Narbacular Drop might look like a Portal predecessor at first glance and that’s because it is. Originally a student project of game development the popularity of this unique idea led to students from the development team being invited by Valve to work on the Portal series which adopts similar mechanics. Narbacular Drop is available for free through the official website with several dozen user created puzzle maps for the game also available online to extend the gameplay beyond the original core.
The Narbacular Drop plot has players exploring the strange game world as Princess “No-Knees” who lacks the ability to jump. After being imprisoned by a demon as he attempts to conquer the world players must escape the demon’s prison to help rid the demon from the land. To assist players the mountain which the demon calls home (known as Wally) provides the princess with the ability to create portals and ensure that the demon lair is removed from the mountainside.
While strange the plot is significantly more basic than Portal and never reaches the same comedic heights either. Gameplay wise though the mechanics are as close as you can get to Portal with portal based puzzles of all sorts being utilised, albeit forced on the player due to the inability to jump any distance at all.
If you’ve played Portal games before or similar games inspired by Portal the gameplay that Narbacular Drop offers will be instantly recognisable and easy to grasp. This familiar gameplay formula allows players to create two portals on almost any two surfaces which creates a teleportation link to overcome obstacles. In Narbacular Drop as your powers were granted by the mountain you’ll be unable to create portals on metallic surfaces limiting players to mountain surfaces only for some extra challenge and puzzle variation. Mechanically the controls are exactly the same as the Portal franchise with players creating a blue portal with left click and an orange portal with right click.
An interesting mechanic at play though and one that did not come across to Portal is the ability to shoot portals through active portals which makes for some unique situations albeit sometimes easier puzzle solutions. Other mechanics used in puzzles include boulders to block paths, switches that need to be activated that are out of reach, boxes to manipulate and position and lava which needs to be crossed with portals or lava turtles that will happily carry the player on their backs.
As essentially a school project Narbacular Drop is understandable an extremely short experience and won’t take longer than an hour to complete, even on your first playthrough. Accordingly the longevity of this free puzzle adventure is definitely through the level creator and the large number of custom maps that have been developed by the community.
- Experience the original game that would go on to become Portal.
- Simple and familiar gameplay that removes jumping and creates puzzles based on creating two portals.
- Includes boulders, buttons, boxes and lava for puzzle mechanics.
- Create your own levels and play ones designed by the community for additional content.
- Free to play experience.
Review Platform: PC