From the developer of Kine, Lab Rat is an upcoming block-pushing puzzle game that places you in a series of procedurally generated tests controlled by an AI. It sounds a little like Portal, and the devs at Chump Squad know it, but instead of mocking humans at every given opportunity, the game is instead designed to satirise other games and genres. You can try out a little bit of it now too before it releases next year, as applications are open to get into Lab Rat's closed beta.
Lab Rat is a block-pusher (or sokoban) in which your little character will puzzle their way through a series of rooms. After you finish each one, an AI named SARA will poll you for feedback, before making a new room for you to dive into.
In an interview with the game's director (and voice of the AI) Gwen Frey, she told me that they know Lab Rat is going to be compared to Portal, so they leaned into it by writing in a puzzle themed around it. Overall, Lab Rat has a different tone to Portal though, going for a less snarky and more realistic approach to how tech interacts with people.
"In reality, technology isn't like Portal. Glados is a character that's got a personality - she's mean, she's satirical. Actual technology is pretending to be extremely nice: it's friendly, it's doing everything for your benefit," Frey said. "Technology is polling you because it wants to help you make your life better. I think something is far more insidious, and kind of evil, if it presents itself as being really friendly."
You can see a little bit of this in the new trailer above, where SARA believes she is bonding with her human test subject. Things get strange, however, after SARA gets access to the internet and begins making puzzles that are references to all sorts of things - from film noir, to riffs on RPG mechanics.
"There's so many of these little absurd things in video games," Frey told me. "So we thought, how do we make them into a puzzle?"
Lab Rat is set to release next year on PC via Steam and Xbox. If you fancy trying it out, you can sign up to the closed beta right here (as long as you're someone who "works well with others" and "doesn't see electric shocks as an obstacle").