So, the cake wasn’t a lie after all.
I’ve known about the existence of the Portal board game for a long time, but yesterday I was finally able to play it. It had everything one could ever want from the famous Valve video game: test subjects, GLaDOS, a turret, Ratman and Wheatley cards, portal guns and portals, and of course cake.
I would say it took us a good half an hour at least to get into the flow of the game. Even though each turn had only four steps – deploy, move, activate and recycle – additional rules were added quite often with the presence of character cards, or when the Companion Cube or Turret were in play.
The aim of the game is to have the most pieces of cake by the time another player’s test subjects are all incinerated. This is really difficult to do as the board is constantly changing and moving like a conveyor belt, and like I said above, the rules are often being changed too. It is also really hard to keep hold of your cake, as it naturally moves towards the incinerator as the pieces of the board are activated and recycled to the back of the test chambers.
One game lasted about an hour in the end, though it easily could have gone on for much, much longer as the friends I were playing with were evenly matched with me in terms of skill and strategy! And it very much is a game built on strategy – you’ve got to really plan ahead, and there’s very little in the game that is down to luck, so that can’t be used as an excuse.
Overall, fans of the original video game will find the board game adaptation very aesthetic, especially with the slices of cake, Turret and Companion Cube models. Even for those who aren’t familiar with the story, this is still a great strategy game to play with friends – just be careful not to incinerate your friendship.