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Best games to try out on your Steam Deck

Actually getting your console soon? Check these out!

Reviewed By: Kevin Pocock

Last Updated on December 1, 2023
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With the Steam Deck now launching on Feb 25th, people are going to be hunting through their libraries for games to try out and we want to wade into the conversation to say that you should probably start considering games that you wouldn’t really want to play cemented to your desk. 

Yes, we’re going to be looking at a few games that might be available on the Nintendo Switch or elsewhere, but run and look better in a PC environment. Of course, we’ll be checking to see if they actually run on Proton/Steam Deck first, as the device is running a form of Linux. 

Valve’s Proton is a layer for Linux that adapts previous Windows-bound games to run natively on the operating system, although as developers aren’t intending to develop for Linux as of yet, there is still a lot of tweaking and tinkering to be done. However, most games seem to work pretty well, so we’ll be keeping to Proton’s Gold rating or above, just to ease the headaches. 

Atelier Ryza 1 & 2 

Dense and succulent, the Atelier games have been around for a surprisingly long amount of time, to the point that if you actually look up how many there have been, you’d think you’ve landed on another planet. 

However, the Ryza titles are the most approachable of the series, ditching the obtuse nature of previous titles and allowing players to pretty much explore at their own pace, rather than the timer that would loom over you in other games. 

The first Ryza game is like if you had a Japanese role-playing game on fast forward, immediately ditching the acquisition of a full party over the course of a few hours for dumping straight into the mix and then layering on concepts outside of battle, before circling back around for more things about battling. 

I’m recommending this for the Steam Deck because even though the Switch version is fine, having the option to have a better looking, more stable version of the game as well as access to buying the DLC from different sources to then import as codes into Steam is such a boon. 

There’s also the fact that grinding in this game can take some time and having to be sat at your PC all day, redoing stuff over and over, when you could easily be out and about or sat comfortably while you do something else is more than enough to say that you should play this on the Deck. 

But it isn’t all grinding! The story is very sweet, if a little long in the tooth, but the crafting system is second to none, as you can alter the very nature of every item you make by deciding what to focus on. 

The second game is a little more of the same but alters the formula enough with some big improvements and a genuine mystery that can be enthralling to really make it worth it. Dungeons, battles and other activities are all more enticing and I dare say, the sequel is a better game than the first!

Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding is a complex mess. It is both a great game with tonnes of missions to take on, all of which seem very doable on a handheld system, but it is tied down by maybe one of the downright most rotten, ridiculous and ego-stroking stories to ever grace video games. 

When I say that, I say it in a loving way because by being on the go or somewhere other than trapped in a computer chair, you won’t have to suffer the cutscenes alone. Sit down, share them with the family and then also show them the bits where Norman Reedus has a wee in the deep Icelandic version of the Americas. 

The actual game itself might look a little thin on the surface, but the total control over managing Norman Reedus on his expeditions is far and away the most thrilling bits. Being hunted by ghosts, while also having to deliver a pizza that can’t go horizontal, so you need to balance it on your back with your equipment and have a fetus cry, it can get stressful. 

But with the sheer amount of stuff to get through, doing this with a Steam Deck wherever you go seems like a better option than having to limit yourself to your PC. 

And as ridiculous as the story gets, it can definitely pass the time in spades if you’re on a long train journey or something similar. 

Yakuza Series

I really think you should experience the Yakuza games on the big screen when it comes to the story beats, but the moment-to-moment gameplay of having to run around the recreations of Japan’s cities can get a little tedious if you’re after everything. 

This is especially true the further you get into the series, because oh yes, I cannot just recommend one without the seven others. Start from Kiwami and then go back to 0, as these are similar in style. It’ll be a weird leap to Kiwami 2 (the remake of the second game) as it uses Yakuza 6’s engine and style, as you go through the Collection (3, 4 and 5) that originally launched on PS3 and eventually made their way both stateside and to other platforms in the last couple years. 

Like a Dragon (7) is an entirely different beast and you’ll be thankful to be curled up on the couch, Netflix on, the game going as you play a more traditional JRPG instead of the action-packed previous games. Much longer, different in scope and all done in good fun, Like a Dragon is made for portability. 

The story of Kazuma Kiryu and the whole cast of Yakuza is some of the best legitimate storytelling in games, flipping from the uber-serious yakuza drama from cinema to silly hijinks in the side quests, offering some levity from the constant tensions of the main story. 

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Sekiro and the below God of War sort of sit weirdly on this list in comparison to the others, as the others have been more focused on the length of the game, these two are more along the lines of “You’ll want to have a go whenever you can”. 

Sekiro in particular falls into this camp. The game comes from From Software, developers of Dark Souls, who are known for their tremendously difficult titles. Sekiro is no different, with its ninja action either making you feel like a god or making you feel like a fool. 

Each actual segment in the game is fairly short, with a lot of your deaths not particularly taking much progress away other than maybe one or two roadblocks to take care of in the meantime. This means that if you’re consistently dying at one portion, it might just click while you’re sat at your grandma’s, waiting for dinner on a Sunday, rather than bashing your head into the wall closest to your monitors. 

Because of this small amount of repetition and the continuation promises over both the Steam Deck and then your more traditional PC, I think working through Sekiro on the Deck is going to be a boon to those struggling with it. 

God of War 

While I think that God of War is not a particularly difficult game, there’s some end game things that require you to have a lot of patience and a lot of time on your hands to work through them. As with Sekiro, just working through these on the go seems like it will be great, but also, having God of War and its robust story wherever you are in the world at that time, is going to be monstrously fun. 

I do recommend that you bring some headphones and use it to impress your family who are wondering why you just bought a nearly 500 dollar mini-PC instead of getting a grip.

Joel is a a lover of janky games, Magic the Gathering, and going down rabbit holes. For PC Guide he has written about peripherals, the Steam Deck, retro games, news and more.