With the month of Unpacking concluded and its rude boyfriend symbolically vanquished, I’ve been put in charge of choosing the next RPS Game Club game. And seeing how about 40% of what I write about is related to the Steam Deck, I thought it’d be nice if we took a break from that and chatted about something completely – ahaha no, just kidding it’s totally gonna be Aperture Desk Job.
A Portal prequel without the portals, Aperture Desk Job is a “playable short” that casts you as an entirely desk-bound testing lackey in a functional, if still largely awful, Aperture Science. On your first shift, a toilet breaks, setting off a chain reaction of hijinks that ends up cutting surprisingly deep into the existing Portal mythos. You even get a pre-Wheatley personality sphere as your line manager, played brilliantly by comedian Nate Bargatze.
This writer obviously likes it – it’s the first name in our best Steam Deck games guide, and it’s one of the two games I use for microSD card testing. But despite literally being designed to help new Deck owners get to grips with their gadget’s buttons and pads, there’s more to Aperture Desk Job than being a handheld PC tutorial. Besides its ultra-efficient comedy scripting, memorable voice performances, and the fact that it’s our first official (and non-VR) visit to the Half-Life universe in a decade, ADJ is just a silly amount of fun to play. To explain what the initial button-matching tasks escalate into would be unacceptable spoilering, but it shows that Valve games still have the capacity to surprise. And that they should make more.
Also, you don’t actually need a Steam Deck to play. Aperture Desk Job handles just fine on a regular controller, and since it’s completely free and only takes about half an hour to see to the end, I’d say that’s a pretty good recipe for a Game Club game. You can grab it on Steam if you haven’t already.
On our end, we’ll be spending August writing some special articles on Aperture Desk Job, before reconvening – along with you, hopefully! – for a free-flowing liveblog chat at the end of the month. Don’t go anywhere… seriously, don’t go anywhere. Leaving the desk is forbidden during testing hours.