- What Are the Best Beginner Speedruns? – When ‘Your Favorite Game’ Simply Won’t Cut It - September 11, 2022
- Slay the Spire Tier List – Dominate the Spire with the Best Boss Relics in the Game - August 8, 2022
- The Simpsons Hit and Run Speedrun Guide - August 5, 2022
It should be no surprise that a game as beloved as Portal has a thriving Speedrunning community. What may come as a shock is how many ways there are to Speedrun the game and how hard it is to start!
There are dozens of ways to go about Speedrunning Portal, but if you don’t know what ‘Inbounds’ means or what ‘SLA’ means, it’s pretty rough for a fledgling runner. This guide aims to fix that. In this Portal Speedrun Guide, I’ll be explaining away some of the jargon, and I’ll also be presenting a decent beginners path through the Aperture Science Test Chambers.
The sections after the Test Chambers are known as the Escape sections. Although they aren’t necessarily harder, they are much harder to explain, thanks to the organic style of the environment. With this in mind, I have provided video links to beginner-friendly tutorials from Speedrun.com for these closing sections. These videos are superb and made by some of the best Portal Speedrunners on the planet!
This guide aims to familiarise you with some of the coolest tricks in Speedrunning and give you the basics for advanced techniques you can practice independently. Are you ready to think in portals? Of course, you are. Let’s begin!
Bottom Line Up Front
Portal is one of those titles where almost every movement is optimized, and the game itself has been well and truly ‘Solved’. If you’re looking to have some fun with the physics-based madness that is Portal, there are a ton of simple but downright impressive tricks you can learn, and they blow the game wide open.
Before You Begin
What Category Do You Want to Speedrun?
There are a dizzying amount of categories to pick from for Portal Speedrunning, but this guide focuses on ‘Glitchless’. I feel that this category captures the spirit of Portal and how resourceful you can be with the tools provided. Other Categories like ‘Out Of Bounds’ are incredibly impressive but will not be covered here.
Timing Your Speedrun
The most popular tool to time Speedruns is LiveSplit. It’s easy to use, and it’s free! This program also lets you split a run into chunks to track your performance in each section. You can download LiveSplit from their official website
Portal is one of those rare games where Saving and Loading are allowed during a Speedrun. Even the best runners frequently use Saves/Loads, so don’t think of them as a crutch and use them to try those risky strategies.
You’ll cross several invisible ‘triggers’ as you play through Portal. You’ve probably never given them much thought as they are always in areas you would naturally walk over. I’ll point these out in the ‘The Run’ section of the guide, but when I mention triggers, I’m referring to this.
You’ve absolutely done this technique if you’ve ever played Portal before. Flinging means falling into a Portal and having the momentum kick you out of another. As Glados puts it, “Speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out”!
Movement & Bunny Hopping (BHopping)
When you’re moving around, It’s important to know how to do it quickly! Walking is the slowest method. Jumping is much faster, but this is where we need to talk about a more advanced speedrunning technique, Bunny Hopping.
Bunny Hopping is the fastest way to move in the Glitchless category, but it will feel alien at first. It’s also very easy to learn it ‘wrong’. As this technique is rather precise, I’ve linked the best video I could find in the ‘Useful Resources’ section near the end of this guide. For your first foray into Portal Speedrunning, I suggest practising Bunny Hopping but focus on how to beat the game first.
Portal Peeking is a technique that abuses the fact that Portals fired from the Portal gun have travel time. Portal Peeking can be used to change the destination of Portals you’ve just come through without needing to shoot another one. It’s a little tricky to explain, but Chamber 15 has an entire section dedicated to this technique.
The Intended Route
I almost feel it’s sacrilege to suggest doing things the ‘normal’ way in a Speedrun, but some Chambers in Portal can be done almost as fast without tricks as with them. There’s no shame in adding Speedrun techniques to your usual route later if you cannot perform them right away.
Have You Beaten Portal Before?
Although not strictly necessary. This guide assumes you’ve beaten Portal before. Some areas of the game can be played normally and still yield a decent time for a fledgling runner.
In this guide section, I will explain how to approach each part of Aperture Science Labs as they appear in a Speedrun. As this is a ‘Glitchless’ run, you will tackle each Chamber in the same order you would in a traditional playthrough.
There isn’t too much to say about this section. You can’t leave your room until Glados activates the Portal on the wall. Afterward, make your way into the next room, stand under the Cube dispenser, and catch the Cube as it falls. You can place the Cube on the button and head for the exit or try and throw the Cube onto the button, which will be about a second faster.
Much like with the starting room, there isn’t really anything you can do in this Chamber that differs from normal. Bunny hop if you’re confident in doing so and take any corners as tight as possible. Drop off the ledge and stand in front of the Portal (pictured). Wait until you can see the Cube through the Portal, grab it, wait for the button to appear, and put it on top. Then, wait for the elevator and proceed.
You can use a few optimizations to complete this room faster! First, head out of the elevator into the room with the locked door. The door won’t open until Glados stops talking. As soon as the door unlocks, head through the Portal on the wall down the stairs. Head down, grab the Portal Gun, and immediately shoot down at your feet. This will put you where I am in the picture above. Shoot a Portal on the same panel that I have (this is important because of a trigger). Then head through the Portal on the wall next to you and head to the elevator.
As soon as you step out of the elevator, shoot a portal on the wall in front of you. You don’t need to step very far through it, but look to the right and shoot a Portal where I have (pictured). Head back through the Portal next to you, turn sharply to the left, and head into the elevator.
Head out of the elevator and towards the hole the Cube is about to fall into. Drop down the hole, shoot a Portal on any wall and take the Cube through. You can place it on the button, put a portal on the wall near the elevator, and head to the exit.
One fancy trick you can pull off here is to stand by the button instead of running to the hole and shoot a portal like I have (pictured). If you’re quick, you can catch the Cube through the Portal on the wall next to you and place it on the button without going down the hole yourself!
Chamber 05 is interesting because you need a Portal to appear in the main room, but it won’t until you pass an invisible trigger at the doorway. Once you’ve triggered that, step back, shoot a portal on the wall next to you and head through. This puts you on one of the raised platforms. Dead opposite you, there is another raised platform with a Cube. Shoot a portal at the wall behind the Cube (don’t worry, you can shoot straight through it!), head through and pick it up.
You can throw the Cube down onto the nearest button, but there’s a technique. If you step forward as you drop the Cube, your momentum will throw it slightly forward. You’ll head down there eventually, so if you miss, don’t worry!
Next, you want to shoot a Portal at the Cube down the hole behind you. This will put it on the opposite platform. Use the same drop technique, and head down and through the unlocked door. Once you’re through, shoot a Portal straight ahead of you, and head to the elevator.
In this Chamber, they expect you to place a Portal for a Kill-Ball to activate a switch! We’re not doing any of that. Shoot a portal on the ceiling exactly where I have (pictured). Turn to face the Orange Portal on the ground and walk through it. The idea here is to land on the platform next to the elevator, but this won’t work unless you’re holding ‘Crouch’ the moment you enter the Portal. You’ll bump your head and miss the platform if you don’t crouch during your descent.
Oh, mind the Kill-Ball that periodically comes out of the Portal!
There’s a flashy way to beat Chamber 07. It’s easy to understand but a little tricky execution-wise. First, you need a portal on the ceiling like in the picture above. Next, you need to stand on the 3rd step from the bottom of the staircase and leap into the Orange Portal on the floor. Hold ‘Crouch’ when your feet leave the ground, so you don’t clip the Portals edge.
While airborne, you need to shoot a Portal onto the wall in the picture below.
This wall is dead opposite the Chamber Exit, and the goal is to fling yourself over there without needing to do the Puzzle. This trick isn’t easy, but you should be able to see what’s going wrong if it’s not working.
This is a tricky Chamber that requires precise jumps. Make sure you’re frequently saving! I’ll demonstrate an easy method to get to the end and explain the more advanced strategy at length. You first want to get to the platform with the Orange Portal on the wall. You can carefully jump off the railings to reach it. From here, place a portal to match mine (pictured above).
Carefully step into the orange Portal and turn right as you’re doing it. If you’ve managed that, you should be where I am in the picture below. You still have a tricky jump to perform to reach the end of the Chamber, but if you jump as late as you can and smoothly turn left onto the platform, you should make it.
This strategy IS complex, so don’t get frustrated if you can’t do it immediately. Doing this Chamber the intended way is also relatively quick and is perfectly fine whilst you’re learning!
Instead of using the switch on the wall as a platform, you can shoot a portal into the top left corner of the room and use this small square instead. This route is the ‘Meta’ strategy for this Chamber but learn it in your own time as there are almost zero margins for error.
Chamber 09 marks the first instance of Portal Peeking! Once you step out of the elevator, place a Portal on the wall next to you. Shoot a Portal at the Cube (pictured) and IMMEDIATELY sidestep through the one you put on the wall. If you’re quick enough, you’ll be on the raised platform, but the destination of the Portal you stepped through will have changed. From here, drag the Cube through, fire a Portal through the square hole, and step through to the exit.
You can do this Chamber as usual until you reach the 3rd jump. This section of the Chamber has a ‘look trigger’, meaning you have to look in a specific direction (in this case, straight up) to make the wall section above move into position. Once you’ve done this, walk forward and fall into the hole, so you’re next to the orange Portal. Look up at the wall sticking out and place a Portal as high as possible on it. Then, look down where I have marked in the picture below, walk forward into the Portal and don’t press anything else.
Doing this should fling you to the exit. If it doesn’t work, open the Options menu and tick the ‘Portal funnel’ option. This option slightly directs you toward floor Portals.
This is the Chamber where it feels like the training gloves are off, and you finally get to use both Portals at will. As these are interchangeable, I will refer to these as P1 and P2 from now on.
At the first available opportunity, place a Portal on any wall and walk through it. Place a Portal where I have (pictured), and you can use it to jump to the central platform. This jump feels slightly inconsistent, almost like you have to jump later than you should to avoid bumping your head.
The easiest way to progress from here is to press the button and shoot P1 through the hatch. Then, shoot P2 on a wall near the slime. Jump to P2, and don’t worry if you miss; the slime won’t kill you immediately. If your P1 landed where mine did in the picture below, the elevator is to your left.
The intended route through this Chamber is only a couple of seconds slower than the much harder optimal route. There are a couple of ‘look triggers’ in this area. Both of them are in the pictures below.
Chamber 13 is split into two smaller rooms. Have your P1 & P2 match mine in the picture below in the first room. My P1 is on the upper platform. Drag the Cube out of the Portal on the ground and place it on the button.
Chamber 13 Large Room
From the smaller room, shoot a P1 where I have (there’s usually a white patch on the ceiling to mark this position). Take the Cube off the button and drop through P2, which should still be on the ground. Leave the Cube on the switch, jump to the lower platform and stand on the other switch. With both buttons pressed, the door will open. Shoot P1 through the door, P2 on any wall and walk to the elevator.
Chamber 14 is the home of my favorite trick in the run! It looks fantastic and skips the entire Chamber. Fun Fact, there’s no hit detection on the Elevator doors you just came through!
Put your P1 on the ceiling as close to the edge as possible and your P2 where mine is. You can use the floor tiles for guidance, but I’ve highlighted the area in red.
Now that everything is ready, step back in front of the elevator. Look just in front of your P2, hold forward, jump and crouch. When you start to fall through the tunnel of portals you’ve just made for yourself, shoot your P1. If you’ve not altered your look position, this will kick you up to the raised platform right by the exit! If this is difficult, make sure the ‘Portal funnel’ is turned on.
Chamber 15 is in a couple of parts. The intended route for the first part is relatively quick, but you can save a little bit of time setting up your P1 & P2 as I have (pictured). When you exit the Portal high on the wall, you can shoot a P1 high to your right and a P2 on the ground. You should have just enough momentum to fling over the barrier.
The Puzzle in the next room is fast even if you do it normally. Once you’ve beaten it and the platform blocking the exit lowers, you can P1 through the small gap as I have and P2 by your feet to get into the next section faster.
Chamber 15 Portal Peeks
These Portal Peeks are the most challenging section of the run thus far, but it will feel great when you do them for the first time!
First, shoot P1 where I have in the picture above, then P2 on the closest wall. Slowly crouch into your P2 but don’t go all the way; it’ll look a little like the picture below. Crouching is essential throughout this section as it stops you from getting kicked out of the Portals when you place them.
Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Hang out of the P2 side, and whilst holding left (still crouching), shoot a P1 where I aim.
I’m sure you can see where you’re going with this now. Match my aim, and shoot a P2 whilst holding right.
To close this Chamber out, you can finish with a rather stylish fling onto the platform by the elevator. Walk through the Portal, quickly shoot a P1 where I’m aiming (below) and a P2 where you’re about to land. You should have enough height to get to the exit.
If you’ve managed all of that, congratulations! That’s an impressive bit of Speedrun tech you’ve just pulled off!
This route isn’t optimal but is a great starting point for a stressful Chamber. You can approach most of it as you usually would, dropping Cubes on the gun turrets or avoiding them altogether.
There’s an annoying gun turret guarding the door with a camera on the wall behind it. It doesn’t look like this should work, but if you fire a Portal at the camera, it will knock over the gun turret almost every time.
Finally, stand on the button, shoot P1 as I have above, and then place a P2 on any wall. Walk through P2, and the exit will be on your left.
There’s a good but inconsistent strategy for this Chamber, and it saves tons of time! You’re given the Companion Cube at the start of this Chamber, and you’ll use it to deflect Kill-Orbs up the two long corridors as usual. The next room is where things get interesting!
Can you see the camera on the wall? You want that! Shoot P1 straight at it, then P2 on a wall and quickly grab the camera through it. Take the camera to the exit ledge and carefully place it against the wall. Sadly, the camera sometimes just flops over, so save often.
Once the camera is in position, rest the Companion Cube on top. You can use a tiny part of the camera that sticks out as a platform and then quickly jump and crouch on top of the Companion Cube.
From here, you can jump and crouch onto the ledge and take your Companion Cube to the end of the Chamber without having to do a single puzzle!
Chamber 18 is rather complex but manageable once you break it down. Start with a Portal Peek. Shoot P1 where I’m aiming (pictured above) and P2 on the wall next to you.
Slightly step through your P2, shoot your P1 where I’m aiming (pictured above), and step back through. Once that’s set up, shoot your P2 on the ground.
You want your P2 on the ground because you’re about to jump through it! You want a P1 where I’m aiming (pictured above) and P2 by your feet on the way down. You’ll be launched deep into the Chamber if you do this correctly.
Another Camera Trick
If you’re quick, you can grab this camera from the room full of gun turrets. If you set a portal up where I have (pictured above), you can fire a portal straight at the camera and grab it on the way through.
This technique is tricky, but whilst crouching, push the camera into the door’s crack, and once it starts to angle up, let go. Then, return to the red button, briefly step on it and if the stars align (seriously, save often!), the door will be slightly held open by the camera.
Finally, head back to the door and shoot a P1 through the crack. P2 on any wall, run through and continue the Chamber as usual.
You’ll feel at home if you’ve mastered the Portal Peeks in Chamber 15! P1 where I’m aiming (Pictured above), then P2 on the nearby wall. From here, you need to do 3 Portal Peeks through your P2. There are three pictures below showing where you need to aim.
If you peer through that final Portal now, you should be able to see the furnace, one last Portal Peek here, and a portal where I’m aiming (pictured below) will skip the entire section where Glados tries to kill you!
Now you’ve escaped the Test Chambers, most of the optimizations for the rest of this section revolve around using your portals to skip areas you would typically walk across. I won’t explain every optimization you can make here (there are a LOT!), but I will mention the most impactful ones.
Time Saver 1
Getting straight to the top of the pipe from where I’m standing is possible. It’s tight, but there’s a tiny window to squeeze a Portal through where I’m aiming.
Time Saver 2
There’s a fiendishly tight gap here to place a Portal. Note the girder placement to my left. There’s a staircase beside me in this area, and sometimes I find it easier to jump from there to land this shot.
If you’ve made it this far, well done. This final picture marks a loading screen trigger. This corridor is where the Chambers end and the Escape section begins.
Escape 01/ Escape 02
At the beginning of the guide, I explained that I would not be covering the Escape sections. The issue is that the environment here lacks easy reference points. Following along in picture form would confuse even an experienced player. With this problem in mind, the link below will take you to a Google Document on Speedrun.com with videos for those remaining areas. These are made by some of the most respected Portal Speedrunners and will demystify the closing sections of the game!
Bunny Hopping is tricky to learn without visualizing it. Out of every video I’ve watched on the technique, this is the best and most concise I could find
If you want to take Portal Speedrunning seriously, you can find a great video explaining everything from Mod-Tools to LiveSplit settings here. This video also extensively covers Keybinds, which many players will find helpful.
A list of the best Portal Glitchless Speedruns, along with videos of each, can be found on the official Speedrun.com page
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can I Speedrun Portal on Console?
Answer: Absolutely! Portal is part of the Orange Box collection available on multiple consoles. As of very recently, you can even play Portal on the Nintendo Switch as part of the Portal: Companion Collection.
Question: Why Didn’t you Explain ___ Strategy?
Answer: This guide aims to give first-time runners some simple strategies to beat Portal quickly. I have omitted several tricks and tricky optimizations to keep the guide user-friendly.
Question: What is the World Record for Portal Glitchless?
Answer: At the time of writing, the World Record belongs to Shizzal with an incredible 14 mins 36 seconds.
Nothing beats Speedrunning a classic! Portal is a complex game to Speedrun, but the community is welcoming and willing to share a wealth of knowledge. If you’re ready to invest the time, Portal is both fun and rewarding.