The best Steam Deck games for 2023 are the ones that are either perfectly suited to gaming on the go, or the ones that naturally break themselves down into short chunks. The Steam Deck is undoubtedly one of the coolest new consoles around, and the ability to take your undoubtedly bloated backlog with you to work, bed, and the toilet, is inspired.
Picture this though, you’ve just got your Steam Deck, opened it up, and you’re excited to dive in. You open up the library and start looking for things to install. Oh no, there are so many games; you start adding up how much you’ve spent on games you’ve never even played and you spiral. You’re in the shower crying now while the Steam Deck angrily whirs at you, unused, unloved, unplayed. You can avoid that by just installing the best Steam Deck games as per our list.
The Best Steam Deck games for 2023
We’ve gone for a mix of different games here that will help you out no matter the mood. It’s also mostly indie games because AAA games have had their chance, and also the term indie game is becoming increasingly murky anyway. Look, just read the list.
Vampire Survivors is a damn-near-perfect game. You don’t attack in it, the only buttons you need are to move, and then you just get to collect power-ups until you’ve ascended into a bullet hell boss and then you can basically walk away and let the game play itself. The only issue with it is it takes up a lot of focus on a PC, and frankly, it’s a great game to play while watching TV or something.
The reason it’s one of the best Steam Deck games is because this issue is completely solved. You can just chill on the sofa cutting down thousands of monsters while watching your favourite TV show, streamer, or anime. It’s a dream, and the only possible way to improve on the original Vampire Survivors experience.
If you happen to own a lot of retro game files through legal means then you’ll want Retroarch on your Steam Deck. It essentially acts as a hug for every emulator out there, and it means you can play all of the old-school games from nearly every possible generation, console, and handheld on your Steam Deck.
It’s rather awe-inspiring to see it in action. As long as you own the game files legally, you’ll be able to dive through time and play around in whatever time period you want and relive the days of your youth, or if you’re young, the days before you were born.
Elden Ring is undoubtedly one of the greatest games of all time. It takes the classic FromSoftware formula, mixes in all of the glorious experimentation from Dark Souls 2, and then perfects it and yeets it into a massive open world.
Now, you might think that being an open world means it’s a poor choice. If you are thinking that, you’re a fool. Sorry, you’re not a fool. Elden Ring’s open world can be broken down into chunks, and getting into a dungeon or two as you’re playing on your Steam Deck is a perfect catharsis and compliment to also playing the game on your PC.
Stardew Valley is probably the pinnacle of the farming sim genre. Games might do individual things better than this title, but they rarely come close to matching the whole package. In handheld form on Switch it was good, but on Steam Deck where you can play the same save as on your PC, it’s truly glorious.
The story is simple; you inherit a farm from a relative, move out of the city to the middle of nowhere, then give the pixelated person you love random bits of farm produce until they love you back and you get married. Also, there are monsters and some magic sometimes. Just play it.
Terraria is a titan. A lot of people still mistake it for being a 2D take on Minecraft, but those people are wrong and should be made to play Terraria, because it’s superior in a lot of ways. While you do still get to dig and build things, Terraria is a little more combat-focussed.
You create a character, and then work your way through a bevy of bosses as you upgrade your armour, search for lost weapons in hell or on sky islands, and eventually become so powerful that you defeat the game’s take on Cthulhu.
Roguelikes are a perfect fit for the Steam Deck, and Hades is one of the best roguelikes in existence. This combat-heavy action game has you playing as Zagreus, the son of Hades, as he tries to escape Hades and break out onto the surface.
The action is more fluid than the stuff that comes out of your taps, the artwork is stunning, the replayability is unending, and everyone is hot. What more could you possibly want from one of the best Steam Deck games?
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Finally, we have Divinity: Original Sin 2. This is a horribly large CRPG that has you trying to ascend to godhood as a range of different pre-made or custom characters. The story is a constant joy, but the combat is often what keeps people hooked.
Elemental interactions and reactions are key here, and you can do things like making it rain to moisten the floor, zap that water to stun your enemies, and then turn that water to poison to finish them off. It’s wonderful, and the turn-based nature fits perfectly on the Steam Deck.
Now you should know where to begin your Steam Deck journey. Need more recommendations? Head over to our article where we talk about the best Steam Deck Verified games you can play.