The video game PORTAL is best known for its dark humour and in your face puzzles. This combination of gallows humour and problem solving has made it one of the key touchstones in modern geek culture. So anyone trying to convert that game into a board game was always going to have steep challenge.
PORTAL: THE UNCOOPERATIVE CAKE ACQUISITION GAME solves this issue by emulating the spirit of the videogame, but not the content. The board game is set sometime before the first PORTAL video game, and you sort of take the role of the crazy Artificial Intelligence GLADOS as you perform lethal experiments on lab volunteers.
The set up for the game is this; there are three ‘tracks’ of experimental rooms. The rooms at one end of the board are constantly being destroyed and they are replenished at the other end. Each player picks a team, and the person who has the most volunteers in a room when it is destroyed wins the awards in that room. This is usually more volunteers, but it can be cake. Whom ever has the most cake when any player loses all their volunteers, wins. Event cards are also drawn each turn, which can adjust the rules of the game.
Oh, and to cap it all off, there’s a companion cube, which is so adorable it distracts your volunteers and a roaming sentry turret which only wants to help you. With bullets. Broadly, this is a fast moving puzzle game that lets you screw over your friends in the nicest possible way. For cake.
The games contents are also pretty neat. The actual playing pieces are solidly designed, look like they belong in the video game and are nice to look at. The ‘Cake’ pieces look good enough to eat, but don’t play the game with actual cake or you’ll make yourself ill; cake happens a lot in this game. The board pieces are interlocking hexes, and though they could do with being thicker, they work fairly well for what they are.
Overall, PORTAL: THE UNCOOPERATIVE CAKE ACQUISITION GAME would be a fun game without the PORTAL theme. But it’s so much more fun because of it, and we are glad to learn that the old tradition of turning video games into board games is still alive.
PORTAL: THE UNCOOPERATIVE CAKE ACQUISITION GAME / PUBLISHER: CRYPTOZOIC ENTERTAINMENT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW