Aperture Laboratories is already a pretty broken place in Portal 2. Walls and floors shift at will, pipes ferrying humans and crates around an impossibly large cavern as deranged robots cackle.
It's a brilliant, impossible science factory. But for YouTuber Krzyhau, Valve could've gone a whole lot further in making a true physics nightmare. After all, Portal 2 never let you pick up the entire test chamber while standing inside it.
While I only discovered his work this week, Kryzhau has been making these broken joke chambers for a few years now. The first, from April 2019, is still among the best, completely subverting every aspect of Test Chamber 20. Redirection cubes now fire lasers themselves, non-portal surfaces are now portal surfaces, and Kryzhau pulls apart the wall itself to move an objective to a more convenient spot.
There are now three "seasons" of these broken chambers. Some are recursive, Escher-like labyrinths. Some are dramatic tragedies played out to sad piano accompaniments. Some feature the Scatman, with bombs.
I quietly love that they all start from the same, simple jumping off point. Chamber 20 isn't the most elaborate puzzle in Portal 2, but Kryzhau has spun it off into dozens of absurd new directions—each titled like a beginner mapmaker asking a forum why their first map doesn't work.
Unlike Portal 2's impressive time-travel mod, Kryzhau's maps aren't properly playable—designed as gags for YouTube more than fully complete Portal puzzles. But they do echo the first-person puzzlers that came in Portal's wake, calling to mind the recursive worlds of Maquette or Superliminal's playfully inconsistent perspectives.
Portal 2 is 10 years old this week, and it still more than holds up. But the way Kryzhau reconceptualises a single room offers up tantalising ideas for how a hypothetical Portal 3 could play out. The last game already played fast and loose with physics—it's time to throw it out the window entirely.