For something with such famous status, it’s very interesting that Portal’s Weighted Companion Cube doesn’t even show up until pretty late in the game in terms of test chamber numbers (17 of 19), and only stays around for that one test chamber. To hear all the hype around people attaching themselves to this inanimate object and feeling guilty over having to incinerate it (Was it the hearts? I don’t know, more on that later), I figured it would play a much bigger role in the game. This was, honestly, probably the first time I felt that something in the game didn’t live up to its hype/word of mouth.
Of course, maybe I was trying too hard. Generally, I’ve done my best to not let my prejudices for the game’s memes influence what I thought about the experience of actually playing the game, but I’m not sure I could’ve helped it in this case. After solving the three main puzzles in the test chamber, I had an experience that Valve Software probably didn’t expect: Probably succumbing to Hype Backlash, I actually tried to incinerate the Companion Cube too quickly, ignoring the button on the floor (Which opened the door that would, in turn, open the incinerator) and choosing to place the cube directly on the incinerator, then wondering why it didn’t open. GlaDOS’s subsequently informing me that I had incinerated the cube quickly than anyone on record was supposed to make me feel like a heartless bastard, I guess. Instead, I felt mocked, because ironically, I probably would have done it quicker than anyone who ever played through the game for the first time if I were a little less eager to accomplish the task.
The next test chamber is the first point where I was well and truly stumped. I tried to do what I thought the game wanted me to do for a good half an hour or so, and then thought back to the conversation I had when I first played the game:
“You should have tried putting all the objects in the room on the switch.”
And I realized that there were a bunch of tiny objects at the start of the level. If this actually worked, then I would give up and admit that the game was every bit as brilliant as the meme-reciters claimed it was.