GlaDOS, the artificially intelligent computer system from Portal, is one of the greatest video game villains of all time, but she’s an even better singer. Nothing picks me up on a dreary morning like listening to a trio of upbeat tunes from a robotic life form that’s spent countless hours trying to kill me.
Portal and Portal 2 are an amazing pair of first-person puzzle games that have had a huge impact on game design as a whole, but the first thing that comes to mind whenever Portal comes up is the voice of opera singer and voice actor Ellen McLain singing the words of geek music icon Jonathan Coulton.
It started at the end of the original Portal, with one of the least skippable ending credits sequences in gaming history.
“Still Alive” is a beautiful tune. McClain shows us the lighter side of mechanical evil, her electronically enhanced voice gently tiptoeing through Coulton’s lyrics. It’s a song that makes players reconsider their feelings about the enemy they just faced. Maybe she’s not so bad after all.
Then came Portal 2’s ending, “Want You Gone,” the most pleasant halfhearted dismissal I’ve ever heard. The lyrics are brilliant. “Goodbye, my only friend ... oh, did you think I meant you? That would be funny if it weren’t so sad.”
My personal favorite McLain and Coulton collaboration is one that’s not technically from a Portal game. Instead, it’s from the end of Lego Dimensions, Lego’s toys-to-life game, which features a Portal-themed level. GlaDOS played a pretty substantial role in the main storyline of that game, and when the credits rolled, there she was.
“You Wouldn’t Know” is a softer, sadder Portal song, despite name-dropping Batman. “It feels so strange not to hate you anymore” shouldn’t make me sniffle, but it does. In a good way.
There we go, three Portal songs from GlaDOS herself. Is everybody happy now? Don’t make me break out the Turret Opera from the end of Portal 2.