The best Steam Deck games

With thousands of Steam Deck games labelled fully verified or playable, here are some of the top options to get you started.

Best Steam game overall
Ori and the Blind Forest
Typical price
$29.95
Genre
Action-platformer
Players
Single-player
Time to beat
9+ hours
Best cheap Steam game
Vampire Survivors
Typical price
$7.49
Genre
Action-roguelite
Players
Single-player
Time to beat
10+ hours
Best free Steam game
Apex Legends Box Art
Apex Legends
Free-to-play
Genre
First-person shooter
Players
Up to 60
Time to beat
Limitless
Best surprise Steam game
Dredge
Typical price
$36.50
Genre
Fishing-horror
Players
Single-player
Time to beat
12+ hours
Best time-sink Steam game
Elden Ring cover art
Elden Ring
Typical price
$89.95
Genre
Action-RPG
Players
1–4
Time to beat
55+ hours
Nathan Lawrence
May 17, 2023
Icon Time To Read6 min read

The age-old PC question for gaming used to be: can it run Crysis? These days, it’s more akin to: can it run on Steam Deck? Valve’s handheld mini-PC (don’t make the mistake of calling it a console) is a lot easier to buy in Australia these days. If you’re someone who’s taken the plunge and bought a Steam Deck, you’re going to want to know which games to play.

That’s where we step in. While this list is purpose built for Steam Deck owners, the games and contenders on this page are also great on any Steam computer that can run them, including the best gaming laptops. Note that while we’ve listed a handful of winners—personal preference, of course—each category has a list of contenders that are also very much worth considering.

The best Steam Deck games compared

Best for
Game
Genre
Players
Time to beat
Typical price
View game
Best Steam Deck game overallOri and the Blind ForestAction-platformerSingle-player9+ hours$29.95
Best cheap Steam Deck gameVampire SurvivorsAction-rogueliteSingle-player10+ hours$7.49
Best free Steam Deck gameApex LegendsFirst-person shooterUp to 60LimitlessFree-to-play
Best surprise Steam Deck gameDredgeFishing-horrorSingle-player12+ hours$36.50
Best time-sink Steam Deck gameElden RingAction-RPG1–455+ hours$89.95
Best solo Steam Deck gameHi-Fi RushRhythm-actionSingle-player11+ hours$44.95

Ori and the Blind Forest

Best Steam Deck game overall

Typical price
$29.95
Genre
Action-platformer
Players
Single-player
Time to beat
9+ hours
pro
Pros
pro Gorgeous art design
pro Enticing exploration
pro Meaningful progression
con
Cons
con Must play at 60fps
con Upgrade points to unlock map markers
con Easy to get lost

In fairness, any of the category winners on this page could easily sub into this top spot. That said, Ori and the Blind Forest is great for a number of reasons. The gorgeous art design looks great on the Steam Deck’s 1280x800 screen. You need to play it at 60 frames per second (fps) for it to look and feel right, but that’s the frame rate that Ori was built for. Despite the higher frame rate, expect to get around five hours of battery life out of Ori. That’s plenty of time to get lost in an addictive gameplay loop of exploration, combat and unlocks.

Outside of the other winners on this page, consider the following games for a similar Ori-like fix on Steam Deck:

  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
  • Celeste
  • Cuphead
  • Hollow Knight
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Pizza Tower
  • Rain World
  • Rayman Legends
  • Steam World Dig 2
  • Trine 2
Light Bulb
What’s with all the single-player games?

While the average Nintendo Switch console is made for same-screen multiplayer out of the box, the Steam Deck’s design leans more into a single-player focus. You can play online multiplayer games or even same-screen multiplayer, but you’ll need a Bluetooth controller for the latter. To make this easier, consider buying a dock that lets you connect the Steam Deck to a larger screen.

Vampire Survivors

Best cheap Steam Deck game

Typical price
$7.49
Genre
Action-roguelite
Players
Single-player
Time to beat
10+ hours
pro
Pros
pro Easy to pick up and play
pro Addictive gameplay loop
pro Surprising amount of build depth
con
Cons
con Can be a grind early on
con Complicated late-game item combos
con Trial-and-error for best characters

This is the best sub-$10 you can spend on Steam. If you’ve already played Vampire Survivors, you know how addictive it is. In the simplest terms, you only control the direction your character moves. But there is so much more depth to this game. Such is its addictiveness, I’ve played it on Xbox Game Pass, tablet, phone and then on Steam. I’ve played hours on a Surface Laptop 4, and it was the inaugural game to grace my Steam Deck screen. Initial runs may only last five-or-so minutes. But soon you’re in the groove of half-hour runs, new stages, more levels and the persistent unlocks. And all of that’s before you get to endgame content.

For similarly addictive cheap Steam games, consider the following:

  • Crazy Taxi
  • Deep Rock Galactic
  • Hotline Miami
  • Journey
  • Left 4 Dead 2
  • Portal
  • Portal 2
  • Slay the Spire
  • Stardew Valley
  • Terraria

Apex Legends

Best free Steam Deck game

Apex Legends Box Art
Free-to-play
Genre
First-person shooter
Players
60
Time to beat
Limitless
pro
Pros
pro Zero-cost fun
pro High player population
pro Great movement and gunplay
con
Cons
con Quality of matches depends on partners
con Best controls take some tweaking
con You’ll likely get stomped early on

After spending more than $1,000 on the hardware, it’s great to know there are free Steam games to use on the Deck. One of the best games to try is Apex Legends. This battle royale from Respawn Entertainment—the creators of Titanfall, Titanfall 2 and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor—is easy to learn the basics of and rewarding to master. Incidentally, those three games are also great on Steam Deck. Apex Legends is consistently in the top five most populous games on Steam, so there’s always a match to find. The best-in-class ping system means you can get away without a gaming headset, too.

Alternatively, here’s a list of other great free-to-play Steam games to consider:

  • Brawlhalla
  • Dota Underlords
  • Fallout Shelter
  • Kards
  • Marvel Snap
  • MultiVersus
  • Path of Exile
  • Team Fortress 2
  • Warframe
  • World of Tanks Blitz

Dredge

Best surprise Steam Deck game

Typical price
$36.50
Genre
Fishing-horror
Players
Single-player
Time to beat
12+ hours
pro
Pros
pro Simple but engrossing gameplay loop
pro Mix or exploration and horror
pro Heaps to discover
con
Cons
con Punishing hull damage
con Evading enemies you can’t hurt
con Days fly by without engine upgrades

If you told me I’d love a fishing game, I’d think you were joking. Then Dredge came along. That genre categorisation isn’t a typo, either: this is legit a fishing-horror game. Step aboard a tub I like to call the HMS Lovecraftian, as you sail into an incredibly addictive gameplay loop. Things start out basic enough with fishing for cash, driven by an incredibly compelling fishing minigame. Soon enough you’re dredging up boat parts and mysteries in equal measure, exploring the archipelago by day and avoiding the many terrors of the night. I was hooked from the first five minutes until the credits rolled. Don’t sleep on this game that plays exceptionally well on Steam Deck (60fps highly recommended for minigame timing).

For other surprise hits that are great on Steam Deck, check out these games:

  • Cult of the Lamb
  • Dwarf Fortress
  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  • PowerWash Simulator
  • Raft
  • Stray
  • Teardown
  • Temtem
  • V Rising
  • The Wandering Village

Elden Ring

Best time-sink Steam Deck game

Elden Ring cover art
Typical price
$89.95
Genre
Action-RPG
Players
1–4
Time to beat
55+ hours
pro
Pros
pro Hours of engrossing gameplay
pro Risk/reward encounters
pro Runs great at 40fps
con
Cons
con Can be punishingly difficult
con Some foes are a grind to fight
con Keep a charger nearby

I’d never met a Souls-like game I could get into until I played Elden Ring. Fast-forward 40+ hours, and the rest is history. Despite being a demanding open-world game, you can get around 40fps with the right build, which is all you need to get immersed in this epic game world. I highly recommend finding a starting guide if you’re new to these types of games (I did), otherwise follow the signs until the crossroads tell you to go left, then go right instead. You’ll only get a few hours of Steam Deck play time while you’re mobile, so keep a charger nearby if you’re playing on the couch at home.

For other time-sink Steam Deck games, consider the following contenders:

  • Days Gone
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Everspace 2
  • God of War
  • Mad Max
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Hi-Fi Rush

Best solo Steam Deck game

Typical price
$44.95
Genre
Action-rhythm
Players
Single-player
Time to beat
11+ hours
pro
Pros
pro Rhythm game meets action game
pro Great art design
pro Multiple ways to nail perfect timing
con
Cons
con Needs 60fps for perfect timing
con Hit-or-miss humour
con More music genres’d be nice

There are a lot of solo games on this page, so feel free to sub any of those in. That said, the one that’s impressed me and a whole lot of other gamers lately is Hi-Fi Rush. Bethesda surprise dropped it in January 2023. And while you can technically stream it via Xbox Cloud Gaming, you really want to play this one at 60fps. Like Dredge, Hi-Fi Rush feels better at 60fps because of its reliance on input timing. Better timing windows in Hi-Fi Rush make for better-sounding, better-feeling combos in this rhythm-based action game. The basics are simple enough, but there’s some solid depth to the combat in a game that’s affordably priced and easy to play.

For other great single-player Steam Deck games outside of those listed above, consider these ones:

  • Dave the Diver
  • Dead Cells
  • Death’s Door
  • Disco Elysium – The Final Cut
  • Hades
  • Marvel’s Midnight Suns
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
  • Neon White
  • Slime Rancher 2
  • Tunic

What to look for in a Steam Deck game

The first thing to check when buying any game for your Steam Deck is that it’s Verified. Use a site like SteamDB to view a list of Steam Deck games marked ‘Verified’, ‘Playable’ or ‘Unsupported’ (in that order). You can still play games that aren’t verified, but some tweaking may be required. Search for the game name plus “steam deck” to source player solutions.

Given there are thousands of games marked verified or playable, there are a lot of options to choose from. We’d advise adding the games you want to your Steam Wishlist and waiting for a regularly occurring Steam sale to buy them at a cheaper price.

It’s also worth checking sites like ProtonDB, Reddit or other forums to see what people are recommending in terms of performance settings and battery life for the Steam Deck games you want to play. If you’re looking to play for hours without recharging, you’ll want to go with less-demanding games, lower resolutions and fidelity settings, plus possibly even a manually reduced frame rate.

How we choose the best Steam Deck games

We choose the best Steam Deck games by first playing dozens and dozens of hours of different games on a Steam Deck. The next step was to compile a rather lengthy shortlist of contenders, then present the most meaningful categories.

The best game overall is one that can not only be enjoyed by everyone, but also offers a great mix of fidelity and battery longevity. Cheap and free options are self-explanatory, while other categories were created to include the games we loved playing most.

Because there are around 10,000 Steam Deck games to choose from—in terms of Verified and Playable—we also wanted to include a lengthy list of additional recommendations. Where unsure, we researched to include winners and contenders that were reported to run well on Steam Deck.

Steam Deck games FAQs

There are more than 3,000 games that are marked as Steam Deck ‘Verified’ and more than 5,000 others that are categorised as ‘Playable’. That’s thousands of compatible games to choose from, but sites like SteamDB are handy for identifying which ones are compatible and most popular.
No, the Steam Deck isn’t compatible with every Steam Game. That said, there are around 9,000 Steam games that can be played on Steam Deck, with websites dedicated to explaining workarounds for those that don’t work by just pressing ‘Play’.

Yes, the Steam Deck is worth buying. If you’re a PC gamer with a healthy Steam library who wants the option to play away from a dedicated desktop computer or laptop, the Steam Deck is a great way to play thousands of games anywhere.

Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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