Portal Stories: Mel

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Portal Stories: Mel
Portal Stories Header.jpg

Basic Information
Developer:

Prism Studios

Engine:

Source Engine

Released:

25 Jun 2015

Modes:

Singleplayer

Genre:

First-person puzzle/platformer

Requirements:

Portal 2

Portal Stories: Mel is a modification and unofficial prequel to Portal 2.

Story

An Aperture Science test subject named Mel arrives at Aperture via train in 1952. Cave Johnson tells her that she will be testing the Short-Term Relaxation Vault, and tells her she will be asleep for a few minutes, or at most an hour. After going into the vault, something goes wrong, and she is indefinitely put to sleep. Later, far into the future, she is waken up by a voice pretending to be Cave Johnson that is trying to convince her it is 1952. It tells her to pick up an ASHPD to participate in a "new test." After a few tests, he decides to stop the act, and reveals he isn't Cave Johnson, and they are in the future and stuck inside of Aperture. He is actually a core named Virgil, a 'maintenance core' who is stuck in the 'scrapyard' of Aperture, and needs your help. Later after reaching a seal, Mel takes the lift that comes down after opening the seal. Mel later reaches the scrapyard, and then the offices. After finding Virgil, he tells Mel to turn on the power. After turning on the power the voice is heard again. Its name is 'AEGIS', short for 'Aperture Employee Guardian and Intrusion System'. AEGIS begins to flood Aperture with toxic goo. Mel and Virgil take an elevator up to Virgil's testing track, through which they can access the computer room for AEGIS. Mel uses turrets to destroy the computers, and shut down AEGIS. Before shutting down, AEGIS reveals that it was trying to eliminate three targets: Mel, Virgil and GLaDOS. Mel incinerates her portal device, and goes up to the surface, saying goodbye to Virgil. Shutting down AEGIS drained cryogenic reserve power, thus waking up Chell and starting the events of Portal 2.

Mechanics

Main article: Mechanics

Portal Stories: Mel's mechanics work similarly to Portal and Portal 2.

  • New '70s portal gun model
  • '50s mobster Turrets (Voices unused due to the Source Engine's programming)
  • Advanced, high-difficulty tests
  • Stylish '50s Long Fall Boots
  • Death Fizzler

Characters

  • Mel: Mel is the main protagonist of Portal Stories: Mel. She is a middle-aged brunette woman sporting a brown Aperture jumpsuit and spring based long fall boots. She also has minimal makeup such as red nail varnish and red lipstick. Little is known about her history as she is a silent protagonist similar to Chell from Portal and Portal 2, however Virgil does tell us about her struggles in Olympics, thus proving her Olympic status as an athlete in the 1936 Nuremberg Olympics. Her story starts in the old 1950s Aperture in a small train, akin to the beginning to the original Half-Life [[1]], and Cave Johnson gives us a quick synopsis of the facility, along with his usual antics (i.e. firing an employee for a simple spelling error). She soon walks through the brand new unnamed community founded by Aperture Science themselves, and going into the new yet faulty Aperture Science Short-Term Relaxation Vault (most likely an earlier version of the Aperture Science Long-Term Relaxation Vault). She falls asleep as Cave Johnson instructs her to do and then she soon falls into a long slumber. Once awoken "Cave Johnson" soon tells her she successfully completed her test and that she can complete another brand new test. As Mel looks around, it is clear that a long time has passed and Mel carries out her adventure inbetween Portal and Portal 2, and after the Bring Your Daughter To Work Day incident leaving all the scientists dead as well as GLaDOS deactivated and badly damaged by Chell. Mel is soon led by "Cave Johnson" to a vintage portal gun, in a smashed shelf filled with an array of comical rewards and trophies highlighting Aperture's achievements. She makes her way around the destroyed Aperture facility with technology well beyond Mel's time period, but "Cave" reassures it was simply an earthquake that brought things from the future with it. Now Mel needs to use her 'new test' to try and solve the Enrichment Spheres and finish the 'new' testing shaft. Throughout the rest of her testing adventure, Mel has a lack of a deep character and simply acts as a gateway for the player. Soon, through testing along with Cave Johnson acting increasingly suspicious, it is soon revealed that he is not Cave Johnson and in fact a Personality Construct named Virgil, who wants Mel to help him get out of the Aperture scrapyard that he fell into, off his management rail. If Mel is successful then Virgil will let her escape Aperture to go back to her 'normal' life.

After Virgil reveals himself, the relationship starts off shaky due to a lack of trust, Virgil himself even stating 'why would you trust someone who just lied to you' but as soon as Mel sees Virgil, Virgil seems very grateful when Mel picks him up stating "my motherboard was going critical". With Mel saving Virgil's life this seems to strengthen their bond.

With the introduction of AEGIS, the main antagonist of the game, Virgil seems rather quite alarmed about the 'flooding protocol' instigated by AEGIS, flooding the whole 1970s Lima Whiskey testing track, so Virgil tries to get Mel onto his testing track, which is soon hijacked by AEGIS, showing his power over the facility, and throughout the testing track Virgil tries to get Mel out, protect her and further encourage her. Soon, Virgil devises a plan to go to an overgrown testing track as the AEGIS scanners would be instantly overwhelmed by the amount of organic life (i.e. the overgrown plants and feral wildlife). Now in the overgrown testing track, Mel treks through it, still avoiding the imminent flood. Meanwhile, Virgil tries to gather as much information on AEGIS to shut down the autonomous core and then fully shut it down. Once devising a new plan to finish off AEGIS, Mel escapes and meets up with Virgil momentarily to then go to the AEGIS hub and systematically shut down his security, such as his thermal discouragement fields, and disabling his turrets. Finally, Virgil says he can't go in due to the lack of management rails. He wishes Mel good luck and she soon goes forward to shut his autonomy off.

Finally, using the defective turrets, Mel shuts down the AEGIS core leaving the AEGIS mainframe to a manual input. She shuts AGEIS down, but then soon finds out AEGIS's main goal was to completely flood the facility to fully destroy GLaDOS as its sole purpose was to protect all Aperture employees and accidentally seeing Mel and Virgil as murderers along with GLaDOS after she flooded the place herself with a deadly neurotoxin. Now Mel can finally escape, but first has to incinerate her old portal gun and have a final goodbye with Virgil and get to the surface and see the external ruins of the previous Aperture-founded community.

Then, a clear view of Mel shocked by her surroundings is shown and her adventure ends, we have very little information on Mel and seeing as Portal Stories: Mel is not canon, there is no acknowledgement to her in Portal 2, but it can be assumed she tries to live her life, but seeing the surrounding is completely overrun with wildlife, it seems that human life is scarce and society has probably collapsed, probably to the events of the Half-Life series.

An image of Mel in-game seeing herself through a portal
  • Virgil: Virgil is a personality construct, built by Aperture Science, probably in the late Cave Johnson/early Caroline era of the company as one of the first cores, due to his eye being the '70s logo of Aperture, as well as him having a great deal of knowledge on the older facility. He has a dark red skin with a tropical theme, and his orange eye cracked. Being a personality construct, he is a sentient AI and has a personality as the title implies. Throughout the game, he is shown to have much more intelligence then Wheatley, but he is simply referred to as a maintenance core and does not possess a defined personality trait like the Space Sphere, Rick or the Fact Sphere.

Virgil first appears as a fake Cave Johnson after the facility fell into disrepair and tries to guide Mel out to help him escape, only wanting to get out of his "technological nightmare", but as soon as Mel saves his motherboard from going critical, he starts to devise a plan to let both of them escape. However with the security system AEGIS flooding the place, Virgil tries to launch Mel onto his testing track for it to be hi-jacked a couple of tests in. He devised a second plan to go to the overrun facility to confuse AEGIS and use it as an distraction to find a way to destroy AEGIS and stop the flooding protocol. Finally once out of the overrun testing track, Virgil instructs Mel to shut down the AEGIS security and shut down the autonomy mainframe just to leave a manual input. Once Mel defeats AEGIS, Virgil and Mel depart and Virgil is left in Aperture Science, only with the other cores, Chell and GLaDOS once they wake up. Seeing that Portal Stories: Mel is non-canon it is unknown what truly happens to Virgil after the game or in the time period of Portal 2. Finally, it is also inferred that Virgil maybe be homosexual or bisexual as he shows some subtle attraction to the Rainbow Core, who is a male personality core.

An image of Virgil trying to hack the mainframe, similar to Wheatley, with no avail.
  • AEGIS: AEGIS (Aperture Employee Guardian and Intrusion System) is the main antagonist of the game. He can speak and make autonomous decisions, but they are based on protecting the scientists and does not show any self-awareness or sentience. He can only follow protocols and what will be safest for the scientists. He also seems to have great power over the facility, like GLaDOS, such as dispensing turrets, starting a flooding sequence or a asphyxiation program and even control testing tracks. He is first encountered in old Aperture when you have almost escaped the Lima Whiskey testing track as its radars can probably pick Mel up and immediately deems you as a threat, assuming you killed all the scientists in the Bring Your Daughter To Work Day incident.
An image of AEGIS, in a similar position to GLaDOS
  • Rainbow Core: The Rainbow Core appears as an Easter egg in a Test Chamber involving Excursion Funnels, and speaks in a similar fashion to the Adventure Sphere. Virgil seems to be attracted to him, as evidenced by Virgil hoping Mel 'got his serial number'.

Trivia

  • The original Portal 2 was going to be a prequel and the main protagonist was also called Mel, but the two are mostly different characters and this beta Mel would go up against a southern Cave Johnson in the early days of Aperture, however it was changed to a sequel with Chell and GLaDOS because people missed Chell and GLaDOS' relationship, so Mel was scrapped.
  • Ratman's dens can also be found in Portal Stories: Mel and one depicts AEGIS with millions of hands, depicting its control over the facility, when it is online.
  • A hidden companion cube can be found in Chapter 4, and is immediately fizzled on attempts to pick it up.
  • The number "2056" appears many times during the game, in a mysterious way. It can be found at the beginning of the game on the train, and many other times, appearing also in an Easter egg and an achievement. This is a reference to developer LoneWolf2056's username.
  • It is possible to use the developer console to access the Puzzle Creator. However, all of the models and textures are missing, and you can't actually play the chambers.

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