Valve’s Steam Deck is a revolutionary gaming PC that lets you take your favorite games with you wherever you go. You can deposit in the bank and play for hours. Technically it can play any PC game if you install Windows. However, immediately, it will only play games that are compatible with Valve’s Linux-based operating system or via the Proton translation layer. More than 500 games have been confirmed.
This list doesn’t just select the top rated titles on Steam. We also thought about how well the game works with the controller, how easy it is to play on a small screen, and how quickly the game can drain the battery.
Best Overall: Hades (PC)
Hades is one of the best action games of all time. It combines excellent controls with snappy but reasonable difficulty. It’s easy to immerse yourself in the idea of playing for half an hour, then come out of a sweaty trance two hours later.
Polishing the game enhances the excellent core gameplay. Hades is a painfully beautiful game, especially on the go, and the graphics are backed up by a top-notch soundtrack. The story is enriched by the excellent dubbing.
It is a difficult game, although the difficulty levels are available for less experienced players. It’s also a bit repetitive as the game progresses through several attempts to escape Hades.
Developer Supergiant has designed Hades for every gaming device in the sun, so it works well on all consoles, including the Steam Deck.
Best RPG: Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling
You didn’t expect that, did you? You were expecting The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt or maybe God of War. They are great games, but their challenging graphics don’t quite fit the deck. Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling is an RPG with a difference. It’s affordable, great for all ages, and has simple (but attractive) graphics that don’t compromise the Deck’s battery life.
Bug Fables is a love letter to Nintendo’s Paper Mario series, which combines traditional turn-based RPG combat with a variety of timed attacks. This maintains the firm pace of a turn-based RPG, but adds more active and engaging combat than most games in this genre.
As the graphic style suggests, Bug Fables is a family-friendly game that doesn’t delve into mature concepts. However, it has a fun story, comedic characters, fascinating music, and clever writing.
Best Platformer: Celeste
Platformer is the most competitive genre on Steam Deck at launch. There are dozens of games to choose from, but Celeste climbs to the top of this controversial slot. It’s an insanely fun, elegant and fluid platformer. The controls are excellent and the gameplay is so smooth it feels connected to your brain. The game also has a native version of Linux.
Celeste is a challenging game, but the fast pace of the game makes any death less penalizing. Don’t want to sand? You can familiarize yourself with the game’s accessibility options and adapt them to your liking.
The graphics in the game may look simple, but the story is deep, personal, and more impactful than most games that are many times longer. In fact, length is the only downside to the game. You’ll want more when it’s over.
Best Strategy Game: Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
The Civilization franchise is a decades-old mainstay of PC gaming, so it’s fitting that the latest title, Civilization VI, shines on the Steam Deck. This complex turn-based strategy game lets you create an alternate world history with dozens of civilizations and an infinite variety of randomly generated maps.
Civilization VI has received numerous updates and two major expansion packs since its 2016 release. It is packed with features, improvements and balance changes that enhance the experience. New players can reduce the difficulty and have fun, but veterans can spend hours worrying about the exact location of cities and improvements.
In partnership with Asper, Fir axis Games has made Civilization VI a native game for Linux and its turn-based pacing makes it easy to play on the go. You can quit the game at any time and restart it in no time.
Best First Person Shooter: SUPERHOT
SUPERHOT is a game that never feels stale. It breaks expectations for a first-person shooter with a unique hook: your enemies move when you move. The result is a strange and hilarious first-person dance reminiscent of the bullet-time effects made famous by The Matrix.
This game is another Linux native title, which means it plays smoothly on Steam Deck. The stylized 3D graphics are also modest, so the title is quite light in terms of battery usage and feels smooth.
Unfortunately, SUPERHOT’s campaign is quite short, lasting only three hours for most players. Additional modes offer variety and challenge for those who find the game fascinating. Gamers who want more can check out the sequel, SUPERHOT: Mind Control Delete, also an original Linux title.
Best casual game: Star dew Valley
Star dew Valley is still undefeated. In this popular indie game, you’re in charge of your own farm, then go harvest crops, make friends with your neighbors, and explore mines at your own pace.
The game’s leisurely pace doesn’t mean it lacks depth. In Star dew Valley, it takes at least 50 hours to reach the “final”, but for many, it’s just another step on the journey.
The controls in Star dew Valley take some getting used to, especially in the gamepad mode (which you probably use in Steam Deck). However, attractive graphics and excellent music help to distinguish it from other relaxing games. It is also native to Linux and ensures smooth and error-free gameplay.
Best puzzle game: Baba is you
Baba Is You is a confusing puzzle game. It is enigmatically difficult, enigmatically clear and enigmatically unique. The focus of the game is on using simple sentences formed by pushing blocks of words across the screen. The rules of the level change, making possible what at first glance seems impossible. This hook starts cleverly, allowing you to walk through walls or flip characters, and ends with the player creating mini-games and bending the laws of physics.
In fact, the game’s confusing concept is its only real downside. The puzzles are tough and it’s hard to resist the temptation to look for solutions. However, the game is not difficult with Steam Deck. It is a native Linux game with simple 2D graphics to save battery.
Best horror game: Inside
It doesn’t look so scary inside. The game’s 2D platforming and dark graphics seem to foreshadow a lot, but seem to fall short of the horror. So play the game.
What makes inside a horror masterpiece is its use of suspense to keep the game going. It’s not a difficult game, but the feeling of fear can make it more challenging than it is. You spend most of the game helpless and have no choice but to run.
The interior is modest for Steam Deck hardware, so it runs smoothly and helps squeeze decent battery life out of the battery. The game is not fast, but it controls well and is easy to learn. It’s also a short game, lasting up to four hours, and the story leaves a lot to your imagination. The game’s predecessor, Limbo, offers a similar experience if you want more.
Hades (viewed on Steam) is a great choice for a Steam Deck. It’s accessible enough to trap novice players, but strong enough to take on veterans looking for a tough challenge. The game works well on Steam Deck and the controls are great.
Steam Deck is a gaming laptop, and all PC games have minimum and recommended system requirements. If your Steam Deck doesn’t meet these requirements, your gaming experience will be terrible (if the game works). Currently, the best way to know if a game is good on a Steam Deck is Valve’s Deck Verified system. Valve will review the entire Steam catalog and check for Steam Deck compatibility. Games that work well on a handheld have a verified label. Games marked as playable require some settings changes to play, while unsupported games do not work at all. Unknown names are those that have not yet been tested by Valve.