Steam Deck, Valve’s mega-powerful mini PC, arrived this year, and while there’s every reason to see one of the most exciting pieces of gaming hardware available today, the number of great, no-fuss games available on the device is proof. Enough of your success.
But Steam is a huge market and not all games work well on the Deck. While many successful games run fine on the device, some won’t launch, while others will have you chasing through various settings and scrolling through forums and Reddit posts to find solutions. Fun for tech enthusiasts, but not ideal when you just want a great gaming experience. Valve has made the process easy by labeling certain games “Verified” on the device, but sometimes that’s not always a guarantee that a game will run smoothly.
But don’t worry, this list will guide you to the best experiences you can have in Steam Deck’s first year of life. All of these games are platform verified, so you don’t have to boot into desktop mode or mess around with any settings to get something to work. Heck, I’m not even going to tell you to adjust your graphics settings with any of these. They work great on first boot. (Although if you’re feeling brave, tweaking a few settings here and there can make the experience even better for you. This is the magic of the Deck.)
As you may know, there are relatively simple ways to get non-Steam games to run on the Deck, but we’ll handle those another time. This list focuses on great games that you are guaranteed access to right out of the box.
There’s no particular order to these titles, but before we go in, there are a few honorable mentions. Here they are, with a bit of why they didn’t make the cut if you choose to play them:
God of War
The prestigious PlayStation 4 exclusive from 2018 came to PC in January of this year, and the experience has been pretty good on most PCs. It was also checked out on the Steam Deck, so naturally I expected it to be a perfect fit for Best Of.
However, performance issues prevented me from enjoying it on the Deck. I won’t rule out the possibility that some might miss jumps, stutters, and complete crashes, but even on low graphical settings, I can’t fully recommend this one.
Definitely look elsewhere to experience this game, you’ll be much better off with a more powerful machine.
Exterior is an epic fantasy game with some pretty gritty survival mechanics. However, you can’t actually die: every “death” sends you down another forking story path, meaning failure isn’t just met with utter frustration. I really want it Exterior to make this list. Some may find the combat too stiff, but I think the scope the game offers outweighs those criticisms for the most part. Unfortunately, Exterior it has a lot of text, a lot of important text and menu dives which, on the smaller screen of the Steam Deck, become something of a deal breaker.
Maybe your eyes are better than mine. If so, this is quite an epic game to play in such a small form factor. And the graphics look right at home on the platform’s 800p display, just be sure to change the resolution in-game to match the platform’s display if you give this one a try.
weird horticulture is a cool puzzle game that combines the occult with, well, gardening. You could have a good time with this on Deck, but I found out smallest text font Weighed too heavily against the game to include it on the main roster.
There is a very useful zoom feature that you will use a lot while playing on Deck. However, the need to jump in and out of zoom levels makes for a different experience than you’d get on a larger screen with higher resolution for gaming.
it breaks my heart that dungeon munchies it only gets an honorable mention here. This side-scrolling action RPG is a truly endearing, addictive, pixelated culinary romp with a wonderful sense of humor. He came very close to making the cut, and perhaps spiritually, he does. Unfortunately, I think the font and character portraits could serve to fill more space on the Deck screen. Also, I found the settings menu to be too buggy.
If this was a list of the top 11 games, there would be room for this one.
Lost it was very close to making the list, and you should check it out. Its relatively short runtime makes it work well in a portable format, and I find that the colors and images fit nicely on Valve’s mini PC. Unfortunately, frame stuttering in faster sections of the game sours the experience too much, far too often, an issue that perhaps could have been overlooked had the game been a more substantial size.
Alright, with that out of the way, let’s get into the best Steam Deck games of 2022!