Valve’s new Portal spin-off will help you get to grips with the Steam Deck

Grady the Robot from Aperture Desk Job
(Image credit: Valve)

Valve has announced Aperture Desk Job, a “free playable short” set in the Portal universe that’s been designed to help players get to grips with the new Steam Deck.

Valve describes Aperture Desk Job as a game that re-imagines the “been-there-done-that genre of walking simulators” and puts players “in the lightning-spanked, endorphin-gorged world of sitting still behind things.” 

In Aperture Desk Job, you’ll play as an entry-level employee on their first day working for Aperture Science. Your job is a product inspector and while it’s not entirely certain how that’ll play out in the game, the trailer makes us think it’s not going to be the smoothest process. You can watch the short trailer for yourself below:

Managing expectations, Valve explicitly states that Aperture Desk Job is “not a sequel to Portal”. Instead, it's more of a tech demo set in the expanded universe of those games, having been specifically designed to walk players through the controls and features of the Steam Deck. And if that doesn't strike you as particularly thrilling, Valve adds that it does so “while not being nearly as boring as that sounds.” 

For those on PC who want to have a go, it’s worth noting that the listing notes that the game “requires a controller in order to play” and that “playing with a keyboard and mouse isn't supported.”

Aperture Desk Job will launch for free on March 1 2022, with its official Steam page already up and visible. 

Analysis: How’s the Steam Deck looking?

Valve’s Steam Deck launched officially on February 25 2022 but, as with most gaming hardware right now, it’s kind of hard to just go out and buy one due to supply constraints. Instead, you can make a reservation to order one, with a current expected order availability date of “after Q2 2022”. 

In our review of Steam Deck, we’ve given it four and a half stars out of five, describing it as "a brilliant device with a huge amount of potential" and a good option for those who already have a huge Steam library but aren’t especially keen on a gaming laptop. Console players may, however, find it a little more difficult to look past the Steam Deck’s rougher edges and we reckon it's less a Switch rival and more a gaming laptop alternative.

Having a short designed to showcase just what a bit of gaming hardware can do always feels like a nice touch, especially when it's set in an already beloved universe and doesn't appear to be short on Portal’s trademark humor. 

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.