Best Adventure of 2011: Portal 2
It may not have an inventory or slider puzzles on locked doors, but there’s no doubt in our minds that Portal 2 is not only a true (if entirely unprecedented) adventure game, it’s one of the best ever made. It values exploration and critical thinking, features hysterical writing, memorable characters and mind-bending puzzles, and despite holding a gun, the only things you shoot down are the very laws of physics. As adventure gamers we adore experiences that tickle our brains and our funny bones at the same time, and it’s hard to think of any game in recent memory that has done both quite so well. Every part of the game is polished to near perfection, and this year nothing can touch Portal 2 for sheer, unadulterated greatness.
The original Portal paved the way in 2007, catching nearly everyone off-guard with its brilliant design and pacing, but the sequel expands on the success of its predecessor in every way. It’s funnier, lengthier, and significantly more complex. New characters add even more rich personalities and unforgettable lines, while old characters are taken in surprising new directions. The story expands on the simple escape premise in the first game, fleshing out the equal-parts hilarious and mysterious lore of Aperture Science. The addition of tractor beams, refracting lasers, and gels that change the properties of surfaces exponentially increases the number of puzzle possibilities without ever feeling overwhelming. And the cooperative mode sends two players into an entirely new set of test chambers for some of the most mind-bending and ultimately satisfying puzzles in years. There were some truly impressive games to consider this year, but none as special as Portal 2, earning it this year’s ultimate Aggie Award as our Best Adventure of 2011.
Runners-Up: L.A. Noire, The Book of Unwritten Tales, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, Stacking
Readers’ Choice: The Book of Unwritten Tales
Long live the old-school adventure! In the face of fierce opposition from two AAA titles with budgets that must surely make KING Art weep, The Book of Unwritten Tales still became the narrow reader choice for best adventure of 2011, with Jane Jensen’s Gray Matter nipping at its heels. Diversity is a beautiful thing, and this result shows that both tradition and innovation are equally treasured in our adventures.
Runners-Up: Gray Matter, L.A. Noire, Portal 2, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
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That concludes the 2011 Aggie Awards! Still to come, a few administrative notes and a complete eligible game list, along with other assorted fine print. Think we got our choices right or wrong? Agree or disagree with your fellow gamers? Feedback is always welcome in the comments below! Thanks for reading and voting, and we’ll see you all again next year.