First Person To Say ‘Portal Rip-Off’ Will Be Shot

Screenshots aren't always the best way to promote a game, eh?

Though it is, and consciously so. But in an interesting way. As is often brought up in discussions about Portal, the aspect of it we ultimately spent all those hours jaffing off excitably about was its characterisation, its narrative, its voice-work – but rarely its portals. It’s telling that Epsilon‘s one-man creator EON started work on the game before Portal was released, but following its announcement – i.e. during that period when we did all expect the puzzles to be the game’s finest element. It starts with the same basic space-rift navigation concept, but then ploughs much, much further.

Even the setting’s a whole lot more serious about this science business than Valve’s mini adventure:

“In 2008, the largest particle accelerator ever created, the LHC at CERN’s particle physics lab in Switzerland, was activated for the first time. The research obtained from this experiment has revolutionized the way we think about science. Un-answered questions that have puzzled man since the dawn of humanity are finally being answered. Are there extra dimensions? What is dark matter? Is time travel possible? Epsilon Experimental Sciences Research Facility aims to discover the potential of this whole new world of science, and you have been appointed as the primary test participant.”

So, my presumptive sneer turned within minutes into the furrowed brow of intense concentration, as I plunged into increasingly complex challenges of my spatial awareness. Alongside – as in simultaneous to, not alternately – the portalling is time-freezing, time-reversal, gravitational inversion, black holes and, well, generally enough concentrated maths in action to make me need a lie a down after each level. It’s sometimes brutal, in an entirely positive sense.

The question has oft been asked: what more can a Portal 2 do with the concept? Going on this, the answer is obvious – give the Portal gun a few more time and space tricks.

Play Epsilon here.

(Thanks to Mike C for the tip-off.)


  1. Ging says:

    The game is entertaining, with some truly devious gameplay mechanics that don’t make too much sense at first – I really like how the time-reversal works in some of the puzzles (just remember that you can in fact reverse time multiple times if need be!)

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  2. Vivian says:

    portal rip-off

  3. Verdugo says:

    *shoots Vivian*

    Yeah, I played that. Very interesting game…

  4. FredrikFtw says:

    Portal rip-off.


  5. brog says:

    as usual.

  6. Lu-Tze says:

    Braid ripoff ¬_¬
    Yeah I went there.

  7. Ginger Yellow says:

    I hate to be a pedant (OK, that’s bollocks, I love it) but research obtained from the LHC hasn’t revolutionised the way we think about science. It may well do in a couple of years time, but it’s only just been switched on and it won’t be running at full power until much later this year. We won’t see actual published research until 2009. I’m deeply excited about the possible results from the LHC, but science was just as revolutionised last year or the year before as it is now.

    Also, as far as I know the LHC will have nothing to say about dark matter or time travel. Extra dimensions, yes.

  8. brog says:

    finished! not hard but sometimes fun.

  9. Rogue says:

    Narbarcular Drop ripoff!

  10. phuzz says:

    why is rps trying to break my tiny little mind today? :(

  11. Geoff says:

    Rogue wins. Ginger Yellow misses the part where it’s fiction and a game.

  12. Lucky Main Street says:

    Ginger Yellow, the LHC is expected to yield insight into dark matter, and any results in regards to extra dimensions could also potentially be applied to time travel. Although I personally think that’s all poppy-cock.

  13. DuBBle says:

    I found that Narbacular Drop was another cheap Portal rip-off

  14. Rogue says:

    I found Narbarcular Drop was a rip-off of Prey, which was a rip-off of Doom, which was a rip-off of my ideal lifestyle, kicking ass and chewing bubblegum!

    Moving swiftly on, Epsilon is far better than Flash Portal, if only because the slick presentation, fancy graphics and the use of the phrase “resonance cascade” hit my weak spot for massive damage. >_<

  15. eyemessiah says:

    Wow – first game I’ve finished in years!

  16. LionsPhil says:

    Ahem. Noobfags: ITYM “Prey rip-off”.

    I was developing a proper portal engine, inspired by Usenet postings about the original Prey, when Portal was announced. Needless to say, I am a little bitter that everyone is now wrapping their fanboy gums around Valve’s plumbing every time someone does a cheap render-to-texture hack. That’s not a portal engine. It’s still got BSP-based static visibility. Come back when you can fold, spindle, and mutilate the whole world in real time.

    (Portal was good, but that’s because of it’s characterisation, not its tech. In their defence, the maths to do this stuff properly makes everyday perspective projections seem trivial, and the guy who was doing it for the original Prey died from an asthma attack. :( )

  17. PleasingFungus says:

    That was fairly fun. I was amused at the ending.

  18. Fat Zombie says:


    You still working on that, then? Because your engine does sound much more awesome. That’s assuming you weren’t working on exactly the same kind of thing as Valve/Narbacular Drop, of course.

    EDIT: Ah, from the link in your name. Neat. Is it still in progress?

  19. Rogue says:

    “Ahem. Noobfags: ITYM “Prey rip-off”.”
    I got there eventually. :(

  20. LionsPhil says:

    @FatZombie: On occasion. Unfortunately, I’m now neck-deep in an (unrelated) PhD, and the other devs are also busy with life.

    One of the big problems is that a proper portal engine means that there is no unambiguous global co-ordinate system, because you can have overlapping space. This then means that you find yourself having to write everything from scratch. Maybe by the time DNF is released, we’ll have caught up with the Quake engine. ;) I would still like to get a proper tech demo/playground out there, because the game we made for the assignment doesn’t show off the dynamic nature of it all.

  21. The Shed says:

    The ghost room thing is genius, if insanely confusing at first. Nice little game.

    EDIT: Theres some aggro bugs in there as well. I found portals often giving up on their duty to teleport things. Stuff like that. Still a good game.

  22. Vivian says:

    nice bit of bargain basement bristol goon bass at the end

  23. Tricky says:

    I actually liked the depth of Epsilon’s puzzles much more than when I played Portal the second time through. Did anybody else?

    Also, that quote about mathematics and reality was AWESOME.

  24. Noc says:

    I was actually a little disappointed in the time-rewinding. You didn’t really use it cleverly to SOLVE puzzles, you just grabbed orbs one at a time. I was hoping for something more like Chronotron: were the ball would go through a portal and come out at a different TIME, which would open up a path that let the ball get to the entrance portal in the first place.

    Still, it’s a solid puzzle game with more than it’s share of polish. I approve.

  25. Sucram says:

    From 3D Realms To Continue “Portal Race”:
    What about escalation!

    You bring a portal in space, he brings a portal in time and space.

    and I claim my 5 bucks.

  26. Andrew Doull says:

    LionsPhil: As far as I am aware, the Dungeon Siege game engine does something like this… certainly it supports designing its content in a non-Euclidean fashion (White paper).

  27. MindBrain says:

    Shouldn’t the time reverse uncollect the tokens too ?

  28. LionsPhil says:

    @Andrew: Looks like an interesting read, cheers. Their “SiegePos” is exactly the kind of thing you need, but (as they say), they had some niceties in only having to map/connect things on a 2D plane.

  29. BOBSAGET says:

    Its LIKE portal but not a rip off

  30. Ci2e says:

    Okay just how the hell do you get past level 5c?

    There’s no way to move the black holes and well that’s my main problem. I can’t seem to find a way to collect the last orb. I think maybe you have to give the ball just enough momentum to get down the path but not too much where it drops through the black hole…

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