The best Steam Deck games

The Steam Deck and its shiny new OLED variant are our favorite additions to PC gaming in years. They're perfect for those games we don't want to sit at our desks and play, and with Verified/Playable support for more than 10,000 games in the Steam library, there are maybe too many options to choose from. More games are getting Verified for the Steam Deck every day, which only makes it trickier to decide what to actually cozy up on the couch with.

What games aren't just good on the Steam Deck, but great on the Steam Deck? What are the absolute best Steam Deck games you should rebuy even if you already own them on the Nintendo Switch, where they run at 30 fps instead of 60 fps? 

Our selection of the best Steam Deck games focuses on those that are ideally suited to portable play, either because they're great in short bursts, work extremely well with the Deck's flexible controls, or offer a better experience than you'll find on other handhelds.

Best of the best

Baldur's Gate 3 - Jaheira with a glowing green sword looks ready for battle

(Image credit: Larian Studios)

2024 games: Upcoming releases
Best PC games: All-time favorites
Free PC games: Freebie fest
Best FPS games: Finest gunplay
Best MMOs: Massive worlds
Best RPGs: Grand adventures

Sometimes that's about performance, as mentioned in comparison to the aging Switch. But that's not all that matters when it comes to handheld gaming. For a game to work well on the Deck, it needs to be legible at 800p. It has to work with a gamepad or touch screen and ideally doesn't take up gobs of space. Some of our favorites are storage hogs, but most are more compact installs.

If we're recommending an action game for the Steam deck, we want it to be able to run at 40-60 fps, but we're less picky with puzzle games that can sip power at 30 fps without hampering the play experience.

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 2024 games and 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

Animal Well - 34MB ⭐

(Image credit: Bigmode)

Release: 2023 | Developer: Billy Basso | Our review: 90%

We called Animal Well a "sleep-destroying puzzle metroidvania of baffling depth" in our review, praising its eerie atmosphere and clever design that slowly unfolds as you explore. Not only is your arsenal of items particularly unique—you'll find yourself utilizing a slinky and a yo-yo instead of the usual gamey upgrades—there's little combat in Animal Well, making it a notably different sort of adventure than Hollow Knight. But there's so much to find once you've "finished" the game.

As we said in our review: "It's rare for a game that hints towards fathomless depths to so continually reward curious prodding—especially when that game is under 50 megabytes!—but Animal Well, like Fez, Spelunky and Hollow Knight before it, feels like it could be a concern for years to come."

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes - 1.2GB ⭐

(Image credit: Annapurna)

Release: 2024 | Developer: Simogo | Our review: 89%

"Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is an eclectic, puzzle-filled, haunted-mansion mystery thriller," our 89% review begins, before calling it a contender for 2024's game of the year. Big words, but this indie developer's first game, Sayonara Wild Hearts, was also beloved. Lorelei and the Laser Eyes is a very different sort of game, but we loved puzzling our way through its haunted hotel, which holds all sorts of secrets and surprises: "The most delightful of these moments were when new puzzles introduced not just new mechanics, but whole new perspectives. The game is filled with 3D puzzle boxes, safes, art installations, and mazes that warp the actual gameplay."

Chants of Sennaar - 601MB

(Image credit: rundisc)

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

Cocoon game art

(Image credit: Geometric Interactive)

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.

Pentiment - 10GB

An image from Pentiment showing the monks discovering the noble's body.

(Image credit: Obsidian)

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.

The best deckbuilding and strategy Steam Deck games

Balatro - 63MB ⭐

(Image credit: LocalThunk)

Release: 2024 | Developer: LocalThunk | Our review: 91%

A poker-themed deckbuilder from a game developer who doesn't play poker... or deckbuilders? It's just crazy enough to work. One of our favorite games of 2024, Balatro "is an absolute triumph" and the reason Valve should rename the Steam Deck "the Balatro machine," according to our review. The game cleverly uses the clear, easily understood symbols of poker, and particularly jokers, to create a deckbuilder around the idea of cheating and ridiculously escalating card values, until you're putting together hands worth millions. It's now up there in the pantheon of deckbuilding greats alongside Slay the Spire and Monster Train.

Cobalt Core - 500MB

A spaceship football game in Cobalt Core.

(Image credit: Rocket Rat Games)

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%.

Tactics Ogre: Reborn - 11.5GB

Tactics Ogre

(Image credit: Future - jorge jimenez)

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).

Into the Breach - 400MB

Into the Breach

(Image credit: Subset Games)

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

Hades 2 - 4GB ⭐

(Image credit: Tyler C. / Supergiant Games)

Developer: Supergiant | Release date: 2024

We are so back.

Back in the underworld, I mean, trying to escape it—this time as princess Melinoë, younger sister of Zagreus. Though Hades 2 is currently in early access, it launched with as much or more stuff in it than Hades had at 1.0, making this an easy recommendation to play right now. It's also different from the first game in some notable ways, including Melinoë's movement style and abilities and some of the weapons at her disposal. Supergiant didn't just make this a purely additive sequel, then, but wanted it to feel distinct from the original to keep things fresh. It's going to take some getting used to if you've put a hundred hours into Hades, but something tells me it'll win over all the skeptics before long.

Pepper Grinder - 150MB ⭐

(Image credit: Ahr Ech)

Developer: Ahr Ech, MP2 Games | Release date: 2024 | Our review: 80%

What a strong year for high concept platformers, between 3D gems like Yellow Taxi Goes Vroom (no jump button!) and Penny's Big Breakaway (yo-yo moves!) and Pepper Grinder (drill power!) standing out from the 2D field. As we wrote in our review, "Pepper drills through dirt a little faster than you’d like, demanding quick reflexes to move in something close enough to the direction you wanted to go, or at least a route that ideally doesn’t end in certain death. This is all completely by design, of course, and gradually mastering such a joyously unwieldy method of navigation makes for a terrific little platformer."

Pizza Tower - 300MB

A screenshot of Pizza Tower where Peppino is fighting The Noise.

(Image credit: Tour De Pizza)

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

Hi-Fi Rush screenshot

(Image credit: Tango Gameworks)

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

Kiryu flashes some cash

(Image credit: Sega)

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.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance - 25GB

metal gear rising revengeance

(Image credit: Konami)

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 ⭐

(Image credit: Atlus)

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

(Image credit: Tyler C. / Blizzard)

Released: 2023 | Developer: Blizzard | Our review: 85%

Diablo 4's arrival on Steam made 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 was 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.

Sorry about that install size, though.

Etrian Odyssey 3 HD - 2.4GB

(Image credit: Sega Atlus)

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

Disco Elysium's detective lying on the floor

(Image credit: ZA/UM)

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

Elden Ring magic

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Release date: 2022 | Developer:  FromSoftware Inc. | Our review: 90%

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

Valheim Viking giving thumbs up

(Image credit: Iron Gate Studios)

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

Cult of the Lamb

(Image credit: Devolver Digital)

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. 

Sports/Driving games

Super Mega Baseball 4 - 16 GB

(Image credit: Metalhead Software)

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

(Image credit: Level Ready)

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.

Super Video Golf - 392MB

(Image credit: Trederia)

Release date: 2023 | Developer: Trederia

Great to play with friends, against CPU opponents, or alone: Super Video Golf is a '90s themed golf game with loads of courses, modes, and challenges. It's extremely chill, lightweight in terms of size and performance, and there's Steam workshop support for even more customization options than it already has. A great golf game and perfect for your Deck.

Football Manager 2023 - 5GB

(Image credit: Sports Interactive)

Release date: 2022 | Developer: Sports Interactive | Our review: 80%

Not my kind of game personally, but PCG hardware boss Dave James 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)? 

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).

With contributions from