game communication is key so it can make gameplay a lot more difficult but it would still be possible to play. Also, as Portal 2 is an older game, when we tried to search online for a game we waited for quite a while and did not find anyone. Generally, Portal 2 is played with friends rather than strangers. so you can enjoy the chaos together.



Tips and Tricks


Portal is essentially made up of individual levels in the story mode. Each level can take anywhere between 5 minutes to 30 minutes depending on how stuck you get! After each level, you are safe to leave the game as it will save your progress. Is your child really struggling? You can go back and play levels you have already done as well to work on those thinking powers!





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