“Aperture Desk Job,” Is It Worth It?


Greavy shows you the new turret he designed. Photo by PC Gamer.

Aperture Desk Job” was released for the Steam Tech-Deck and PC on March 1. The game is a playable short-set in the same universe as its preceding “Portal” games. But do not get it twisted as ‘Portal Three’ (even though we want the third game). It is NOT the third installment. It is simply set in the “Portal” universe and likely takes place before both games, as the Aperture Labs are still in one piece.


For some background, “Portal” games follow a woman named Chell. She is the last human test subject trapped in the Aperture Science Laboratories (ASL). ASL was founded by a man called Cave Johnson. Johnson was assumed dead by the game players after hearing transmissions of him expressing his declining health. You spend the game doing various physical and mental tests in test chambers and try to escape the facility.


This playable short is essentially just some lore to the “Portal” universe and frankly kind of falls short in terms of the other two games. “Aperture Desk Job” is simply a mini-game with less than an hour of gameplay. But even still, the short and limited gameplay is a bit of a letdown.


The graphics look amazing! Valve, the game’s creators, use a program called Source to make and animate its iconic characters seen in “Portal” and its predecessors “Half-Life” and “Team Fortress Two.” It has been a while since players have seen any Valve content involving “Portal” and can see improvement from 2011s “Portal Two.” It is significantly smoother and has clear graphics.


The gameplay was minimal. Most of the game consisted of you watching what happens before you. There were maybe ten minutes of actual gameplay while the rest was just watching. While, yes, what you were watching had some good humor, reminiscent of the second game. It still was not up to par with what I would hope or expect from Valve. You hardly move in the entire game, simply moving your head around and clicking. I have nothing against point-and-click games; some of my favorites are point-and-clicks. But “Portal” games and point-and-click mechanics do not fit together very well.


It did have some good lore and backstory at the end for Cave Johnson, though. You and a personality core called Greavy go and find Johnson to show him that you invented the turrets you see in the previous games. When you find him, you discover that he had his mind uploaded to a computer drive and placed in a giant stone and iron sculpture of himself. He asks you to unplug his mind so he can pass on. Only for you to fail, resulting in him falling through the floor to the very bottom of Aperture, where he would stay with the rest of the failed machinery.


Other than that, it was an okay game. It was a little bit of a letdown gameplay-wise, but it was nice seeing the “Portal” universe for the first time in a decade. With no sign of GLaDOS, Wheatley or Chell, it makes you wonder what they are planning if anything. Valve fans know better than to expect the third game in any game, but DLCs and prequels are always open for potential.