Game Design

Mechanic analysis: Portal 2's energy ball replacement

written 2024-07-09

In Portal 1 there's a machine that shoots an energy ball that can travel through portals and that you have to guide into a receiver. Portal 2 adds a lot of new puzzle mechanics like gels and excursion funnels, but removes the energy balls, replacing them with a machine that shoots a laser that has to go into a receiver. The two mechanics are similar but the lasers are better for quality of life, because:

What about the puzle design space they create? This is a more two-sided comparison; each mechanic creates some that the other doesn't:


This analysis convinces me that the lasers are a better mechanic overall than the energy balls.

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