Best Steam Deck games in 2023: AAA, Indie & more

Best Steam Deck games in 2023: AAA, Indie & more
Images via Square Enix | Obsidian | ConcernedApe

Written by 

Harry Boulton


2nd May 2023 12:34


Everyone who has got one seems to fall in love, so you might be wondering what the best Steam Deck games in 2023 are to set that flame alight. Valve's handheld device has really taken the gaming world by storm, allowing users to bring the Steam library that they've built over so many years to any location at any time, which is certainly an attractive prospect.

The device can play most games without a hitch, but some games really do shine best when played on the 7-inch display. It is remarkable to see the latest triple-A titles work so well on such a small device, and the indies that you've collected and adored seem purpose-built for playing in bed or on the go.

Ready to dive right in? Carry on reading below to see our full list of the best Steam Deck games to play in 2023, ranging from the biggest blockbusters to some games you might not have even heard of.

Best Steam Deck Games in 2023

Key art of the Steam Deck
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While it would be easy to throw all of our favourite games in this list and call it a day, we have specifically decided to exclusively include games that work best on the Steam Deck platform.

That might come down to factors like suiting a controller layout best, working within the power limits of the system, avoiding any compatibility issues, and working portably. Of course, there are going to be loads of games that we won't have space to include on this list, but this is just a selection of our personal favourites in no particular order.

18 - Elden Ring

Screenshot of a pot boy in Elden Ring
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While this does somewhat defy the parameters we just set, Elden Ring is just too impressive to not include on this list. Outside of it being easily one of the best games ever made, it also runs surprisingly well on the Deck.

Capping at 40 fps and running on lower graphical settings is your best bet for a stable experience, and it will of course eat away at your battery, but it is just a marvel to play a game of this scale on a platform so small. There's definitely a reason why it ranks so highly on Valve's official Steam Deck playtime charts.

17 - Pentiment

Screenshot of Andreas on a boat in Pentiment
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On the flip side, Obsidian's 16th Century Bavarian murder-mystery Pentiment is another perfect game to play on Steam Deck. It doesn't require much power at all despite coming out recently, and its art style just looks wonderful on the handheld platform.

Furthermore, it features a near-constant autosave system, making it perfect if you're looking for something that will let you just pick up and play for a short period. You might struggle to put it down though, as Pentiment's utterly compelling narrative will have you relentlessly uncovering each mystery.

  • Find out what the best cosy games are to play right now in this amazing list.

16 - Stardew Valley

Screenshot of the farm road in Stardew Valley
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If you've somehow not played Stardew Valley yet, then the Steam Deck is the perfect place to start. ConcernedApe's Harvest Moon-style farming sim exploded upon its release in 2016, sustaining a massive fan base ever since.

Its day-based gameplay system makes it perfect for those who want to play for short periods, while also sustaining the ability to be played for hours at a time too for the keen farmhands and cave crawlers out there. The only slight downside is that installing mods is a bit more finicky on Deck, but it is still thankfully very much possible when using a tutorial.

15 - Borderlands 3

Key art of the Calypso Twins in Borderlands 3
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Borderlands 3 is great on Steam Deck

Ok, it's not got the lovely green checkmark, but Gearbox's threequel runs brilliantly on Steam Deck. Its core gameplay loop of killing enemies, getting better loot, and then killing more enemies is a delight, and while the text can sometimes be a tiny bit small, the game is very playable.

The DLC works too, but a word of warning: installing the whole lot brings it to almost 140GB, so you'll want a microSD card handy.

14 - Triangle Strategy

Screenshot of a battle in the mines in Triangle Strategy
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Square Enix

If you're a keen fan of tactics games, then there are few better to choose from than Triangle Strategy. While we could have just as easily selected Tactics Ogre Reborn as it is also a fantastic game, Triangle Strategy is the perfect balance for enthusiasts and newcomers to the genre alike that make it another of the best Steam Deck games.

Its stunning HD-2D graphics and complex choice-based narrative pair wonderfully with dense and varied tactical combat scenarios. Its only downside is that it is surprisingly power-hungry on Deck, which can be quite troubling when battles often reach within the hour mark.

13 - Death Stranding

Best Steam Deck Games: Death Stranding
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Kojima Productions

We just couldn't resist including a game about transportation on a list of the best games on a handheld device. While this does fall under the same category as something like Elden Ring - where battery life and performance will suffer slightly - it is still well worth playing on Deck.

There would be something just so therapeutic about walking through the damaged terrain of Death Stranding while commuting as if you were experiencing two journeys at the same time. Do watch out for the lengthy cutscenes that Kojima has become synonymous with though, as you could be stuck there for a while!

12 - Monster Hunter: Rise

Key art of Monster Hunter Rise showing a large spiked monster and four hunters
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Another of the best Steam Deck games that sadly hasn't quite hit the "Great on Deck" certification yet, Monster Hunter: Rise is brilliant on Valve's console.

It's perhaps not surprising given the series' history with handhelds, but slaying huge beasts and using their claws, tails, and anything else to build new gear to slay even bigger beasts is a compelling loop that never gets old -- even moving into the huge expansion, Sunbreak.

11 - Chrono Trigger

Screenshot of the time travel machine in Chrono Trigger
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Square Enix

JRPGs, specifically those originally released on the SNES, seem to just be perfect for the Steam Deck as a platform. The smaller screen makes the 16-bit graphics truly shine, and they are just a breeze to play on a handheld platform.

Chrono Trigger in particular is a particular standout from an era of excellent games, being rightfully regarded as one of the greatest games of all time. It takes you on a time-travelling adventure across various fantasy lands, with a simple but ever-engaging turn-based combat system and a masterfully told narrative that still resonates to this day.

10 - Final Fantasy VI

Screenshot of the opera singer Maria throwing a rose in Final Fantasy VI
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Square Enix

We would be remiss to not include a Final Fantasy game on this list, and with the recent pixel remasters Final Fantasy VI emerges as a clear favourite. While it does broadly fall into the same category as Chrono Trigger, it is just too good to pass up.

You can easily opt for several other Final Fantasy titles too, with Final Fantasy XIV being very much playable on deck with a bit of tinkering, and series favourites like VII, IX, and X also working well alongside the other pixel rereleases. Overall, the Steam Deck is perhaps the perfect console if you're wanting to dive into the Final Fantasy series.

9 - Hades

Screenshot of Hades standing in a field in Hades
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Supergiant Games

Another genre that feels like a match made in heaven with the Steam Deck is roguelites. While we could have just as easily opted for titles like Rogue Legacy 2, Dead Cells, and Spelunky 2, Supergiant Games' Hades emerged as our choice as one of the best Steam Deck games you can play right now.

Hades features combat that somehow manages to effortlessly bridge the gap between chaos and precision, and its short but infinitely replayable runs make it perfect for the Deck. Each playthrough takes no longer than about 25 minutes, making it a fantastic choice if you're looking for something to just pick up and play on the commute or while you've got some downtime at home.

8 - The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles

Screenshot of Ryunosuke Naruhodo pointing in The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
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If you're wanting to play a visual novel on your Steam Deck, then there are few better choices than The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. Compiling both Adventures and Resolve into a nice neat package, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles serves as a highlight for an already excellent series.

Instead of playing as the famous Phoenix Wright, you play as his ancestor Ryunosuke Naruhodo in both Meiji-era Japan and Victorian England - alongside a certain Herlock Sholmes. Featuring ten cases across 70 hours of gameplay, there is just so much to enjoy and uncover within this extravagant collection that fits so well into the handheld system.

7 - Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Screenshot of Snake hiding from a helicopter in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
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Another Kojima game on this list, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is still well worth playing in 2023 - despite arriving almost eight years ago. It was "Great on Deck" but is now just "Playable". However, we've had zero issues in testing. 

Still, time is a flat circle, and Phantom Pain's huge sandbox, seemingly endless stream of unlocks, and moreish base-building mechanics make it one of the most enjoyable games on the Steam Deck to just sit back and unwind with.

Fancy gathering resources for an hour? Head out and recruit soldiers to your cause. Want to tackle an assassination mission? Lock and load in any way you choose. Naturally, there's a positively batsh*t plot to follow, but even without it, it's easily one of the best Steam Deck games of 2023.

6 - Hollow Knight

Screenshot of a mossy area and a metal bridge in Hollow Knight
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Team Cherry

Standing out among the sea of Metroidvania titles in Hollow Knight, which is both an utterly brilliant and crushingly difficult game for anyone up to the challenge. Hollow Knight's stunning aesthetic might still look great on a massive TV, but it fits so well within the seven-inch boundary of the Steam Deck, giving you an even more intimate experience.

With the imminent release of Hollow Knight Silksong, there has never been a better time than now to jump into Hallownest if you haven't already taken the plunge.

5 - Persona 3 Portable & Persona 4 Golden

Key art of the all out attack screen from Persona 3 Portable and the main character from Persona 4 Golden
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While this is technically cheating to include two games in one entry, the ports of Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden are two of the best games to play on Steam Deck. Considering how long Persona games can be, being able to whittle away anytime and anywhere at your own leisure can really help in reducing fatigue.

Additionally, considering that Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden were both portable editions of their respective games, it makes playing them on the Steam Deck even more natural. If you're a fan of Persona 5 and want to dive in more, then why not give these both a try on the Deck?

4 - Vampire Survivors

Screenshot of a wave of monsters in Vampire Survivors
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Crowned as the unofficial "Best Steam Deck game" of 2022, Vampire Survivors took the world by storm with its simple and captivating gameplay. Falling again under the roguelite category, Vampire Survivors tasks players with surviving its 30-minute time limit with the help of a few upgrades and health boosts along the way.

This might sound pejorative but the best thing about Vampire Survivors when it comes to playing on Steam Deck is that it near enough plays itself. No button presses are required, as all you need to do is avoid any nearby foes and let your power-ups do the work. It emerges as almost the ideal 'low effort' game: tailor-made for those oh-so-common moments when you just want something easy to play.

3 - Hitman 3

Key art of Agent 47 in Hitman 3 Freelancer
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Freelancer mode is a free update for all Hitman 3 owners.

Hitman 3 is a great showcase for the Steam Deck, and it recently snagged that all-important "Great on Deck" designation to make it even more tempting. The new Freelancer Mode adds a whole roguelike game on top, too.

A stealth playbox like no other, Hitman 3 rewards a keen eye and smart problem-solving with some of the best levels in the series. Thankfully, if you preferred Hitman (2016) or Hitman 2's locations, you can import those, too -- meaning the sheer volume of things to do, unlockables to earn, and horrible targets to slay in creative ways make this an easy pick as one of the best Steam Deck games of 2023.

2 - Marvel's Midnight Suns

Key art of Blade in Marvel's Midnight Suns
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Firaxis Games

If you fall in the middle of a superhero and SRPG-themed Venn diagram, then Marvel's Midnight Suns will be an ideal choice for you on Steam Deck. You will be able to utilise all of your favourite superpowers in-game, building up the perfect deck to take down even the toughest foes.

Additionally, while it didn't fare the best at launch, it has recently received an update that significantly boosts the performance on Steam Deck. With this, you've got no excuse not to jump right in and enjoy all the action that Marvel's Midnight Suns has to offer.

What is the best game to play on Steam Deck?

1 - Resident Evil 4 Remake

Key art of Ada Wong in Resident Evil 4 Remake
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While Resident Evil 4 Remake is the most recent entry on this list (despite technically being 18 years old), it immediately emerged as one of the best. The RE Engine has always performed exceptionally well on lesser hardware, and this continues with the recent remake which shines on Deck.

According to our own Resident Evil 4 Remake Steam Deck guide, you can expect to get a comfortable 40-50 fps at 720p, which is more than playable - especially when compared to other high-budget titles. While it doesn't offer the same pure horror as previous Resident Evil games, leaning instead more into the action, it still remains perfect for playing on the go or hidden under the bedcovers.

So, that wraps up this list of the best Steam Deck games that you can play right now in 2023. Make sure to stay with us at GGRecon for all of the latest Steam Deck news, updates, and guides.

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