Best Steam Deck games 2024: top picks for Valve's handheld console

Hi-Fi Rush main cast pose while fighting in a colourful, bustling futuristic city
(Image credit: Bethesda)

The best Steam Deck games let you enjoy some of the best Steam games on a travel-friendly handheld device, so you can take these fantastic titles on your travels with you. 

While you may not be able to find every single Steam game available on the Steam Deck, there is a massive amount of choice for players to browse. Some of the best indie games, as well as the best story games, are included in this list, so you don't have to worry about running out of titles to enjoy. 

The Steam Deck is a fantastic gaming device and something that will appeal to many as a sleek and more portable alternative to a gaming laptop. However, one of its biggest perks is the huge library of games that can be enjoyed on the go. 

So, if you've recently treated yourself to a Steam Deck or are just looking to expand your library of games, check this list for all the must-have games that are available to play right now. 

The best Steam Deck games of 2024

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Hotline Miami chicken masked characters holding a baseball bat. The moon rises behind them.

(Image credit: Devolver Digital)

10. Hotline Miami

A great - yet gory - indie gem
Why we love it

Hotline Miami's replayability is what makes it a must play, especially when you can play it on the go with the Steam Deck. It's incredibly fun and has never lost its charm, so it's a must-add to your Steam Deck library if you want some high stakes action.

Hotline Miami is like a neon-hued fever dream, a top-down ultra-violent game with an equally out-there story and a brilliant soundtrack. It's also perfect for the Steam Deck thanks to its addictive gameplay loop.

You play a nameless assassin tasked by a mysterious voice to take down Russian mobsters in an alternate 1980s Miami. You'll die, a lot, but with an instant restart, you'll keep coming back for more as you learn the levels. It's been out for a while now, but it's super cheap on Steam, and it's one of the games we keep returning to when playing the Steam Deck. Its sequel, which is just as addictive, is also worth installing if you've played the first and want some alternative action to sink your teeth into. 

Tunic stands in a brightly lit forest clearing holding a sword and shield

(Image credit: FInji)

9. Tunic

A fantastic Zelda-inspired game for the Steam Deck
Why we love it

Tunic is an incredibly inventive isometric puzzle game, and you are consistently challenged to think outside of the box as you work your way through its content. It'll keep you up at night trying to solve its puzzles, but the gratification you get when you do unlock something is unmatched. 

Tunic is an adorable isometric adventure game. You play as a young fox going on a big adventure, exploring dungeons, and fighting monsters on the way. This is a game that has charm by the bucketful, and the obvious Legend of Zelda influence means this is an ideal game for handheld play. 

In addition, one of the biggest drawbacks of the Steam Deck is that while Xbox and some PlayStation games come to PC (and Steam), there's no way to officially play Nintendo games. With Tunic, this is one of the closest ways to doing that, and you'll get the same childlike glee from jumping into its content as you would from any of the best DS games

A boat sails out of a cove as the sun sets in the distance

(Image credit: Team17)

8. Dredge

A fun fishing sim with dark undercurrents
Why we love it

Dredge is a haunting addition to any gamers library. Despite it looking like a fairly innocent indie title from the get-go, it's content will keep you on the edge of your seat, which is what makes it so special. It manages to trigger your fight or flight without necessarily jumping out at you, marking it as one of our favorites. 

Thanks to its spooky atmosphere, lovely graphics, and addictive gameplay loop, Dredge has been one of the most-played games on our Steam Deck recently. While it starts off as a simple fishing game, things quickly turn sinister when darkness falls. We won't spoil any surprises, but there are some clever tricks that the game uses to make sailing at night a tense - and sometimes even scary - experience, which means you'll be nervously keeping an eye on the time to make sure you make it back to a dock before nightfall.

The process of collecting and storing fish is fun and will keep you coming back for more, and it runs brilliantly on the Steam Deck. With its first DLC launching in November, there will be more than enough content for you to get to grips with too. We can't recommend this game enough.

Sonic and Tails race across an orange track, against a dark, starry night backdrop

(Image credit: Sega)

7. Sonic Mania

Sega's best game in ages
Why we love it

Sonic Mania encapsulates everything you want from a Sonic game, so fans of the series are bound to fall in love with what it offers. It's bright, fun, and perfectly Sonic, and it's hard to put it down once you pick it up. 

Sonic Mania is a love letter to classic Sonic games of the 16-bit era, and it's one of our favorite games to play on the Steam Deck. If you think Valve's handheld looks like a beefed-up Sega Game Gear, then Sonic Mania makes that comparison even more apt.

Taking graphics and audio inspired by Sonic's iconic games on the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive for those of us who lived in countries with the cooler name) and mixing it with some modern twists, this is one of the best games Sega has released in years and proves Sonic is best played in 2D.

Chai smacking a large robot with a guitar, causing a large explosion

(Image credit: Xbox Studios)

6. Hi-Fi Rush

Push your rhythm to the limit
Why we love it

Hi-Fi Rush is a fantastic, thrilling rhythm game that will push you to the limit. Full of fantastic characters and colorful settings, there's not much more you could ask of this game.

Hi-Fi Rush is one of the newest rhythm games on the block and, within a year of release, has quickly made a name for itself. You play as the rockstar Chai, who, alongside a group of rebels, is set on taking on an evil megacorp and its army of robots. 

There will be numerous challenges in your path to defeating the bad guys, which will all be based on some kind of rhythm challenge. It's the perfect mix of action and fun for those who love colorful and engaging fights.

It also runs really well on the Steam Deck; the 50 refresh rate works perfectly for dynamic and rapid fights while allowing players to save on battery. If you need any extra help with stability, then running it at a medium preset and turning dynamic shadows to low will help. 

Kratos turns back to look over his shoulder, at Atreus who sits in a rowboat

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

5. God of War

One of Sony's finest plays brilliantly on the Steam Deck
Why we love it

God of War is a must-play for anyone looking to sink themselves into a reimagination of mythology, and it plays absolutely wonderfully on the Steam Deck. It's easy to lose yourself in this title when you're not tethered to a sofa and home console, so if you haven't played it yet - you really ought to. 

When God of War first launched on the PS4 it blew us all away by reimagining Kratos. Instead of an over-the-top action hero ripped straight out of Greek myth, he was now a brooding father, somehow transported to Norse mythology. It was a masterstroke, and the deeper, more mature story and incredible graphics meant this was one of Sony's finest PlayStation games.

Now available on Steam, God of War is also a fantastic showcase for the Steam Deck. It shows just how capable Valve's handheld is, as it's able to handle this graphically-ambitious game. Due to its cinematic story, it's still best played on a big screen, but it's a great game to show off the Steam Deck.

A survivor wears a green hooded cloak, and holds a brown whip weapon

(Image credit: Poncle)

4. Vampire Survivors

Grab a garlic and run
Why we love it

This fast-paced roguelike bullet hell is addictingly fun. With almost endless combinations, it's all up to you how you make your way through each level.  

Vampire Survivors was and continues to be a smash-hit indie game, with it appearing on our best roguelike games list and our best indie game list. This high praise is thanks to its expertly polished and engaging fights, which are frenetic yet fun. 

There have also been tons of recent updates that have expanded the maps, characters, and abilities found in this indie arcade game. The most recent patch brought a new batch for the Seal powerup and four new music tracks for fans to enjoy. 

If you want quick matches that you can dive head-first into repeatedly, then you need to check out Vampire Survivors; you won't be disappointed.

A lamb from Cult of the Lamb swinging a sword

(Image credit: Devolver Digital)

3. Cult of the Lamb

Iconic platformer get's a remaster
Why we love it

Cult of the Lamb is an iconic action roguelike, but one of its greatest assets is its visuals. Massive Monster has ensured that the style of this bloody cultist game is hilariously adorable and aesthetically pleasing. 

In Cult of the Lamb, you are tasked with creating your very own cult in a land of false prophets. You can venture out into the terrifying and unpredictable world to expand your reach and recruit new members, as well as see what monstrosities lie in wait. 

You can also collect resources that can be used to create new structures that will help you appease the gods as your cult performs dark rituals in the dead of night. You'll also have to fight against nonbelievers who wish to impede on your cult and way of living. 

Overall, Cult of the Lamb is a fantastically fun roguelike and a brilliant addition to the Steam Deck; if you haven't given it a go yet, we'd highly recommend diving in and seeing what all the fuss is about for yourself. 

A character in a space suit plays the banjo while seated around a roaring fire

(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)

2. Outer Wilds

There's music in the stars
Why we love it

Outer Wilds is a truly one of a kind space exploration game, one that'll leave you wide-eyed and more than a little existential by the time the credits roll. It's essentially a physics-based puzzle game, set inside a living, breathing universe. Great for those looking for a feeling of awe when faced with the big questions in life.

Outer Wilds is a somewhat difficult game to talk about, given it's best experienced when the player knows as little about what's to come as possible. It's essentially a sprawling puzzle game set in a Universe that's destined for destruction every 22-minutes.

As you fly your rickety spacecraft from planet to planet, you'll unravel a mystery that spans centuries, one that might just hold the key to saving all life as you know it. Primarily, you'll be scanning points of interest, before having an aha moment and unlocking new places to visit. Rather smartly, the game can technically be completed from the jump, you just won't know how to do it until you've learned as much as you can about the imminent calamity.

The Steam Deck is a great place to experience Outer Wilds for the first time, just make sure you stick some headphones in to enjoy what is absolutely one of the best video game soundtracks this side of the millennium.

Margit the Fell Omen winds up an attack with their huge hammer axe

(Image credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment)

Elden Ring

A modern masterpiece on the Steam Deck
Why we love it

Not only is Elden Ring one of the best Steam Deck games, it's simply one of the best games in general. You'll lose yourself within its open world, and it'll keep you coming back to explore new sections. The pick up and go nature of the Steam Deck also means you'll be able to sink some hours in regardless of where you are. 

Elden Ring is probably the best game on this list, but the reason it's not at the top as this is a title that's best played on a bigger screen. You also need to cap the frame rate at 30fps for the best experience, half the frame rate it usually runs at.

However, playing Elden Ring on the Steam Deck can be a great experience. Like God of War, it's a thrill to have such a gorgeously designed game running on a handheld console, and it certainly puts most Nintendo Switch games to shame. Also, while you may not want to play the entire game on Steam Deck, we found it's great to pick up and play when you want to farm runes (the in-game currency). If you're like us and are currently addicted, having it on the Steam Deck lets you get your hit when you're away from your PC. Thanks to Steam's Cloud Saves, it means any progress you make on the Steam Deck will be reflected when you play it on your gaming PC as well.

Best Steam Deck games: FAQs 

Kratos and Atreus fighting a troll in God of War

(Image credit: Sony)

Is it worth buying a Steam Deck in 2024?

If you find yourself constantly on the go but still want to enjoy some fantastic AAA games then a Steam Deck is a great purchase. 

Can you play Forza Horizon 5 on Steam Deck?

Both Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Horizon 5 can be run on a Steam Deck, you can do this through the Steam store using the default app. 

How we made our best Steam Deck games list

Over here at TechRadar Gaming we play a lot of games on PC, so when the Steam Deck came out many of us jumped at the chance to enjoy all our favorite Steam games in a new way. 

We're also incredibly passionate about combining tech and games so any chance to compare the two is great. This means you can trust our lists, and know that we've put the hours, and thought - and excruciating decisions - into making these lists. We'll also be constantly curating our choices for top PS5 games so keep it here if you want up-to-date recommendations.

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Elie Gould
Features Writer

Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications. 

Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased. 

With contributions from