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Get Portal free on Steam until Sept. 20

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This is a treat. Valve is offering the original hit first-person puzzle game Portal for free, starting Friday and lasting until Sept. 20. You can grab your copy of Portal for Mac (s aapl) (or PC, if that’s what you’re into) on Steam. If you haven’t played Portal, it’s a terrific puzzle gaming experience that’s probably unlike anything you’ve ever tried before. If you have played it, it’s worth playing again.

I was late to the Portal party, having only played it for the first time last year, and despite being exposed to years of hype (the game originally came out in October 2007), it still managed to exceed my expectations. It’s funny, and challenging yet also accessible, so give it a shot even if you’re not usually much of a first-person gamer.

Each level in the game is a series of rooms from which you have to escape, using only your wits and handheld teleportation gun, which fires Portals that allow you to quickly traverse great distances in an instant. If you’re into maddening puzzle games like Unblock Me on the iPhone and iPad, you’ll be amazed at how well a similar concept translates to a game with first-person shooter mechanics. The game holds up surprisingly well despite being four years old now, too.

Portal usually retails for $10 on Steam, and its sequel, released this year, costs $29.99. This is a smart move for Valve, which is likely hoping to encourage folks to grab Portal 2. I still haven’t pulled the trigger on the newer game, but the only thing preventing me from doing so is the knowledge that it’ll be a huge time suck whenever I do start playing.

Getting Portal requires that you first download and install the Steam store, but it doesn’t take long, and the store is actually something you should have on your Mac anyway if you’re at all into gaming. The nice thing about Portal being an older game is that it also doesn’t have very high system requirements; an integrated Intel (s intc) HD 3000 or higher card should suit you just fine. Plus, since it’s free, there’s no harm in just downloading it and seeing if it runs.

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