The Steam Deck (and the shinier, newer Steam Deck OLED) has become a constant PC gaming companion for our desktops. There are some games we'd now much rather play on the Deck, and sometimes we'd just rather be on the couch than sitting upright. In mid-2023 the Deck passed 10,000 Steam games marked either Verified or Playable, meaning they're a good experience on the gaming handheld, which is great. And that number keeps growing which is also great! But it is becoming harder and harder to decide what to play on it as the library swells.
What's not just good on the Deck, but great on the Deck? What should you absolutely play on the Steam Deck instead of the Nintendo Switch? Those are the recommendations we're making here. The best Steam Deck games are those ideally suited to portable gaming as well as the Steam Deck's flexible power and control options.
There's much more to handheld gaming than performance. The best games on Steam Deck need to be legible at 800p, work with a gamepad or touch screen—the less control mapping the better—and save some of that tight storage space for other games. Some of our picks are going to gobble up SSD or SD card space, but others we love on the Steam Deck partially because of how compact they are.
And yes, the best games for the Steam Deck should run smoothly. For action games recommendations, we generally want them to be able to run at 40-60 fps, while with other games like puzzlers can sip power at 30 fps and still be a great experience. Some of our favorite Deck games are ones that run at 60 fps on Valve's handheld but can't even hold a steady 30 fps on the aging Nintendo Switch.
Our selection of the best Steam Deck games is sorted by genre and personally tested on the Steam Deck by the PC Gamer crew. Look out for a star (⭐) next to late 2023 or 2024 games and any recent additions to the list, which we update every couple months.
Here's what we're playing on the Steam Deck right now, and recommend to anyone getting one of their own in the coming months.
The no-brainer Steam Deck games
Before we get into our more recent recommendations, here are the obvious, all-timer picks that belong on every Steam Deck. Chances are good you already have some or all of them installed, judging by Valve's monthly list of the most-played Deck games.
The best puzzle and adventure Steam Deck games
Chants of Sennaar - 601MB ⭐
Release: 2023 | Developer: Rundisc | Our review: N/A
A bit of a late 2023 sleeper hit, Chants of Sennar is a thoughtful puzzle game about language. Your journey will have you decipher the writing on a mysterious tower as you explore, learning to understand the characters you meet and symbols on well integrated puzzles. "Chants of Sennaar has made me feel like a kid again, eking out my play sessions over a month as if I'm a grade schooler waiting for my weekly computer lab visit, literally giddy with excitement about solving each of its vocabulary-based riddles," wrote editor Lauren Morton in our GOTY 2023 awards.
Cocoon - 2.12 GB
Release date: 2023 | Developer: Geometric Interactive | Our review: 90%
A gorgeous, clever new puzzle game that we were absolutely smitten with in our review: "Cocoon makes incredible meals of puzzles within vibrant worlds that could have adorned prog rock album covers, backed by moody synths that also could have blessed the vinyl inside. When you're pressing switches and activating bridges here, you're not simply pressing switches and activating bridges. Even the platform that responds to the zipper is actually an enormous flat robot bug that rears up and embeds its front claws in the canyon wall. In these and many other moments, Cocoon is properly, delightfully surreal."
Cocoon is Steam Deck Verified, and the kind of portable snack you can be finished with inside 10 hours.
World of Horror - 500MB
Release date: 2023 | Developer: panstasz | Our review: 85%
A truly unusual mix of roguelite and point & click adventure, World of Horror somehow manages to weave those very different things into an effectively creepy story generator. Short runs using remixed characters and nightmares and objectives keep things scary and unpredictable, while the black and white aesthetic really sets the mood. It's Verified on Steam Deck and one of our favorite horror games of 2023.
Dave the Diver - 10GB
Release date: 2022 | Developer: Terrible Toybox | Our review: 92%
This long-awaited revival of Monkey Island by creators Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman just immediately gives off good vibes. It's silly and lighthearted, a perfect tonal throwback to the old LucasArts adventure game era, with a new art style that's lovely in motion (still not sure how I feel about Guybrush's new nose, though). The interface is nicely built around controller or mouse support, so it plays naturally on the Deck with no fussing.
Pentiment - 10GB
Release date: 2022 | Developer: Obsidian | Our review: 88%
A gorgeous historical murder mystery set in and around a monastery in early 1500s Bavaria. Pentiment has roots in classic PC adventure games but is built to be completely playable on a controller and Deck verified, so you know it's going to work well here. Your time in Pentiment will be spent interviewing the locals to try to suss out a murder—when you're not losing yourself staring at the stunning fonts, anyway.
Dorfromantik - 650MB
Release date: 2021 | Developer: Toukana Interactive
This super minimal "puzzle" game is really more about quietly laying down tiles to make the most aesthetically pleasing bottle world you can. Dorfromantik requires little reading, so there's no issue with screen size. It also runs smoothly on the Steam Deck as it's not graphically intensive. A mid-2022 update added official Deck verification and controller support. And the fact the Deck is handheld means you can go find a nice quiet spot to chill out and build some peaceful, hex-based landscapes. So relaxing.
The best deckbuilding and strategy Steam Deck games
Cobalt Core - 500MB ⭐
Release: 2023 | Developer: Rocket Rat Games | Our review: 87%
A bit of FTL's ship management with Slay the Spire's superb deckbuilding, Cobalt Core somehow forges its own identity. You'll play cards to affect the positioning your ship and dodge attacks, and the meta progression will see you recruit new cute animal crew members and unlock ships that change how you play. Cobalt Core nails the roguelike essentials to become one of our new favorites, scoring an 87%.
Released: 2023 | Developer: Little Leo Games | Our review: 80%
This roguelike trades decks of cards for dice, and makes clever use of the variety that change allows for. As we wrote in our review, it's also a game of dramatic turns that demands and rewards smart planning, and has more up its sleeve than just dice: "Astrea hinges on an ingenious system called Virtues, abilities intrinsic to each character that become usable as you take Corruption damage. These abilities can sometimes drag you out of trouble (most characters have a ‘reroll’ virtue usable on any dice, including enemies), but they’re a reliable way of dealing damage, meaning that you’ll be whalloping yourself with a nasty die, firing off your Virtues, and healing back before the opponent has time to act."
Tactics Ogre: Reborn - 11.5GB
Release date: 2022 | Developer: Square Enix | Our review: 86%
The greatest strategy RPG of all time? Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is definitely in the running, and this 2022 remaster makes some big changes to its base to remove cruft from the corners of the experience. The dramatic, branching politically-driven story is left intact but gains voice acting, and a lot of the unit leveling and theorycrafting has been made less grindy. It's Deck verified, and dense enough to keep you busy until Square finally puts Final Fantasy Tactics on PC (even if that takes years).
Terra Nil - 2GB
Release date: 2023 | Developer: Free Lives | Our review: 80%
One of many chill puzzle games (or strategy? it's hard to decide where this one goes) we dig on the Deck. Terra Nil resembles a city builder, but with the goal of helping nature flourish and leaving it healthy and thriving without a whole bunch of man-made mess lying around. As we said in our review: "Turns out that restoring beauty and then tidying up is a surprisingly compelling loop for a game."
Into the Breach - 400MB
Release date: 2018 | Developer: Subset Games | Our review: 93%
Our 2018 GOTY, which got even better with a 2022 expansion. This one's very controller friendly, especially as the cursor snaps to the centre of each square it lands on. What little text there is can be read on a small screen, and there was no need for any special tweaking or Proton for it to work. Missions only take 10 or 15 minutes to complete, ideal for a quick session. Take advantage of that sleep button.
The best Steam Deck action games and platformers
Turnip Boy Robs a Bank - 1.16GB ⭐
Developer: Snoozy Kazoo | Release date: 2024 | Our review: 76%
Fresh off his stint committing tax evasion, Turnip Boy's back in the mischief zone in Robs a Bank, an rougelite shooter a bit in the vein of Vlambeer classic Nuclear Throne. It's a quick, simple game perfect for short Steam Deck runs, provided you're game to rob a bank as a naughty turnip over and over again. "When it came to taking down enemies and bosses, any fatigue I may have felt from the monotony of slashing at the same enemy in the same location for the tenth time came from Turnip Boy Robs a Bank's immaculate weapon variety," Mollie wrote in our review.
Pizza Tower - 300MB
Developer: Tour De Pizza | Release date: 2023 | Our review: 90%
Pizza Tower is platforming heaven, taking inspiration from Wario Land and 2D Sonic while also boasting a '90s Nickelodeon animation style and a soundtrack that has no right to sound this good. Seriously, bring headphones if you're playing it in public - you'll want to hear every track.
Hi-Fi Rush - 15.5GB
Developer: Tango Gameworks| Release date: 2023 | Our review: 69%
The surprise action hit of 2023, Hi-Fi Rush mixes the likes of Devil May Cry with a music rhythm game. It looks fantastic thanks to a bright cel-shaded art style and feels incredible to play, running at a smooth 60 fps even on the Steam Deck. Hi-Fi Rush pushes you to attack and dodge on the beat, but offers enough assistance that even the tone deaf among us can get into the rhythm.
Yakuza 0 - 24GB
Developer: Sega | Release date: 2018 | Our review: 90%
Our favorite of the classic Yakuza games and the place anyone experiencing the series for the first time should start. This brawler slash crime drama slash karaoke simulator runs at a verified 60 fps on the Steam Deck, with enough performance overhead to net you hours of battery life. The dream.
Release date: 2014 | Developer: Platinum Games | Our review: 80%
Don't tell Bayonetta, but this may be Platinum's finest action game. Given a katana that can cut literally anything in half and a parry system that uses the same button as attacking, and Rising is just nonstop sword swinging, frantic in the best way. It's Deck verified and with some settings tweaks can run at a stable almost-60 fps. For smoother performance, try capping the Deck's refresh rate at 59 fps (which is the framerate Revengeance runs at, for some reason).
The best Steam Deck role playing games
Persona 3 Reload - 22.5GB ⭐
Released: 2024 | Developer: Atlus | Our review: 89%
This full-on remake of the Persona game that established the series it is today: a mix of dungeon crawling and feverishly compulsive high school life sim. The remake brings Persona 3 up to Persona 5's level of graphical polish, but more importantly gives its battle system a needed kick of depth with new abilities built around the dynamics of your party. No matter how much time you spend in battle, you'll probably spend twice as much time thinking about how to spend your school days and which characters to hang with to watch their stories unfold. My advice: try the night club.
Diablo 4 - 85GB
Released: 2023 | Developer: Blizzard | Our review: 85%
Diablo 4's arrival on Steam makes it a shoe-in as a Steam Deck time-waster, especially as it's Verified on the Deck. We had plenty of criticisms of Diablo 4 at launch, and the game's first season didn't go over well with the community, but season 2 has been a welcome reversal, making rare loot drop from the heavens and fixing just about all of our complaints. If you like to spend an hour or two grinding for gear while watching TV, Diablo 4 and the Deck are a good combo.
Etrian Odyssey 3 HD - 2.4GB
Released: 2023 | Developer: Atlus
The best of Atlus's HD remasters of a beloved dungeon crawling series, Etrian Odyssey 3 is a pure nuts & bolts RPG packed with interesting character classes to assemble into a party as you see fit. If you haven't played too many dungeon crawlers since, say, Legend of Grimrock 2 (also Deck Verified!) this is a great one. The interface takes a bit of getting used to as it was originally designed for the Nintendo DS's two screens, but some automapping options and the ability to use the touchscreen or controller inputs to plop icons on the dungeon map to mark your progress keep the learning curve pretty shallow. Just watch out for the FOEs lurking out there in the dungeon waiting to turn you to pulp.
Disco Elysium - 20GB
Release date: 2019 | Developer: ZA/UM | Our review: 92%
Almost entirely voice-acted, this game requires you only to read your responses and some menu stuff, though the text may be a little small for some. Still, the game runs perfectly well without Proton's intervention, and works great with a controller. In fact there's an excuse to play around with the touch screen here as well if you fancy. It's not the smallest install, but it is, you know, the best PC game, period.
Elden Ring - 50GB
We spent a good while testing whether Elden ring works on the Steam Deck, and were happy when Valve deployed a version of Proton that cut out most of the frame drop issues players were experiencing in the beginning. This is also one game many prefer playing with a controller. It's a little larger than we'd normally recommend for the Deck, but it's also a vast RPG, and one of those games that really hits the "I can't believe this runs on the Steam Deck" pleasure center.
The best party/co-op Steam Deck games
Valheim - 1GB
Release date: 2021 | Developer: Iron Gate AB | Our review: Unscored
Not only is this a tiny install, considering it's open world, it's also pretty great with a controller, particularly as there are so many options for assigning your hotbar items. We suggest following these steps to make Valheim look spectacular. As long as you're somewhere with a stable internet connection, I wholly recommend joining your friends for some Viking shenanigans.
The best life, colony and management sims on Steam Deck
Cult of the Lamb - 1GB
Release date: 2022 | Developer: Massive Monster | Our review: 82%
Is Cult of the Lamb a sim? An action game? A dungeon crawling roguelike? Uh... yes, to all of the above. Part base builder, part actioner, this cutesy occult game is like "Animal Crossing if Tom Nook craved power instead of money," according to our reviewer. Dungeons provide the action in between building up a society for your newfound worshippers. Outside of some small text, it's a great Deck game, and got a saucy update titled "Sins of the Flesh" in early 2024.
Roots of Pacha - 600MB
Release date: 2023 | Developer: Soda Den
Slow paced and perfect with a controller, farming sims are some of the best games for the Steam Deck. This I've picked over Stardew because it's everything I wanted and more—please don't hate me—but Stardew works just as well. Games like this take up very little space, won't drain your battery, and are great for short, casual drop in gaming sessions.
Super Mega Baseball 4 - 16 GB
Release date: 2023 | Developer: Metalhead Studios
Really, take your pick from any of the Super Mega Baseball games, because they're all great and perfect for the Deck. The controls are nice and arcadey but there's plenty of depth to the management and player development systems. And since MLB The Show refuses to set foot on PC, it's not like there are a whole lot of other on-field baseball game options.
Legend Bowl - 412 MB
Release: 2021 | Developer: Super Pixel Games
The pixel graphics may put you in mind of a throwback like Tecmo Bowl, but this is an extremely modern game with loads of management, customization, and simulation systems. It's easy to learn the basics but mastering the deep controls will take a while.
Football Manager 2023 - 5GB
Release date: 2022 | Developer: Sports Interactive | Our review: 80%
Not my kind of game personally, but my boss says it works great on the Deck with no controller or other compatibility issues. Maybe that's why I haven't seen him in a few weeks... It's not a super graphically intensive game, and it fits into the 'not ridiculous' category as far as the file size goes. Why not give it a shot (pun intended)?
Euro Truck Simulator 2 - 7GB
Release date: 2012 | Developer: SCS Software | Our review: 85%
Messing around with the Steam Deck's gyro in Euro Truck Sim is one day I'll never forget. Finally I felt like the truck driver I'd always dreamed of becoming. Beep beep.
Jokes aside, it runs really well on Deck and doesn't need any special treatment graphics-wise. It's also not a huge game, provided you don't overload your haul with DLCs.