On February 25, 2022, Valve quietly premiered a trailer for Aperture Desk Job. The video intentionally didn’t explain what the game was, but aside from including the word Aperture in the title, it was clear that it was set in the Portal universe. At the end of the trailer, it became clear that it would only be released in a few days, and it would be free.
As promised, the game was released on March 1st, and nobody seems to have played it, which is a shame because it’s fantastic, “Short to Play,” as Valve puts it.
There are no portals in Aperture Desk Job, but it is a Portal game. It features the established character Portal as well as a new character named Grady, voiced by one of my favorite comedians (and maybe yours after watching the clip below), Nate Bargatze.
Perhaps the game’s most compelling draw for Portal fans is that it’s canon. You spend most of your time with Grady, but you also spend time with Cave Johnson. Not only did the writers of Portal and Portal 2 create more lines for the lemon-hating Aperture founder, but JK Simmons jumped into the recording booth to do the new dialogue. Neither Cave Johnson nor J.J. Kay Simmons’ involvement in the game’s limited marketing has not gone unnoticed. It was a pleasant surprise for me when I played it, but I decided to tell you because if you haven’t played it yet, maybe it will push you over the edge to finally get the download involved.
The whole idea behind the Aperture Desk Job is that it’s meant to be a showcase for the Steam Deck. It’s best played on a Steam Deck because it takes advantage of the console’s various hardware capabilities, but it doesn’t. They demand Steam Deck: The game was released at a time when Steam Decks were incredibly hard to come by, which may have contributed to it being underplayed. Many may have rightly assumed that it requires a Steam Deck. The comparison isn’t perfect, but it does feel a bit like Astro’s Playroom on the PlayStation 5 if it was also released on the PlayStation 4. And to be criminally neglected.
If you love Portal like I did, there’s no reason not to play it. It’s funny and pushes the Portal story forward a bit. I’m afraid that if more people don’t play it, Valve will point to that as a reason not to continue making games in the Portal universe. One a completely random person on Twitter “I really underestimated how exciting it would be to spend a little more time in the portal universe and hear Cave Johnson’s new dialogue in Aperture Desk Job. It’s a short experience, but it made me so happy.” Wow, they sure sound smart.
Here’s a direct link to add the game to your Steam library. If you have a Steam Deck, try playing there. If you don’t, play it everywhere you can. it’s cool, it’s short, and it’s probably the closest thing we’ll get to a new Portal game anytime soon.