Mark Plays ‘Portal 2’: Chapter 7 – The Reunion

In the seventh chapter of Portal 2, Chell is guided by the recordings of Cave Johnson towards an escape and a discovery about the source of all her troubles. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to play Portal 2.

Chapter Seven: The Reunion

You know, I’m trying to find something to complain about other than the fact that this game is really hard, and I can’t come up with anything. And that’s not even a valid complaint in my terms, you know? Well, I suppose a game can be too hard to beat, and that can be frustrating. I spent over two hours on this chapter, but I can’t deny that it’s just satisfying. I LEARNED SO MUCH ABOUT APERTURE SCIENCES AND GLaDOS IN THE PROCESS OH MY GOD.


I got to TWO MORE gels in this chapter: that red Acceleration Gel (I don’t know if that is the official name) and the Make Portals Anywhere Gel (which is certainly not the official name). THERE’S NEW SHIT ALL THE TIME. I seriously expected Portal 2 to just be a bigger version of the first game. I mean, it is, but there are so many new elements to gameplay! The gels honestly just take this game into another stratosphere of awesome. We’re talking astral plane goodness here. Pretty sure Snape is gonna appear and he’ll marry POTaDOS, and all will be well. They do make the game harder because this is not simply a matter of throwing portals around. You’ve got to manually evolve the landscape around you before you can even deal with portals a lot of the time. It’s almost like you’re constructing the puzzle as you’re going, and that sense of creation is brilliantly pleasing. There really is nothing like this that I have ever played, so I’m ecstatic that this is the first game that I chose for Mark Plays.


Cave Johnson’s commentary, provided through the pre-recorded messages, becomes increasingly less funny and HORRIFYINGLY DISTURBING as time goes on. You can tell that he’s disappointed with the loss of money on Aperture Science’s part, and his messages become so haggard and angry over a short span of time. By the time you get to his final ones, he’s completely gone over to pure fury.

Oh, and then he bases GLaDOS on CAROLINE. Oh god, so I can refer to GLaDOS with she/her pronouns, can’t I? THIS STORY. SO GOOD.

I’m not sure I caught on to the entire story, but it sounded like Aperture branched out to AI in a last-ditch effort to make more money. Johnson mentions they should have invested in AI technology years before. And suddenly, GLaDOS and Caroline are not only linked intrinsically, THEIR CHARACTERIZATION MAKES SO MUCH SENSE. Oh my god, I can’t believe this. GLaDOS’s personality was based on Caroline. SWEET MOTHER OF BABY SEALS.


Seriously, the music direction on this game is just otherworldly. It’s never distracting. It fits every level, and as you move through the history of Aperture, the music changes with you. I can’t get over how lovely this is.


That sense of moving through history – the most fascinating aspect of chapter seven – is represented best in the design of the chambers. As you progress through each puzzle, you can see that Aperture was losing money. The rooms become sloppier. There’s less elegance. This isn’t just an issue of decay; they were originally designed to look less pretty. Towards the end of the chapter, many of the puzzles ascend into the ceiling and the pipes, and the in-game design is dark and cold. While this game may not have the detail of something like Skyrim, it’s still constructed extremely well.


I know I’m repeating myself now, but the true gem in chapter seven is the progression through time. While I suspect there’s a real reason why I had to connect all those gels together and get the pumps going, I admit I was far more fascinated with the chance to experience the history of Aperture Sciences. When the story of a game is inherently necessary in order to play that game, I am really, really happy. Honestly, that’s why I had so much fun with Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. Your story matters, even more so in New Vegas. What you do has a reason and a motivation, and it affects where you end up. That’s not to say this is an open-ended game. You’re still progressing in a linear fashion, and I don’t think Portal 2 is a game with multiple endings. But this honestly feels like I’m playing a book, and that’s a rad sensation.

Also, it bears repeating: GLaDOS WAS BASED ON CAROLINE OH MY GOD.


“Frankly, you ought to be paying us.”

I see your attempt to make money. I SEE IT.

The entire bit about lemons is really funny at first, and then SUPER DISTURBING.

A painting of Cave Johnson and (I think) Caroline in some rather dapper outfits.

Aw, look at them! So dignified.

A very retro-esque Aperture logo in dark orange.

Seriously, bless the designers for coming up with this shit.

A screenshot of a complex chamber with lots of platforms over acid water. Chell is standing just behind a blue portal in the floor.

Hands down, one of my favorite chambers in the entire game. I’m biased, as I totally figured this one out with only two small mistakes, but it was such a blast to use the blue and red gels to create this complex system to launch yourself at the exit. I LOVE THE GELS.

A screenshot of a sign on the wall that reads, “Thank you for not loitering longer than 20 minutes.”


(I loitered for like five seconds.)

A screenshot of the ceiling of a chamber covered in metallic silver goo. There’s a blue portal in the center of it.


A screenshot of a painting of an older Cave Johnson. He looks VERY serious.

I kept being thrown off by these paintings because I expected them to look like J.K. Simmons.

A screenshot of a long chamber with red Acceleration Gel along the floor, leading up to a strip on the wall with grey portal gel, topped with a square of blue Repulsion Gel.

This chamber took a few tries to get the order of portals/gel right, but was also ridiculously satisfying to complete.

A sign on the wall says, “KNOW YOUR PARADOXES. In the event of a rogue AI: 1) Stand still. 2) Remain calm. 3) Scream: “THIS STATEMENT IS FALSE! NEW MISSION: REFUSE THIS MISSION. DOES A SET OF ALL SETS CONTAIN ITSELF?”

Is this the best sign or THE BEST SIGN?

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