Portal: Prelude, as its name states it, is an unofficial prequel to the game Portal. Its story revolves around the pre-GlaDOS epoch, even before she was plugged in. At this time, test subjects were monitored by real Aperture Science employees, whose work was tedious, lengthy and repetitive. This is why they decided to build a great artificial intelligence that could both replace them in these difficult tasks, and also take responsibility for many other tasks within the complex and compete with Black Mesa's superiority. All employees of the Aperture Science complex are now eagerly awaiting GlaDOS. Maybe even a little too eagerly, as the upcoming events will tell... This game is totally free. It offers a bit more gameplay hours than the original Portal, with 8 chapters, 19 test chambers, 48 challenges, 6 advanced maps, a brand new storyline and more than 400 lines of english speech with dozens of subtitles translations.

Post feature Report article RSS Feed Portal: Prelude Preview

Make no mistake, after all the hype this mod is no lie.

Posted by stenchy on Oct 8th, 2008

It's been a year since Portal has been released and while there have been many levels and map packs created, the lore has remained largely untouched. There have been countless retellings of Gordan's alternative adventures, Barney and Professor Kleiner even. It was beginning to seem that maybe the game's both critical and commercial acclaim had rocketed the Portal canon into an elevated, sacred plane. Something no one would dare try to interpret in their own way—until now.

Portal: Prelude is the brainchild of French native Nicolas Grevet. Unhappy with the prospect of just releasing another map pack, Nicolas crafted a story around 19 test chambers set in the pre-GlaDOS days of Aperture Science. Put together in a span of only nine months, coupled with a rarely seen (from a mod, at least) shock-and-awe style of unveiling, Portal: Prelude has caught the attention of many people—for good reason. It is a fine example of the kind of quality tightly focused development with little to no resources can bring about. The product delivers a genuine, challenging experience that doesn't try and overextend itself.

Portal: Prelude ScreenshotsIt's like a hamster cage without the newspaper.

Prelude takes on all the hallmarks of the original game that inspired it. There's science to be done, delicious cake is promised and observers nonchalantly mock you as you make your way from chamber to chamber. During the course of the experiment, you will be introduced to a number of staff employed—seemingly by force—that keep Aperture Laboratories running. It's during the banter between the humans watching you behind frosty-paned glass that the mod reveals its only real flaw: the voice acting and writing.

Understandably, the French-speaking creators decided to go with English voice synthesizers instead of real voices. The results of this, while they may have worked for the robotic GlaDOS, seem out of place for your flesh-and-blood overseers. This is compounded by the fact that the actual dialogue is quite drab. After chatting with Nicolas, he confirmed that quite a lot was lost in the translations from French to English. A future update with real voices and some spruced up dialogue could add a lot of color to the story. As it stands now, the synthesized voices do little to convey emotion and most of the banter falls flat.

Portal: Prelude ScreenshotsAre you there?

If you're looking for a challenge, then Prelude should be your top choice. There's a few people out there who may exhibit some sort of natural portal wizardry. These people will have posted speedrun videos that will make you dizzy within the first week. The average gamer, the ones not used to thinking with portals outside of a couple months at best, will find this mod hard. Initial playthroughs with the ModDB staff had us a couple of failed attempts shy of thrashing about like some angry German kid. The difficulty starts off at an advanced level and ramps up from there. You can count on every test chamber to employ advanced techniques (multiple portal flings, timed portal shots, etc) and some new tricks/traps that haven't been seen before. For the less graceful, it's a combination of trial and error with some luck sprinkled on top that will see you through to the end.

Henley needs to think with portals more.

And oh boy, the end is worth it. Developers spent about 1/4 of their development time on that sequence alone and it shows. No spoilers here, but you'll find that it dovetails very nicely with original game. A delectable treat (cake?) for the fans that makes the hours of frustration and cursing all worth it. True masochists can even check out the advanced maps after they finished the game. Developers even added commentary to the levels which I recommend checking out (make sure to turn on subtitles if you don't speak French). Overall, there's very little this mod gets wrong. Everything from its development timeline, implementation and strategies for attracting media attention are shining examples. Make sure to add Portal: Prelude to your Steam catalogue when it releases here on ModDB on October 10th.

Portal: Prelude trailer

* UPDATE: Also another Portal mod, Chell's Legend, was announced today.

Post comment Comments
Mischa_Silden Oct 8 2008, 6:53am says:

Looking gooooood :P
And Henley needs to learn how to play portal :D

+4 votes     reply to comment
Henley Staff
Henley Oct 8 2008, 7:36am replied:

shsssss its all good babah!

0 votes   reply to comment
INtense! Staff
INtense! Oct 8 2008, 7:00am says:

Haha yeah, we've all had a crack at it and thou Henley looks like a doofus in the video teaser - this is significantly more harder than the original (plus we are rusty riiiight... its been a year!)

+2 votes   reply to comment
ammd Oct 8 2008, 7:12am says:

i want german subtitels

+1 vote     reply to comment
INtense! Staff
INtense! Oct 8 2008, 7:20am replied:

I believe they have organized quite a few translations

+1 vote   reply to comment
stenchy Author
stenchy Oct 8 2008, 7:25am replied:

First patch after release will support more languages I believe.

+1 vote   reply to comment
NykO18 Creator
NykO18 Oct 8 2008, 7:26am replied:

That's right.
But it won't make it for the initial release.

+1 vote   reply to comment
hushpuppy Oct 8 2008, 10:13am says:

Awsome cant wait for this :D Hope they release it via steam

+1 vote     reply to comment
BunnyJen Oct 8 2008, 10:19am says:

I don't think you look like a 'doofus' Henley...not that much anyway :P

+1 vote     reply to comment
Henley Staff
Henley Oct 8 2008, 10:30am replied:

oh please once you play the mod you will understand. Easy slow start how bout no here is a vanilla portal end game puzzle times 40 as the first room. Go on try it :P

+1 vote   reply to comment
BunnyJen Oct 8 2008, 2:19pm replied:


+1 vote     reply to comment
hushpuppy Oct 9 2008, 1:11pm replied:

Lol yeah it seems like there is alot of fresh puzzels in there, will be enjoying this one :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
AlexCrafter Oct 8 2008, 10:23am says:

Ha, this looks great. Cant wait.

+1 vote     reply to comment
EmotionalRobot Oct 8 2008, 11:36am says:

Great Writeup
Cant wait to try it...
It's been a long time since I dusted off the Ol' Portal.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Defur Oct 8 2008, 12:15pm says:

So why are they talking like robots?

+1 vote     reply to comment
TwistAndShout Oct 8 2008, 1:15pm says:

Can't wait for this. Hopefully you guys will replace the dialogue with real voices in the future.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Noesis_Interactive Oct 8 2008, 3:37pm says:


+1 vote     reply to comment
BadCoupon Oct 8 2008, 4:59pm says:

I just can't wait till this mod comes out. I don't care if there isn't actual people speaking English, it still looks good.

+1 vote     reply to comment
NullSoldier Oct 8 2008, 5:09pm says:

<Tim and Eric>Great job.</Tim and Eric>

The only thing I'm disappointed about are the voices. I think I might wait to play till English voice actors replace the robots for a true prelude experience. :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
MM-dudeman Oct 8 2008, 6:28pm says:

Release tomorrow! I'm very curious about how well these guys kept themselves to the original storyline, most people don't even know of it... The story of Cave Johnson and the history of Aperture science, its hilarious, but I won't spoil it. Supposedly the official Portal 2 will also be about the origin of Aperture.

As for the voices, this article suggests that the original voice of GLaDoS was a synthesyzer, it was actually a voice actor acting like a synthesized voice. :p

+1 vote     reply to comment
stenchy Author
stenchy Oct 8 2008, 7:37pm replied:

Oh I was aware they used a voice actor (same one as announcer for TF2) but I was just stating that the robotic voices didn't fit right.

0 votes   reply to comment
mtnbkr16 Oct 8 2008, 9:29pm says:

Released! Check Portalprelude.com!!

So far out of 31 votes it's got a 4.6 (5 star) overall rating on FilePlanet!!!! Downloading tonight!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Fddlrnthrf Oct 8 2008, 9:36pm says:

How do I contact these guys? I want to edit their dialogue and record some English voice-over!

+1 vote     reply to comment
mtnbkr16 Oct 8 2008, 9:41pm replied:

Maybe go to their forum?

I'm not sure what you're talking about though - on their FAQ is states that the voices in the story are English. Only the commentaries are in French.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Toblerone Oct 8 2008, 10:13pm says:

Ooo, released tomorrow?! Is that still happening?

Exciting :) Its looking like a cracking portal mod.

The Ren test maps were great, Portal - the flash version (but the real version) was excellent, so i'm really looking forward to this! :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Toblerone Oct 8 2008, 10:47pm says:

Oh its actually out now? sweet.

They should get it uploaded here pronto, fileplanets queue system is ****

+1 vote     reply to comment
killerloro Oct 9 2008, 12:51am says:


+1 vote     reply to comment
Fiasco Oct 9 2008, 4:09am says:

I suppose they have cut some deal with FilePlanet for the exclusive release a day early but you can get it here as a torrent:


+2 votes     reply to comment
umbinc Oct 9 2008, 12:09pm says:

Downloading... Can't wait to play it ^^

+1 vote     reply to comment
TAU! Oct 9 2008, 1:41pm says:

The DL messed up for me... it stopped at 710mb and it took me 3 hours to get there...

+1 vote     reply to comment
Arsenic43204 Oct 9 2008, 2:30pm says:

really good mod, puzzles are hard. Ending was awesome, but somewhat disapointing.

+1 vote     reply to comment
MortalMaxx Oct 9 2008, 4:39pm says:

My installer is messing up. Stuck at signage :(
Hope a zip file will come available soon.

+1 vote     reply to comment
piper647 Oct 9 2008, 5:49pm says:

OMG!!! I hoped that they'll make a portal2 but I didn't expected I would get it free. Thanks really nice job! I don't think that even with a huge budget anyone would have done better.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Tatsur0 Oct 10 2008, 1:46am says:

Great mod! Better than the original. I found the puzzles to be a lot more challenging and this time through I had to actually think before doing which just wasn't the case in the original. I loved the ending and wasn't at all disappointed at any time. Shame Valve didn't pick this up before release, polish, and sell on steam store imho you guys deserve it.


+1 vote     reply to comment
cypher543 Oct 10 2008, 9:14pm says:

This looks great! But, I think I'll wait for the actual English voices. Humans speaking like robots will really kill it for me.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Spooboy Oct 10 2008, 10:33pm says:

if anyone yet hasn't dloaded this yet i suggest you do.

great job guys i thought the ending was great!

+1 vote     reply to comment
ZiZaNie Oct 11 2008, 10:25am says:

do you need need portal?

+1 vote     reply to comment
NullSoldier Oct 12 2008, 10:45pm says:

I just beat Prelude. It's totally ace. Completely worth the download, now all it needs is proper translations and real voices. Thats the only problem I had with the mod.

+1 vote     reply to comment
mikboy Oct 13 2008, 6:10am says:

I got very low fps at final stage...

+1 vote     reply to comment
3-lions Oct 14 2008, 4:45am says:

It took me five days, but I finally got thru to the end. (or is that the beginning?)

Firstly, I must say a big thank you for making a game Valve would (almost) be proud off.
Better than most paid for efforts AND certainly the likes of Gearbox and Turtle Rock wouldn’t have done any better with an expansion pack.

This game (in parts) will be a slight throw back to pre-Valve days where games were unfair and demanded unrelenting precision to progress. Or are we just lazy/young gamers who don’t remember the good ole days when dying and replaying was just the norm?

I managed to discern all the puzzles but my laziness meant I haven’t opened a Portal for almost a year.
So stepping straight into Prelude meant I had forgotten most of the basics, which hindered my initial progress.

Overall above average, funny stuff and very Portal-esq.

+1 vote     reply to comment
PcPEdelweiss Nov 9 2008, 1:35pm says:

when the french voices for the mod?

+1 vote     reply to comment
SidBowman Nov 13 2008, 11:17pm says:

I have a NOOB question...Do you have to own portal for the download to work?

+1 vote     reply to comment
DanteXVII Jul 10 2010, 6:54pm says:

Cool mod, but level 19 is too hard, not fun at all, other than that .. great with a great.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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