Why Haven’t You Played Aperture Desk Job?
On February 25, 2022, Valve quietly premiered a trailer for a game called Aperture Desk Job. The video deliberately didn’t explain what the game was, but beyond including the word Aperture in the title, it was clear that it took place in the Portal universe. The end of the trailer revealed that it would be released just a few days later and it would be free.
As promised, the game was released on March 1st, and it looks like no one has played it, which is a shame because it’s a fantastic, “Playable Short,” as Valve refers to it.
Aperture Desk Job doesn’t have portals in it, but it is a Portal game. It features an established Portal character, 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.
However, perhaps the most compelling area about the game for a Portal fan is that it is 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 Aperture’s lemon-hating founder, but JK Simmons jumped into the recording booth to deliver new dialogue. Neither Cave Johnson nor JK Simmons’ participation was teased in the game’s limited marketing. It was a nice surprise for me when I played, but I decided to tell you because if you haven’t played yet, maybe this will push you over the edge to finally include the download.
The whole idea behind the Aperture Desk Job is that it’s meant to be a showcase piece for the Steam Deck. It is best played on Steam Deck as it takes advantage of the console’s various hardware capabilities, but does not require Steam Deck. The game was released at a time when Steam Decks were incredibly hard to come by, which may contribute to its unplayability. Perhaps many believed that it required Steam Deck. The comparison isn’t perfect, but it’s a bit like Astro’s Playroom on the PlayStation 5 – if it had also been released on the PlayStation 4. And it would have been criminally ignored.
If you loved Portal like I did, there’s no reason not to play. It’s funny and moves the Portal story forward a bit. I fear that if more people don’t play it, Valve will point to it as a reason not to continue making games in the Portal universe. A completely random person on Twitter said about it, “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 is a direct link to add the game to your Steam library. If you have a Steam Deck, try playing it there. If you don’t, play it wherever you can – it’s great, it’s short, and it’s probably the closest thing we’ll get to a new Portal game anytime soon.