Aperture Desk Job is a new game that carries on the bureaucratic comedy horror of Portal, and it will be a free way to get acquainted with Steam Deck.
Valve debuted Aperture Desk Job and its March 1 release date along with the announcement that it was sending out the first batch of order invites to customers with paid Steam Deck reservations. Valve is framing Aperture Desk Job as a “free playable short,” and its Steam page very explicitly notes that it is not Portal 3 – but the setting and sense of humor seem like they’ll be very familiar for people who know that the name “Cave Johnson” belongs to a person rather than a suggestively named geological formation.
While it isn’t being billed explicitly as a Steam Deck exclusive, something which Valve has said it will not pursue, the Aperture Desk Job Steam listing specifies that it “requires a controller in order to play” and will not work with a keyboard and mouse. The gameplay video indicates it will have functions that specifically correspond to all of Steam Deck’s unique inputs (including the rear paddles and dual track pads), so it may be tough to replicate the play experience elsewhere – but it looks like Valve will let you give it a shot if you want.
Steam deck co-designer Greg Coomer told us that Valve wants Aperture Desk Job to do for Steam Deck what The Lab (another Portal-adjacent experience) did for Steam VR; he also talked about how Steam Deck will be a “multi-generational category” for Valve in the same interview.
“It’ll be another kind of introductory experience that is pretty high fidelity,” Coomer said. “I mean, its purpose really is just to introduce the hardware to you. So like those other products, you know, no one here would call it a full game or anything. But it’s still a pretty, pretty exciting piece of content.”
Check out our Steam Deck review to see what we thought after our hands-on experience with the console.