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The Lab

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The Lab


Release date(s)

April 5, 2016


Technology demonstration






HTC Vive headset, Valve's Lighthouse


Source 2



"Hello, Test Traveler, and welcome to the Aperture Science Sub-Universe Exploration Center. This is the Aperture Science Face-Mounted Portal Sphere. It is your gateway to a vast continuum of undiscovered worlds. Full mega disclosure: These undiscovered worlds may also contain undiscovered spiders, poisons, acid and apex predators that hunt humans for sport."
Lab Announcer

The Lab is a compilation of 8 virtual reality experiments / mini-games developed by Valve and other companies. It was announced on March 7, 2016[1] and released on April 5, 2016 on Steam for free.


Bendies and the first Aperture Science Face-Mounted Portal Sphere at the game's start.

The Lab, set in Pocket Universe Lab 08, one of the many Aperture Science pocket universes, begins in the Aperture Science Sub-Universe Exploration Center which serves as a hub, and where Bendies are seen working nearby. The player, described as a Test Traveler, is instructed by the female Lab Announcer and can access all of the mini-games from here. They can also interact with objects gathered from each game after completion.

Each mini-game is accessed through a themed station with its associated Aperture Science Face-Mounted Portal Sphere that the player must place near their head to teleport to the game's location. Each station has a clipboard that gives a short summary of the experiment, its scientific name, and various comments. The hub also includes a whiteboard on which the game progression is displayed, with various colored markers and an eraser that the player can use to draw and write.

Lab Practicum from the Half-Life 2 soundtrack is used for the loading screens.



Experiment name Description Comments
Euclid-Spectrum Each postcard traverses to a different location from around the world. Move the plug to select which location you will be sent to.

Choosing the destination from a selection of postcards, the player can teleport to digital versions of real-world locations including Vesper Peak in the Washington state, U.S.A., Campo S. Beneto in Venice, Italy, the Raufarhólshellir lava tube in Iceland, and the Snæfellsjökull National Park, also in Iceland. These areas were created using photogrammetry. In these locations, the player can interact with Fetchbot, a robot dog character: scratch its belly and play fetch with the various sticks found on the ground.


Experiment name Description Comments
Armstrong-Gamma Outputs to a Core Calibration slingshot, which can be used to recklessly destroy an Aperture Science Storage Annex. N/A

Set in an Aperture Storage Annex, the player takes the part of a Core Calibration Trainee whose job is to calibrate Personality Cores in the Core Calibration Unit. The unit is a slingshot overlooking a storage area and near a conveyor belt, and with its height being adjustable for that of the player. The aim is to destroy all of the storage units by throwing cores into them, in a fashion similar to the video game Angry Birds. The amount of damage done is displayed in dollars on a monitor, and each time the damage threshold is reached, new cores are deployed. The game always ends by the player getting fired from the job, whether all the cores have been depleted or all the storage units have been destroyed.

During the course of the mini-game, 32 different Cores can be placed into the slingshot.


Experiment name Description Comments
Ascham-Vector Connects to a castle under siege, where archery skills must defend against a rampagning horde. - Wait, isn't that a recurve bow?
Shut up, Daryl.

The player must use a longbow to defend their castle against 8 waves of a horde of Bendies. The player loses when the horde was able to break the castle's gate. Targets and balloons can also be hit. The bow can be then used in the hub on the surrounding objects and the Bendies working nearby. At the mini-game's station in the hub, Machiavellian Bach from the Portal 2 soundtrack is played.

Xortex 26XX[edit]

Experiment name Description Comments
Zennick-Omega Uplinks to a drone fighter capable of maneuvering through a hail of enemy fire as it shoots down attackers. Pew pew pew!

Xortex 26XX is a shoot 'em up / bullet hell video game whose station is an 80s-themed arcade cabinet. It consists of controlling a drone fighter to fight 4 waves of attacking drones, with a final mothership boss. The cabinet itself features a block-breaking game that can be played with the stick. The blocks to destroy are the names of the developers; the final boss is the Tracer Core also featured in the Slingshot mini-game.

Secret Shop[edit]

Experiment name Description Comments
Razzil-Boron Leads to a storehouse filled with magical artifacts we believe are most commonly used to defend ancients. Shh!

Set in the Secret Shop from Dota 2, the player is greeted by the Shopkeeper and can explore and interact with the objects in the shop. The playthrough ends when Roshan breaks into the shop from the roof.

The description from the clipboard refers to what Dota is the acronym for, Defense of the Ancients.

Robot Repair[edit]

Experiment name Description Comments
Johnson-Micro Traverses to Aperture Science, where a damaged AT-D7796 robot requires assistance. So that's what happened to Lab 44.
Main article: Aperture Robot Repair

Same as the Robot Repair demo released on February 22, 2016. It is the only demo that uses the Source 2 engine.

Solar System[edit]

Experiment name Description Comments
Brahe-Quark Relic emits a portrayal of the solar system with all planets in their correct relative scale. - And relative orbital distances?
- You probably don't to walk that far.

The player can interact with the planets in the solar system. The planets can be used as balls and be thrown all over the area or against each other. Throwing all planets into the sun makes it collapse into a white dwarf.

Human Body Scan[edit]

Experiment name Description Comments
Kaczmarz-Radon Seems to lead to an explorable three dimensional model of the human form. Three dimensional bodies? Impossible!

Also known as Human Medical Scan in the game's Steam store page. There the player can observe a detailed human body model made from a series of CT medical scans.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Combine Soldier in a City 17 street in Shooter.

As explained in The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx, a ninth mini-game, titled Shooter, was cut from The Lab, for fears of it not reaching completion for the time of The Lab’s release. It was to be set in a theme park-like simulation of City 17, the main setting of the Half-Life series from Half-Life 2 onward. It is described as a simple arcade-style shot-em-up - a series of quick in-universe gunplay scenes where one plays as an unknown member of the Resistance. Further attempts at a Half-Life VR game eventually led to making Half-Life: Alyx.[2]


External links[edit]