Also On: PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: GameCoder Studios
I’ve always known that a big part of what made Portal 2 (and, to a lesser extent, the first Portal) special was the writing. Thanks to Attractio, however, I can now state with some degree of confidence that it was the writing (and the voice acting, and the sense of humour) that elevated Portal 2 from being “excellent” to “OMG BEST GAME EVER”.
Or, to make my feelings a little more plain: Attractio is what happens when you strip Portal of everything that made it great.
Sure, that means Attractio still has some half-decent puzzles. You get to play around with gravity and boxes and whatnot, and if you were to look solely at the gameplay and squint your eyes just so, you might even think the two games were kind of similar.
Of course, that squinting is pretty important, because that’s the only way you might not see how ugly this game is. I know that Attractio takes place in a game show on a post-apocalyptic prison planet (or something like that — for reasons I’ll get to in a second, I wasn’t paying super-close attention), but that doesn’t explain why everything here is such a hideous colour. Or why the character models all look like PS2 refugees. Or why everything looks ever-so-slightly out of focus — not so much that it’s obvious at all times, but just enough that it’s guaranteed to bug you throughout your time with it.
The problem with Attractio’s graphics, however, are minor compared to the fact that the game features absolutely atrocious writing and even worse voice acting. The announcer shouts all his lines in a tone that seems tailor-made to make players hit the mute button, while the game’s few stabs at GLaDOS-style insults just come off as jerky rather than fun. There’s no wit, no sense of humor, no intelligence: just bad writing coming at you via the most obnoxiously smarmy narrator imaginable.
Obviously, it’s unfair to penalize Attractio too much for not meeting the insanely high standards set by one of the greatest games of all time. Few games meet that standard, which is why Portal 2 is so highly esteemed. It’s a little tougher to excuse the shoddy graphics, since even if you don’t go into Attractio expecting it to look like the best thing ever, it doesn’t seem unfair to ask that it not be an eyesore. I suppose, though, that if you play Attractio with the volume turned way down on a less-than-amazing TV with absolutely no expectations of anything above mediocrity, it has some solid enough puzzles that it might be somewhat worth your time.