Valve didn't just start shipping the Steam Deck this week (some were even delivered by Gabe Newell himself). It also released a game to teach you how to use the Steam Deck's controls. It's a short game that takes maybe 30 minutes to play, and here's two bits of good news: It's great, and you don't even need a Steam Deck to play it.
Aperture Desk Job is now out on Steam for free, and as long as you have a controller you can play it right on your desktop. And you should! Despite being just a tutorial on how the Steam Deck's sticks and buttons work, it's packed with jokes, references, explosions, and best of all, new Aperture Science lore.
As a new hire at Aperture Science, your job is to test toilets. That's it. Just toilets. You're walked through the basics by a chatty personality core named Grady, voiced by one of my favourite stand-up comics, Nate Bargatze, who openly admits you have the worst job at Aperture. Pressing buttons fills the toilet tank with water, tests the seat's structural endurance with a cushion, sprays a festive bidet-like fountain, and flushes. That's all you have to do. Test toilets. One after the other. Get to work.
But this isn't a standard toilet factory, this is the ultra hazardous Aperture Science Lab where things can quickly go wrong. And they do. A small mishap involving Grady, a malfunctioning toilet, and a pipe full of live ammunition leads to a great idea for a new Aperture product: the weaponized toilet. Grady wants to develop the idea and present it to Cave Johnson, Aperture's founder, and you have more than just four buttons on your controller so you might as well put them to use. And you can definitely trust Grady! When has an Aperture personality core ever done you wrong?
Even in just 30 minutes there's a lot of laughs packed into Aperture Desk Job, plenty of action (your toilets aren't the only weaponized appliances in the building), a bizarre subplot involving praying mantises, a surprising number of callback jokes, and no small amount of Aperture Science lore to absorb as you take your new invention to the boss's office. It's fun to mess around, too—when prompted to push a particular button, I didn't, leading to lots of lines from Grady I would have otherwise missed.
Now if Valve would just actually make Portal 3, maybe we could get a game with just as much humor and fun that lasts more than a half-hour.