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The Weighted Companion Cube is an item in the video game Portal that is a type of weighted storage cube with hearts on it’s sides. Weighted storage cubes are often used to hold down large buttons on the ground in order to solve the various puzzles throughout the game.
The companion cube was created by project lead Kim Swift who had the idea after reading about isolated subjects falling in love with inanimate objects:
“We had a long level called Box Marathon; we wanted players to bring this box with them from the beginning to the end. But people would forget about the box, so we added dialogue, applied the heart to the cube, and continued to up the ante until people became attached to the box. Later on, we added the incineration idea. The artistic expression grew from the gameplay.”
In Portal the level that the companion cube is introduced is Test Chamber 17, and like Box Marathon, it must be used throughout the entire level in order to solve the various puzzles.
During the course of the level, if you go behind the walls you may discover strange photos that suggest a previous tester had fallen in love with their companion cube:
At the end of the level, you are forced to throw your companion cube into the incinerator in order to progress in the game. According to Portal writer Erik Wolpaw, this was used to introduce the player to the idea of using an incinerator:
Wolpaw further noted that the need to incinerate the Weighted Companion Cube came as a result of the final boss battle design; they recognized they had not introduced the idea of incineration necessary to complete the boss battle, and by training the player to do it with the Weighted Companion Cube, found the narrative “way stronger” with its “death”.
In Portal 2
Search queries began in October of 2007, which coincides with the release date of Portal on October 8th, 2007.
IRL Companion Cubes
1UP – Beyond the Box: Orange Box Afterthoughts and the Future of Valve / 2/6/2008
PC Gamer – 12 new high-res Portal 2 screenshots confirm Companion Cube comeback / 1/3/2011
Gamasutra – Portal 2’s Wolpaw: ‘I Do Not Want To Resurrect A Three-Year-Old Meme’ / 6/18/2010