Portal fans, rejoice — or rather, bask in the mixed feelings of a new game set in the beloved franchise’s universe that isn’t at all what you’ve been clamoring for over the past decade.
Just as Steam Deck pre-orders started going out, Valve dropped a surprise trailer for Aperture Desk Job, a free Steam Deck game that’s coming on March 1 and is set within the world of Portal. BUT (isn’t there always a “but” when it comes to long-awaited continuations of Valve games?), as the description on Steam emphasizes in bolded capital letters, it is “Not Portal 3!“
Instead of a long-awaited follow-up to the iconic puzzle game, Aperture Desk Job is characterized as a “walking simulator” and playable short. You begin as a starry-eyed, entry-level employee of the game’s eponymous and cheerily dystopic corporation (which sorta kinda probably accidentally brought about the apocalypse), Aperture Science. While eager to jump-start your bright future climbing up the corporate ladder, though, everything is not as hunky-dory as it first seems.
Hilariously, the game’s Steam description contains several pleas for fans to abandon any high hopes before playing this extended universe title.
“Lower your expectations: This is not a sequel to Portal,” it cautions, reading more like a hostage negotiation than a description for a video game. “Desk Job puts you squarely in the driver’s seat at Aperture Science. Then quickly removes the driving part and adds a desk in front of the seat.”
Today, Valve is best known for Steam, the mega-popular online PC game store. But previously, the company was known for housing the game development team(s) behind such history-making, critically acclaimed franchises as Portal and Half-Life.
This isn’t the first time the gaming titan recently resurrected a legacy IP in a way no one wanted or asked for. In 2020, Valve released the not-Half–Life–3 virtual reality game Half-Life: Alyx after launching its Valve Index VR headset. While it’s not technically a Steam Deck exclusive — you just need a controller to play — Aperture Desk Job appears to be a case of Valve once again strategically using one of its beloved franchises to funnel fan fervor toward a new business venture.
The Steam Deck is already off to a good start as it launches, fortunately for Valve. But we suggest that Portal fans heed the company’s warning and temper expectations for Aperture Desk Job.