Rounding off our best of 2023 (so far) coverage, I’ve put together a list of the best Steam Deck games of the year. These include new games, ports of console games, remakes, and more. If you’ve not kept up with the Steam Deck and our coverage, Jared recently reviewed the WaterField Steam Deck case, and I’ve been writing about all the best games through reviews and more. Check out all our Steam Deck coverage here. As usual, the list is in no particular order.
Bethesda’s rhythm action game Hi-Fi Rush impressed the hell out of me right from the start when it was released earlier this year. I played it all the way on Steam Deck more than twice, and have been slowly making my way through a fifth playthrough on Xbox Series X. I love the characters, music, and amazing combat in Hi-Fi Rush. This is definitely my favorite Bethesda game ever, and an essential on Steam Deck if you enjoy rhythm games and action games.
Like a Dragon: Ishin
Like a Dragon: Ishin is a blend of a remake and remaster of Yakuza Ishin that was released only in Asia and Japan on PS4 and PS3 many years ago. The spin-off was enhanced and updated for all current consoles and PC, and it is brilliant on Steam Deck. While it has many character likenesses from prior Yakuza games, Like a Dragon: Ishin has a standalone story, and it is one of the best in the series. If you enjoy the series, this is a must buy. There are better entry points though if you’re new, like Yakuza 0.
Dead Space Remake
This year’s Dead Space remake is one of the most visually impressive games in a while, and it looks and plays surprisingly well on Steam Deck. Despite a slightly rough launch day, Valve’s Proton fixes have made Dead Space a survival horror essential for Steam Deck owners, and a true tech showcase for the platform. It is stunning, and was amazing to play on both PS5 and Steam Deck when it was released. Hopefully we see the sequel remade in the future.
Octopath Traveler II
When the original Octopath Traveler hit PC platforms following its Switch exclusivity, the HD 2D aesthetic benefited a lot from higher resolutions and frame rates. Fast forward to Octopath Traveler II hitting PC, Switch, PS5, and PS4 simultaneously, and it delivers superb visuals at 60fps on Steam Deck without any compromise. I’ve played Octopath Traveler II on all platforms, and it shines on Steam Deck for sure. It is one of Square Enix’s best games of all time, and an essential JRPG.
Resident Evil 4 Remake
Resident Evil 4 Remake is another big budget horror action game that surprised me with how good it plays on Steam Deck. It is also the only portable experience for the remake right now. Having now played it on PC, PS5, and Steam Deck, the DualSense features definitely make the PS5 version my favorite, but Resident Evil 4 Remake is so good on Steam Deck, and it plays without issues from the get go. The game itself has a few frustrating moments, but it still gets my highest possible recommendation for Steam Deck owners hoping to experience the reimagining of a classic on the go.
Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society
You might be wondering why this is in both our Switch and Steam Deck lists for the best games of the year so far. Well, Labyrinth of Galleria is a special game, and it is worth your time and money if you have even the smallest interest in dungeon RPGs. While it was very good on Switch, it is perfect on Steam Deck with absolutely no issues. You can even experience it at 1440p without issues over HDMI like I did in my testing. The story, characters, and tons of depth in Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society make it one of the best games of the year so far on any platform.
For some reason, Dredge wasn’t on my radar until closer to launch when a friend told me what it was. Being told something feels like Disco Elysium with fishing is probably the easiest way to get me interested in anything. Dredge is a fishing adventure game about going outside your comfort zone, exploring the unknown, Lovecraftian horror, and being at zen. I played it and loved it on Xbox, but it feels perfect to experience on the go, and I’ve been replaying and adoring it on Steam Deck. Dredge is easily one of the best indies I’ve played in a long time.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure
When writing about why The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure is one of the best Switch games of the year so far, I covered how it and Trails from Zero form a fantastic duology of essentials for any JRPG fan. The Switch version was a big step up over the PS4 release, and the Steam Deck version can take things even further if you play handheld and docked through HDMI. The PC version is definitive, and it shines even at higher resolution and frame rates on Steam Deck. Trails to Azure is sublime on both Switch and Steam Deck.
The fast-paced 2D platformer Pizza Tower feels like a modern take on Wario Land with its amazing pixel art, platforming, and catchy soundtrack. I love the humor, aesthetic, and it is the perfect game to play on the go. Right now Pizza Tower is only available on PC, so it being this good on Steam Deck is as good as a slice of pepperoni. I’ll be surprised if Pizza Tower isn’t on my best games to play on Steam Deck list in December. If you don’t like how it looks and think it isn’t for you, at least listen to Pizza Deluxe from the soundtrack.
Yes, Chained Echoes didn’t come out in 2023, but it released very close to the end of last year, which was too late for me to have played enough for our lists back then. I’ve owned it on PC since day one, and recently got into it on Switch as well. Shaun said Chained Echoes was “absolutely incredible”, and he was right. Chained Echoes gets it. I see tons of “throwback JRPG” like indie games, but few manage to actually deliver. Chained Echoes perfectly adds its own charm and ideas to what I love about JRPGs. I won’t even hesitate to say Chained Echoes with its gorgeous world design, unique mechanics, and great music is an essential on both Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch. Truly a gem.
I’m sure there are a few more games I didn’t get around to playing on Steam Deck this year, so feel free to let me know if there’s something you think I should play or missed out in this feature. Thanks for reading.
Interested in more Steam Deck coverage? Check out our Steam Deck recommendations!