I’ve had my Steam Deck for about a month, and it’s one of the best purchases I’ve made in my life. So, I decided to make a list of some great games for the Steam Deck, that I really enjoy playing on the machine.
You should be able to pick up and play most of these games pretty easily. If they made onto the list, it means three things:
- I like the game;
- It ran well on my Steam Deck;
- It played well on the Steam Deck.
This means that if a game made it, it’s because I was able to play it on my Steam Deck, and I enjoy(ed) playing it. Lastly, if you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to post a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer!
Note that all the games listed here are likely to be able to run on a variety of PCs. In fact, some are also available on consoles. It’s a list of games that I love, so, if any of them sound good, but you don’t have a Steam Deck, I would still recommend trying them out.
Sayonara Wild Hearts: A Dreamy, Synth-Pop Odyssey
Sayonara Wild Hearts stole my heart when I first got my hands on it. I’ve played the game from start to finish multiple times on PC, Switch, and now on the Steam Deck.
If you were to only play one game in this entire list, make it Sayonara Wild Hearts. The controls are super simple (1 joystick to move, one button for actions). The art direction is great. The game looks stylish and gorgeous. Oh, and it’s basically an interactive pop-synth album, so the music is super good.
It takes about an hour to complete in one go, which I highly recommend you do. Also note that I ended up playing through it from start to finish 7 times or more, and played through every level about a dozen times each. Sayonara Wild Heart has great replayability.
I love this game. My interpretation of the story changed wildly the first 5 or 7 times that I played this game from start to finish.
The best way to experience it is to go in blind. Get a pair of good earbuds or headphones, and immerse yourself. The game is incredibly forgiving, as it doesn’t want you to get stuck in any particular section.
It runs great on the Steam Deck, with a constant 60 FPS on the default high settings. You can pick it up on Steam for about 12 dollars or euros. You can even play it for free on iOS on Apple Arcade.
Superflight: Relax and Soar Through the Skies
Superflight is supergreat. It’s a casual game that costs less than a cup of coffee. 2.99 euros/dollars, to be exact. The concept is simple: you fly through the air, and the closer you are to a surface, the more points you accumulate. You touch a surface, you die. And the levels are procedurally generated.
It’s really that simple. The game runs great on the Steam Deck, 60 FPS and all, and doesn’t use much battery. You can buy it on Steam.
Disco Elysium: An Unforgettable Trip Through Revachol
I originally bought Disco Elysium on Switch. It didn’t run very well. Then, I bought it on GOG. And you know what? It runs really well on the Steam Deck. I would recommend lowering some settings (like shadows), and limiting the FPS cap to 50 or 40.
The fact that you can just pick up and play games within seconds on the Steam Deck is very good news for Disco Elysium. This is because it plays kind of like a very interactive visual novel. Thus, it’s perfect for this kind of machine.
The game is entirely voice acted, and even has a great feature to switch from English to a language of your choosing, in-game, and in real-time. The video below shows this off.
The story will keep you on your toes, and the sheer amount of choice and true roleplaying that the game offers can only earn it a recommendation from me.
Metal Gear Rising Revengeance: Fast-Paced Hack-and-Slash Insanity
Metal Gear Rising Revengeance is action-packed, insane, and an absolute blast to play. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which isn’t too surprising, given that Kojima didn’t really take part in the development of the game.
It’s a decade old and was released on consoles, so it runs and plays really well on Steam Deck. You can enjoy playing a cyborg ninja running at 40 or 60 FPS, no problem.
I don’t want to say much more about it, other than, if you don’t like Kojima games, you might still like Revengance. We’re not talking about a “Death Stranding”, where you have to watch 4 hours of cutscenes to finish the game. It doesn’t take itself seriously (at all), and it’s focused on letting you have fun.
One last thing. I wouldn’t recommend playing on “Hard” difficulty. At least not on your first playthrough. It felt really tedious. Plus, you can’t change the difficulty, so I had to start a brand new game.
You can buy the game on Steam.
Civilization V: “one more turn” made easier
Now, I have a confession to make… I’ve never actually finished a game of Civilization. Well, maybe once, years ago, but that’s it. I keep starting a new game, playing for hours, to eventually never revisit that game and start a new one.
I also have played Civilization VI, but it’s not in this list for a simple reason: I got it for free on the Epic Store, and just haven’t gotten around to installing it on my Steam Deck.
Overall, you can’t really go wrong with Civilization 5. Playing it using the Steam Controller already felt great years ago. As such, the fact that the controls are well suited for the Steam Deck is not surprising.
You can pick it up on Steam.
Elden Ring: because of course it made the list
Listen. Every “Best Games for the Steam Deck” article written by bots includes Elden Ring. Thing is… They’re right. Elden Ring runs pretty well on the Steam Deck, and the form factor makes it enjoyable to just pick up and play for even 15 minutes.
I won’t lie, the graphics aren’t on high. I put all the settings to low, set the resolution as something under the resolution of the Steam Deck, and turned on FSR. But you know what? Most of the time, the game runs at a smooth 40 FPS. When it doesn’t, it doesn’t go lower than 30FPS.
I’m used to playing on potato laptops, so I don’t mind. I will happily sacrifice graphics for smoothness of gameplay, any day of the week.
Overall, there’s a reason why everyone loves Elden Ring. I find myself coming back to it again and again. If I had one advice to give, it’d be this: play as a wretch for your first playthrough. It’s easier than you think it is. Don’t look up guides. Don’t look up builds. Just discover the game. Otherwise, you might try to optimize the fun out of the experience.
You can buy the game on Steam.
Vampire Survivors: drugs in video games form
It’s cheap. It’s addictive. It’s simple. What can I say about Vampire Survivors that hasn’t already been said? It’s just great. And it costs less than 5 bucks. Just get it on Steam. It’s almost impossible to regret it.
Flight of Nova: Euro Truck Simulator 2 in Space
Euro Truck Simulator 2, but in space: that’s the best description I can give of Flight of Nova. I mean it. What makes Euro Truck Simulator so fun is its relaxing yet demanding gameplay. If you zone out for over a second, you can easily start to make costly mistakes. Yet, the gameplay has a soothing nature to it.
This game is in alpha, and being made by only one developer, David Lloyd. No giant studio, only one man.
Flight of Nova features realistic orbital and flight mechanics. In games like No Man’s Sky, if you want to leave a planet’s surface, you only need to point your spaceship up and open the thrusters. To land on a planet, you just… go to it. In Flight of Nova, once you leave the planet’s atmosphere, to renter it requires attention. Go too fast, and your ship explodes. Go too slow, and it will bounce off the atmosphere.
Since the game’s flight mechanics are trying to be as realistic as possible, the game feels very different from other space games. For example, on orbital missions, you will need to land on an orbital base (which, obviously, orbits around the planet). However, this is not easy. The tutorial for this task alone took me 5 hours… To successfully land my ship for the first time on an orbital base.
Would you believe me if I said I had a lot of fun during these 5 hours?
Thankfully, missions that can be completed without leaving the atmosphere don’t have this learning curve. Flying ships within the planet’s atmosphere is pretty straightforward.
Overall, the game runs great on the deck. Buttery-smooth 60 fps. I never experienced any lag or lowered fps. It’s a joy to play. However, I will note that a lot of the UI is hard to see on the Steam Deck screen. Bummer, in a game where seeing this UI can be the difference between landing on an orbital base, or never being able to reach it.
However, I have emailed the developer, and he expressed that he knows about this issue. More specifically, he said that:
“I will do my best to add options so we can get important elements of the UI more visible on the Steam Deck (in native resolution hand-held).“
I highly recommend Flight of Nova. You can buy it on Steam for $24.99. It’s in Early Access, but I’d say it’s well worth it. As of now, this game is one of a kind.
What’s next for Flight of Nova?
On April 24th, Flight of Nova‘s developer David Lloyd sent me an email informing me of what he is currently working on: procedural missions for the free mode and interplanetary travel. I had absolutely no idea that visiting other planets was planned for the game, so I am super excited.
The procedural missions are a great news as well, as it would allow player to keep getting new missions, without the developer having to hand-craft each of them. Overall, Flight of Nova is a game that shows a lot of promise.