Mod of the Week: Dilapidation, for Portal 2
I haven't really played many community-made Portal 2 maps. Whenever I get the urge for more Portal, it's usually because I'm in the mood for the biting insults of GLaDoS, the goofy earnestness of Wheatley, or the brusque instructional tones of Cave Johnson, as opposed to simply wanting more puzzles. This week, though, I decided to finally see what the Portal community has been up to, and I managed to find a decent seven-part single-player campaign called Dilapidation, set in a damaged and deeply unstable corner of Aperture Science.
Dilapidation was created by modder LoneWolf2056, whose name suggests that he or she is either a lone wolf from the near future or perhaps the 2,056th lone wolf to join the Steam Community. The campaign takes place after Chell's latest escape from the Aperture labs, and begins with you, an unnamed tester, waking up next to what remains of your stasis cube in the Enrichment Center. Like a series mentioned last year on PC Gamer, Decay, the Enrichment Center of Dilapidation is busted, rusted, broken down and getting worse. It's filled with shattered walls, piles of rubble, overgrown plants, and even some birds that have gotten in through some missing ceiling tiles that provide a few tantalizing glimpses of sky.
The puzzles of Dilapidation are mostly very large, generally made up a series of smaller interconnected test chambers that form one big puzzle requiring a number of coordinated steps to complete. There are no gel puzzles or turrets, but just about everything else from Portal 2 is used: laser beams and fields, buttons and switches, storage cubes and discouragement redirection cubes, light bridges and excursion funnels, and plenty of emancipation grids. There are also a few puzzles involving faith plates and a couple that require you to power up a circuit.
It's not just puzzles that are on display: Dilapidation also has a fantastic sense of atmosphere. There are some great sequences between puzzles where the floors buckle, bridges collapse, and elevators malfunction, sending you tumbling deeper and deeper into the facility. These events aren't just for show, either. At one point a metal catwalk collapses, dropping you into a new test chamber, and the section of the metal walkway that plunges in with you winds up being part of the puzzle's solution. Crafty!
The beginning of each new chapter picks up right where the last left off, making it feel like a complete game as opposed to just a series of maps with the same theme. The whole thing feels pretty expertly done and well-planned. Rather than just give players a challenge, it's clear the modder wanted to provide an entire experience, and I'd call it a success.
With almost no dialogue (you get a bit in the final chapter, as Dilapidation closes with a genuine boss fight) you wouldn't think there would be a lot humor in this campaign. And, of course, there isn't. Still, I wound up laughing a few times due to the Weighted Companion Cube, which appears here and there throughout the maps, tantalizingly close but just out of reach. It actually becomes a running gag as you try to reunite with the box-shaped heart, but are constantly stymied by the crumbling architecture and faulty equipment.
How hard are the puzzles? The creator describes them as medium/hard, which for me translates to hard/quite damn hard/this is very, very hard. On the other hand, I've never been particularly great at Portal's puzzles anyway, so I expect the average gamer will do a bit better. It took me about three hours, so it'll probably take you around two hours, except for the one guy in the comments who will inevitably claim to have beaten all of the maps in fifteen minutes without even using the portal gun.
Installation: Steam Workshop makes it easy as
pie cake. Just subscribe to the Dilapidation collection, start Portal 2, select Community Test Chambers, then select Play Singleplayer Chambers. All the maps (0 through 6) will be listed in your queue!