The best Steam Deck games

A year into the Steam Deck's life, it puts the average console's game lineup to shame. You can't beat the PC for backwards compatibility, and Steam has become a truly massive collection of PC games over the last two decades. Valve's ambition is to get every Steam game running on the Steam Deck, and while we're not there yet, there are more than 8,000 games verified for the Steam Deck, and many more that are perfectly playable. 

In our experience, there have also been tons of games Valve hasn't tested that work just fine on the Deck. More often than not, when we try a game it just works. That's great, but between the Verified list and the rest of your Steam library at your fingertips, it can be overwhelming deciding what to play. What's not just good, but great, on the Steam Deck?

We've narrowed our recommendations to the games we've had the most fun with on the Steam Deck—the best Steam Deck games are suited to portable gaming and the Steam Deck's flexible power and control options.

Best of the best

Elden Ring Knight looking at camera

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

2023 games: Upcoming releases
Best PC games: All-time favorites
Free PC games: Freebie fest
Best FPSes: Finest gunplay
Best MMOs: Massive worlds
Best RPGs: Grand adventures

Here's the main takeaway that other portable PCs have missed: 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. And yes, the best games for the Steam Deck should run smoothly, ideally at more than 30 fps. Some of our favorite Deck games are ones that run far better on Valve's handheld than the aging Nintendo Switch.

Our selection of the best Steam Deck games have been sorted by genre, or tag for convenience, and personally tested on the Steam Deck by the PC Gamer crew.

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-brainers

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.

Deckbuilders and strategy games

Tactics Ogre: Reborn (opens in new tab) - 11.5GB

Tactics Ogre

(Image credit: Future - jorge jimenez)

Release date: 2022 | Developer: Square Enix | Our review: 86% (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab) - 2GB

Terra Nil

(Image credit: Devolver Digital)

Release date: 2023 | Developer: Free Lives | Our review: 80% (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab) - 400MB

Into the Breach

(Image credit: Subset Games)

Release date: 2018 | Developer: Subset Games | Our review: 93% (opens in new tab)

Our 2018 GOTY, which got even better (opens in new tab) 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.

Dome Keeper (opens in new tab) - 857MB

A close-up of the dome in Dome Keeper

(Image credit: Bippinbits)

Release date: 2022 | Developer: Bippinbits | Our review: 80% (opens in new tab)

2022's Loop Hero? This compact roguelike forces you to gather resources to protect your fragile glass dome from waves of monsters while making painful choices between different upgrade options to keep yourself alive. A compulsive "one more run" game with some lovely pixel art and an install size you'll barely notice on your Deck's SSD.

Stacklands (opens in new tab) - 200MB  

Stacklands village building card game

(Image credit: Sokpop)

Release date: 2022 | Developer: Sokpop Collective

This is one game that'll give you an excuse to play around with the touch screen, and that aspect works without a hitch unlike some of the games I've tested. It may be a little intense on a small screen, particularly once your spread expands into the whole play area, but it's a great little game to take around with you to pass some time. It also doesn't take up any space at all.

Puzzle and adventure games

Pentiment (opens in new tab) - 10GB

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

(Image credit: Obsidian)

Release date: 2022 | Developer: Obsidian | Our review: 88% (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab), anyway.

Dorfromantik (opens in new tab) - 650MB

A countryside scene made of hexagonal tiles from the game Dorfromantik.

(Image credit: Toukana Interactive)

Release date: 2021 | Developer: Toukana Interactive

This is a super minimal game "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.

Portal 2 (opens in new tab) - 8GB

Portal 2

(Image credit: Valve)

Release date: 2011| Developer: Valve | Our review: 94% (opens in new tab)

It goes without saying that games made by Valve should run well on a gaming handheld by the same company. Being fully voice-acted and with no inventory to manage, Portal 2's a perfect game for the Deck (as is the original). Both work great with a controller, and are relatively slow paced so you'll feel comfortable pausing it whenever, rather than making the doctor wait while you finish this level. You may need to tweak the controls or use a community layout but otherwise it runs smooth as anything. 

Manifold Garden (opens in new tab) - 3GB

A scene from Manifold Garden.

(Image credit: William Chyr)

Release date: 2019 | Developer: William Chyr Studio | Our review: 85% (opens in new tab)

With no intense graphics and a tiny file size, this peaceful puzzle platformer is great on the Deck. It worked without Proton, and the controls lend themselves really well to the gamepad. There's also no menu system to worry about, same as many puzzle platformers, so no issues with reading small text. Just pure Euclidian bliss. 

Fez (opens in new tab) - 500MB

Fez main character looking excited.

(Image credit: Polytron)

Release date: 2012 | Developer: Phil Fish | Our review: 90% (opens in new tab)

I've always felt like Fez would be better on handheld, and I was right. A tiny game like this really doesn't warrant turning on a full gaming rig, and yet it's rich and engaging enough to want to play everywhere you go while also being relatively slow paced, so you can put it down at any moment and pick it back up when you get time.

Sable (opens in new tab) - 3GB

Climbing the side of a mountain with a grand bridge on the horizon.

(Image credit: Shedworks)

Release date:  2021 | Developer: Shedworks | Our review: 93% (opens in new tab)

A super controller-friendly game that runs smoothly on the Steam Deck owing to its simple, cel-shaded graphics. Not only will a long session not eat too much into your battery, it'll also leave a heck of a lot of space for other games, with how small the files are. Not like there are many textures here to eat into your storage space. 

What Remains of Edith Finch (opens in new tab) - 5GB

(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

Release date: 2017 | Developer: Giant Sparrow | Our review: 91% (opens in new tab)

This is one of the first games I downloaded for the Steam Deck; since walking sims are quite slow paced, you can jump in and out as you like and they often don't take up heaps of space. I didn't have to mess around with the controls for this one and didn't need to turn on Proton. 

Firewatch (opens in new tab) -  4GB

(Image credit: Campo Santo)

Release date: 2016| Developer: Campo Santo | Our review: 85% (opens in new tab)

Another story-driven game that lends itself really well to use with a controller. The relaxed pace and bold, chunky art are a good match for chilling with the Deck. The menu text is a good size and the graphics aren't hugely intensive either. Not to mention its minimal file size.

Action games and platformers

Pizza Tower (opens in new tab) - 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% (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab) - 15.5GB

Hi-Fi Rush screenshot

(Image credit: Tango Gameworks)

Developer: Tango Gameworks| Release date: 2023 | Our review: 69% (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab) - 24GB

Kiryu flashes some cash

(Image credit: Sega)

Developer: Sega | Release date: 2018 | Our review: 90% (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab) - 25GB

metal gear rising revengeance

(Image credit: Konami)

Release date: 2014 | Developer: Platinum Games | Our review: 80% (opens in new tab)

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).

Cuphead (opens in new tab) - 4GB

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

(Image credit: Studio MDHR)

Release date: 2019 | Developer: Studio MDHR | Our review: 86% (opens in new tab)

Cuphead may be a little intense to play in public, but there's no reason not to have this one downloaded considering how small the file size is. It works great with a controller, more so than with a keyboard, in fact, and it's not graphically intensive enough to need any tweaks. Just make sure you don't give it to someone with a tendency to throw controllers in frustration. 

Role playing games

Disco Elysium (opens in new tab) - 20GB

Disco Elysium's detective lying on the floor

(Image credit: ZA/UM)

Release date:  2019 | Developer: ZA/UM | Our review: 92% (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab).

Persona 5 Royal (opens in new tab) - 39GB

Persona 5 Royal

(Image credit: SEGA)

Release date: 2022 | Developer: Atlus | Our review: 94% (opens in new tab)

We pined for it for years, and Atlus's beloved RPG series finally made its way to PC, first with Persona 4, and then with the latest in the series, the hyper stylish Persona 5. It's truly a perfect pairing with the Steam Deck: it's an incredibly long game, with dialogue sequences you may not particularly want to sit at your PC to read through. A sleep button comes in very handy during hours long dungeon crawls, too. Since Persona 5 was originally a cross-gen PS3/PS4 game, it also runs comfortably on the Deck's hardware. If you're going to play one epic JRPG on the Deck, make it this one.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 (opens in new tab) - 64GB

Divinity: Original Sin 2 character

(Image credit: Larian)

Release date: 2017 | Developer: Larian Studios | Our review: 92% (opens in new tab)

It's a little larger than some of the games on this list, but Divinity: Original Sin 2 is fully verified for the Deck. The system requirements are minimal, so it runs pretty smoothly, though since it's a turn based game it's probably worth switching the frame cap down to 30fps to save on battery. Still, I got a good few hours out of it with everything on default settings. It's great with a controller and fully voice-acted so you only really have to read tooltips and your own responses. There is a way to scale the UI, but finding it in the Linux OS is a bit of a pain. 

Final Fantasy 7 Remake (opens in new tab) - 94GB

Cloud mopes

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Release date: 2021 | Developer: Square Enix | Our review: 88% (opens in new tab)

Okay, this is a ridiculously huge game for the Steam Deck, we can't deny that. But considering how good it looks, it runs remarkably well (though you will want to install a small mod to disable its stutter-causing automatic resolution scaling (opens in new tab)). You can smoothly play this RPG at 40 fps on the Steam Deck, which would be impossible on the Switch. Heck, even the PS4 ran it at a locked 30 fps. It's big, bombastic, and has some pretty great action combat built for a controller.

Elden Ring (opens in new tab) - 50GB

Elden Ring magic

(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Release date: 2022 | Developer:  FromSoftware Inc. | Our review: 90% (opens in new tab)

We spent a good while testing whether Elden ring works on the Steam Deck, and can confirm that Valve has deployed a version of Proton that cuts 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.

Party/co-op games

Meet Your Maker (opens in new tab) - 7GB

Meet Your Maker screen

(Image credit: Behaviour Interactive)

Release date: 2023 | Developer: Behaviour Interactive

Invade player-made death mansions, steal the goods within, get out, then make your own. The Doom-meets-Mario-Maker puzzle FPS is a recent star on the Deck. It's verified right out of the gate, runs great, and compliments short sessions. You'll need to be online, so play it on the couch and not the commute.

Valheim (opens in new tab) - 1GB

Valheim Viking giving thumbs up

(Image credit: Iron Gate Studios)

Release date: 2021 | Developer: Iron Gate AB | Our review: Unscored (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab). As long as you're somewhere with a stable internet connection, I wholly recommend joining your friends for some Viking shenanigans.

No Man's Sky (opens in new tab) - 12GB

No Man's Sky Origins update

(Image credit: Hello Games)

Release date: 2016 | Developer: Hello Games | Our review: 64% (launch version) (opens in new tab)

No Man's Sky has had a long redemption arc, and the fact it runs without Proton and has an official controller layout that works just fine gives it a great advantage on the Deck. Switching down the settings might be necessary when you start flinging particle effects everywhere but otherwise it runs really well, and gives you a vast universe to explore. It also gives you an excuse to use the gyro for space flight, too.  

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (opens in new tab) - 2GB

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons - the two brothers make a friend

(Image credit: 505 Games)

Release date: 2013 | Developer: 505 Games | Our review: 85% (opens in new tab)

Brothers is perfect for cuddling up on the sofa with someone for a cooperative gaming session. Using one hand each, this game requires some intense coordination, but as long as you both hold the controller similarly, unlike my friend and I, that shouldn't be an issue. If they're a pain in the butt, you can always play it alone and work both sides of your brain. Brothers isn't too graphically intensive either, and runs just fine without the need for Proton.

PHOGS! (opens in new tab) - 6GB

Phogs screenshots

(Image credit: Coatsink)

Release date: 2020 | Developer: Coatsink | Our review: 75% (opens in new tab)

Another controller sharing game that works great on the Steam Deck, here. No settings needed changing for a super smooth experience, and with a distinct lack of menus there's no issue with reading on a small screen. It's not exactly the biggest game ever, but considering it's basically just cel shaded noodle bois, I can't figure out what uses up 6GB. Phogs is definitely worth it if this is your kind of game, though. 

Jackbox (opens in new tab) series - various sizes

Some T-shirt designs in Jackbox.

(Image credit: Jackbox Games Inc.)

Release date: 2014 | Developer: Jackbox Games

The extreme portability of the Steam Deck makes it a fantastic party game device. Just like you'd pack up your Nintendo Switch and take it to your friends' for a few rounds of Smash Bros, there are plenty of couch co-op games that work great with the Deck. Even without the dock, you can play Jackbox because you use your phone to interact, as opposed to a controller. Just remember to set it to not sleep after a while of inactivity, because that caught us out mid-Fibbage sesh. The file sizes for these are miniscule too, so that's always good. 

Heave Ho (opens in new tab) - 1GB

Some multicolored characters in Heave Ho.

(Image credit: Le Cartel Studio)

Release date: 2019 | Developer: Le Cartel Studio

Perfect with a controller, this is a great one for the Deck. It works straight off the bat with no settings or control tweaks, though it's worth turning down the frame cap just to save battery—30fps should do just fine. The text (what little there is) is good and large too, so no need to put on your reading glasses. If you want to connect other controllers so your friends can join in, you'll want to get a dock, or wait for the official Steam Deck dock (opens in new tab) to finally release. Though any should do. 

Life, colony and management sims

Cult of the Lamb (opens in new tab) - 1GB

Cult of the Lamb

(Image credit: Devolver Digital)

Release date: 2022 | Developer: Massive Monster | Our review: 82% (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab). 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.

Roots of Pacha (opens in new tab) - 600MB

My character getting up to shenanigans in Roots of Pacha

(Image credit: Soda Den)

Release date: 2022| 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 (opens in new tab)—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.

Frostpunk (opens in new tab) - 8GB

(Image credit: 11 bit studios)

Release date: 2018 | Developer: 11 Bit Studios | Our review: 89% (opens in new tab)

This is one of the games I really didn't expect to be great on the Steam Deck. It's a little awkward using a controller, but once you've assigned everything and adjusted the sensitivity curve on the thumbstick, it really isn't too bad. It doesn't need graphical tweaks to run well, and it's not a humongous game, either. 

Rimworld (opens in new tab) - 400MB 

(Image credit: Ludeon Studios)

Release date: 2013| Developer: Ludeon Studios | Our review: 74% (opens in new tab)

Keep in mind the size above doesn't account for your 3 million mods. Without those though, this is an appropriately small game for the Deck. It's a little awkward getting your controls in order, but there are some good controller layouts and plenty of buttons to get you started. It might be worth finding a mod that lets you scale the UI, as it doesn't actually allow you to in the standard game, in my experience. Still, if you don't mind the small text, the game runs perfectly well. 

The Sims 4 (opens in new tab) - 18GB+

(Image credit: EA)

Release date: 2014 | Developer: Maxis | Our review: 79% (launch) (opens in new tab)

Yes, the Steam Deck does play The Sims, and actually the controls aren't too bad once you've got them tweaked to your liking. There are enough buttons and triggers to assign to all the useful shortcuts like page up/down and home/end. You could even create action sets for Build and Buy mode versus live mode if you wanted to. The fact that you can get your masses of mods working on the Steam Deck too makes it all the more tempting to get into a Simming sesh. Oh, and being able to scale the UI is a big plus. Just maybe keep an eye on the size of your mods folder because I know the temptation to fill it up. 

Two Point Hospital (opens in new tab) - 6GB

Some characters in Two point hospital.

(Image credit: Sega)

Release date: 2018 | Developer: Two Point Studios | Our review: 87% (opens in new tab)

This is one I really didn't expect to be any good on the Deck, but once you get the controls right it's pretty great. I recommend making sure you have play/pause mapped to something accessible and changing whichever stick you use for the mouse to a more relaxed sensitivity curve. Other than the minor controller faff, the menus for Two Point Hospital can be a little small but the file size makes it a great one to have, and not mega graphically intensive. 

Sports/Driving games

Football Manager 2023 (opens in new tab) - 5GB

(Image credit: Sports Interactive)

Release date: 2022 | Developer: Sports Interactive | Our review: 80% (opens in new tab)

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 (opens in new tab) - 7GB

(Image credit: SCS Software)

Release date: 2012 | Developer: SCS Software | Our review: 85% (opens in new tab)

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. 

Circuit Superstars (opens in new tab) - 4GB

(Image credit: Original Fire Games)

Release date: 2021 | Developer: Original Fire Games | Our review: 85% (opens in new tab)

Small, not graphically intensive, and great with a controller, Circuit Superstars is a superb match for the Deck. You get all the fun of a circuit racing game without pushing your Steam Deck to its limits and needing to switch down the settings. There's no need to use Proton here, and it even shows up the correct controls.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for two years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.