Aperture Tag Is A Whole New Portal Game… Without Portals

A Portal game without portals? “Why, that’s like removing puppies from the Puppy Bowl,” you might say. “What is even the point?” The point, fellow small dog enthusiast, is paint. Physics-affecting paints (think bouncy gel, etc) were part of Portal 2, but they weren’t the main focus. Paid standalone mod/game Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative puts them front and center, and it looks like sticky, slippery, hundreds-of-feet-in-the-air-hurtling fun. It’s out now, and a trailer’s below.

If this all-gels-no-portals business sounds familiar, that’ll be because it’s inspired by Tag: The Power of Paint. A puzzle-platformer about using different colour paints with special effects like running fast or across walls, it was created by students who then joined Valve to work on Portal 2.

Aperture Tag isn’t just a series of challenges. Its 27 levels come nicely bundled up in a new story with its own fully voice acted personality core. It’s technically a mod, so you’ll need to have Portal 2 installed to play it. However, it’s been given Valve’s oft-sought-after lambda of approval to carry a price tag, so it’ll run you $6.99 on Steam, though it’s currently on sale with 30% off that.

If you buy Aperture Tag, all of your dreams will come true or you will get these things. I forget which.

  • New Gameplay Mechanics for Portal 2
  • 27 Original Maps and a Full Campaign
  • A New Character with Original Voice-Acting
  • In-Game Level Editor
  • Single-Player and Co-op Workshop Integration with Source Instances to create your own Paint Gun Maps
  • Steam Trading Cards
  • Full Developer Commentary
  • Completely original Soundtrack by AbaraxHarry101UK, and Christopher McEvoy

It’s available on Steam. Ready to paint your own Sistine Chapel and then slide across it while bellowing, “wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”?


  1. Gamboni says:

    Wow, the reviews on Steam are devastatingly negative.

    • Carr0t says:

      I noticed that too. I was hoping for good things, as I actually quite enjoyed the Portal gel sections, and if this was a free mod i’d definitely give it a whirl, but all those negative reviews and so few positive ones (Hell, even the top positive one says that this is a 6/10 assuming Portal 2 is the gold standard 10/10) have made me hold off. Even for less than a fiver.

    • Dhruun says:


    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, and they punch it right in the most Portaly parts: puzzle design, writing, and voice acting are apparently all terrible.

    • Lemming says:

      I imagine it’s the shift from mod to something you pay for. With it comes a whole lot of critical eye, and rightly so. If it’d been a free mod, it would’ve been forgiven its foibles, I’m sure.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Seems like the only positive reviews were from people that worked on Aperture Tag, and those apparently got pulled (justifiably) because of consumer complaints. The irony.

    • phlebas says:

      Shame. The original Tag was a lot of fun.

      • Jalan says:

        I have to wonder if anyone involved with that (i.e. those working at Valve now) had been involved with this mod, would it have been getting the wealth of negative reviews and upset threads in its discussion hub? Certainly some people are going to be angry over “pay for a mod?! That’s outrageous!” no matter what but I wonder if the rest would be ready to forgive had it not been a cadre of individuals known for doing custom maps and textures/etc.

  2. Joshua says:

    I remmeber a while back that Valve had made a portal 2 without portals before they re-reviewed their design process.
    Is this that game?

    • Xocrates says:

      The “game” you’re talking about was an early iteration of Portal 2, and it’s unlikely it ever got very far.

      This is a mod for Portal 2, it wasn’t made by Valve, and has no relation to that early iteration.

    • Eukatheude says:

      F-stop? Apparently they’re keeping that design idea for some other game down the line.

  3. Robmonster says:

    I found the sections of Portal two with all the coloured gels to be the most irritating.

  4. Cinek says:

    The whole thing about gels/paint/however you call it was IMHO the worst part of Portal 2.
    And they made a game only about that o_O

    • Lemming says:

      I liked the gel stuff in Portal 2, because it was a change of pace. I did find those parts not quite as intuitive as the portal sections though. A lot of it felt like you were jizzing the stuff all over the room and hoping you got it on something useful.

      And in the game.

      • The Random One says:

        I, for one, think the one thing that ruined the gel sections were the portals. They’re what behind the whole jizzing you describe; you have to figure out how to transport the gel to the surface you need instead of just finding the right place to apply it to. You might say the two didn’t… gel.

  5. Skabooga says:

    Wow, I didn’t realize there was so much hate for the gel sections in Portal 2. One of my handful of favorite parts in the game was when you first encounter the speed-up gel, and you tentatively start gliding along it, and then everything starts zooming by, and this playful, beautiful trilling starts to overlay the music. It just felt so fun and unrestrained.