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Best games like Portal and Portal 2 for mind-bending puzzles

games like portal
(Image credit: Valve)

Making a best games like Portal list is tricky. Despite their age, Portal and its follow-up Portal 2 are so intelligent, so intuitive, so enjoyable, and, crucially, so much fun that mirroring the formula is hardly an easy task. The blatant copies come nowhere close to their source material, whereas the variations on the theme arguably don't fly close enough to what makes the OG games great. Still, there are a host of Portal alikes that are worth checking out, which we've listed below. Here are the best games like Portal and the best games like Portal 2 available today.  

Best games like Portal

Q.U.B.E. 2

QUBE 2

(Image credit: Toxic Games)

The original Q.U.B.E. drew Portal comparisons because of its first-person perspective and single-room puzzles. Using a magic glove, you pulled coloured blocks out of the environment at predetermined points by clicking on them, creating platforms and ramps to get through the level. Sadly, it looked sterile, and never quite built on its promising premise. Sequel Q.U.B.E. 2 delivered on that potential, with gorgeous environments and a stream of new puzzle-solving tools that you combine in inventive ways.

In contrast to Q.U.B.E.’s plain white chambers, the sequel’s world is split into distinct stylish zones, such as a forest and a laboratory. On top of the basic block pulling from the first game you’re activating magnets, laying down oil slicks, turning on fans to make you float, and burning flammable doors. By the end, you’re juggling four or five different systems, and feeling very smug about your massive brain.

Available on PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC

Antichamber

Antichamber

(Image credit: Demruth)

Part of Portal’s brilliance comes from how solid its rules feel: solutions are logical, and once you’ve figured out how to beat a puzzle it’s just a matter of doing things in the right order. While Antichamber displays some of that logic, particularly when you’re placing cubes using coloured guns, it shines brightest when it’s flouting the laws of reality. Its abstract puzzles blend optical illusions with mind-bending physics that require equal parts experimentation and blind faith. Leap off ledges, run through deadly ripwires and stare into the abyss, hoping something interesting happens: and more often than not, it does.

Available on PC

The Talos Principle

Talos Principle

(Image credit: Devolver)

An omnipotent narrator, redirectable energy beams, pressure plates and increasingly difficult puzzles isolated in their own discrete areas. Sound familiar? The Talos Principle takes the best bits of many puzzle games, including the Portals, and shapes them into something all its own. Using beams, fans, blocks and electrical jammers you’ll open doors and reveal secrets, all-the-while soaking up its philosophical story.

Its narrative pulls you towards a central tower, but it’s what happens around the edges that makes you think: its soliloquies on the nature of humanity and machine intelligence are deep but accessible, and will stop you in your tracks as often as the physical puzzles. If you want to ignore all the words, it works well as a straightforward logic game, with tough tests that will keep you scratching your head for half an hour or more at a time. 

Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, and PC

The Stanley Parable

Stanley Parable

(Image credit: Stanley Parable)

The Stanley Parable shares a game engine, some locations, and even dialogue lines with Portal, but what reminds us most of Valve’s puzzler is its narrator — a sarcastic, funny, all-seeing voice that is both your friend and enemy. 

The Stanley Parable isn’t even really a puzzle game, but if it’s the interaction between Portal’s protagonist and G.L.A.D.O.S. that hooked you, prepare for a feast. The narration happens in real-time, and the voice will both pre-empt and react to the choices you make with hilarious, playful results. When the narrator says, “Stanley took the first open door on his left to get back to business,” you can obey, or you can pass by the door in search of secrets and one of its many multiple endings. Just don’t expect the narrator to approve.

Available on PC

The Swapper

The Swapper

(Image credit: Facepalm Games)

The second-best gun in puzzle gaming. With its titular Swapper, you create a clone of yourself with a single click, and warp your consciousness into that clone with a second. You can generate up to four clones, and they’ll all mimic your actions exactly, which is handy for pushing blocks and pulling levers. By switching between them you can fling your soul across entire rooms and walk your creations off sharp drops if necessary, all in the name of reaching the next puzzle.

The derelict spaceship setting and the constant death – of both the real you and of your clones, if you can even remember which one the “real you” is – provide a ponderous backdrop to the puzzling, and make you think about the nature of consciousness. All the while, the puzzles become evermore difficult, with coloured lamps that block your ability to clone and rooms that reverse gravity. It’s tough, thoughtful, and the controls still feel smooth.

Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC

Quantum Conundrum

Quantum Conundrum

(Image credit: Square Enix)

What better game to play after Portal than one built by its own lead designer, Kim Swift? Quantum Conundrum was the first game she released after leaving Valve, and its challenges share much of Portal’s brilliance. 

As the young nephew of Professor Fitz Quadwrangle, you solve puzzles by shifting between alternate dimensions, each of which affects objects in different ways. One dimension turns everything light and fluffy, letting you pick up heavy objects with ease or blow blocks of metal around with fans. Another slows time, letting you throw a box, run to the other side of the room, and prepare to catch it before it arrives. At its best, these dimensions collide in unexpected ways. The story isn’t a patch on Portal’s, but the puzzle-platforming reaches the same heights in places. 

Available on PC, and Xbox One

The Turing Test

The Turing Test

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The Turing Test isn’t as tough as Portal, but it still makes you think. Its clever puzzles mainly ask you to open doors using switches, plugs and floating blue orbs — they offer just enough resistance to make them satisfying to snap, but not enough to stump you for minutes on end, which might just be your sweet spot. 

As Ava Turing, a researcher on an icy Jupiter moon, you must navigate the corridors of a space station while guided by the Technical Operations Machine (T.O.M.), an artificial intelligence with questionable motives. It’s worth hanging around for the big plot twist two-thirds of the way through, which both shifts the way you think about the game’s examination of free will and changes the way you approach each puzzle.

Available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC

Portal Stories: Mel

Portal Stories: Mel

(Image credit: Prism Game Studio)

The Portal series has spawned plenty of fan-made projects, some of which have branched off into full games. Portal Stories: Mel, which is a massive free mod for Portal 2, is the pick of the bunch: it’s an unofficial eight-hour prequel to Portal 2 stuffed with challenging puzzle rooms that are as good as anything made by Valve. It assumes you’ve played the base game and doesn’t bother with tutorials, so you’re in the deep end from the start, coloured gels and all. It feels more freeform than Portal 2 in places, and you actually have to work out where it’s possible to place portals, as well as how to best use them to figure out the puzzle at hand.

Set in the Aperture Science facility in the ‘50s, it boasts full voice acting and an early prototype of the portal gun that looks like it’s cobbled together from basic office supplies. We love it as much as the real thing.

Download it on Steam

The Witness

The Witness

(Image credit: Thekla Inc.)

The Witness and the Portal games only share a few similarities — both are atmospheric puzzle games set in first-person and constantly layer new ideas on top of old ones — but we can’t bring ourselves to leave it off this list because it’s so bloody good. Portal is a self-contained 10-hour story that wants you to keep pushing onwards, while The Witness is long, winding, and meditative, letting you leave puzzles alone and return later if you can’t work them out. 

All its puzzles involve drawing a line on a grid, and each its 11 zones have different rules for how exactly you’ll complete them. Those rules are never outright explained, so you have to figure them out yourselves, and the solutions will often come when you’re exploring a completely different zone, staring at its scenic vistas, or even trying to sleep at night. It’s the kind of game you can’t stop thinking about, even when your screen is off. 

Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC, iOS, and Nvidia Shield

Ibb & Obb

Ibb & Obb

(Image credit: Sparpweed)

We recommend Ibb & Obb for those that can’t get enough of Portal 2’s co-op campaign. It’s not anywhere near as funny, but it requires just as much teamwork and coordination to complete. As two colourful creatures you and a friend step through gravity-swapping portals to platform through levels, bouncing off each other's heads as you go.  

Just like in Portal, momentum is key, and at times you’ll want to fly through portals as fast as you can so that you soar out the other side. You can even bump your friend into the air, if you time your jumps right. It can feel far too difficult at times, particularly in its night-time levels, but the pain is worth it when you finally beat its final challenge.

Available on PC

Sam's gaming PC is literally held together with masking tape, and he bought his PS4 from a friend of a friend of a (dodgy) friend for a tenner. He wishes that games still had paper manuals, mainly so he could get the satisfaction of ignoring them. He grew up in Essex, and now lives in London.
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