Valve Releases 'Aperture Hand Lab' Demo for Its New VR Headset


Valve today released their previously teased VR game that aims to not only put you through your paces with your brand new Valve Index controllers, but directly in the familiar halls of Portal’s Aperture Science labs.

Developed by VR studio Cloudhead Games and published by Valve, Aperture Hand Lab is aimed at the Valve Index headset and its finger-tracking controllers, which arrive on users’ doorsteps starting this week. The demo experience also technically includes support for HTC Vive, although this is because the Index controllers can be used with any headset that uses SteamVR base stations. You’ll need Index controllers to play, as they provide the five-finger tracking that the experience is built around.

According to the game’s Steam page, the single-player experience also requires at least 2 × 1.5 meters of room to play, so make sure to clear some space when the big day arrives.

If you can’t wait to get an idea of what it’s all about (we have a hands-on video below too), the short game passes you through several tests administered by a number of ‘personality cores’, the very same as seen in Valve’s landmark VR demo The Lab (2016). Each of the cores give you a different gesture to accomplish to move on, but Cloudhead says that they can also react to different hand gestures too, reacting differently when you give them the middle finger, devil horns, etc.

Cloudhead Games is probably best known for their ongoing VR series The Gallery, the first of which was a launch title for the HTC Vive back in 2016. You might also know them for their early work on VR teleportation as a locomotion standard in VR games. Back then, trying to find a nausea-free locomotion standard was still a big topic of conversation, and Cloudhead made some smart choices that are still in wide use today.

While Valve is listed as a publisher of the experience, Valve actually provided Cloudhead with Portal assets, something art director Anthony Hackett calls “sort of like Christmas.” Valve also included original audio, which Cloudhead ‘beefed up’ to make good use of the new Index headphones.

Valve writers Jay Pinkerton and Erik Wolpaw were also on hand to help refine the game’s narrative elements and keep it squarely within the Portal universe.

Check out our hands-on (pardon the pun) below:

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