Tales of Arise's Beyond the Dawn Expansion was provided by Bandai Namco for review. The base game was purchased by us. Thank you!

I have been a fan of JRPGs ever since I can remember and I credit two series for this. Kingdom Hearts, which is still one of my favorite games of all time, and the Tales series. Specifically, Tales of Symphonia, which released on the Gamecube in 2004, blew me away with its storytelling and visuals. While there have been tons of advancements in both narrative development and visuals in the genre, Symphonia will always have a special place in my heart, and I am happy that Tales of Arise doesn't spoil that view in the slightest.

As the Tales series has progressed, the overall narrative has stuck to more generic tropes in the JRPG series, and Tales of Arise does continue that. While I still found the story of liberating an enslaved people to be enjoyable, it is the characters that make it shine. The characters are interesting and engaging, and the side conversations they have makes each one stand out. I loved these moments and found myself feeling much more connected to each of the six charactes from these skits that I ended up enjoying the story even more.

NOTE: Each Tales game is its own story. While they have overarching themes, vocabulary, and gameplay elements, the stories do not intersect and each one acts as a standalone.


Then we have the combat, which I really loved. It feels like an evolution of the series, requiring more movement and acrobatics instead of just button mashing. You can button mash if you choose, but it isn't as easy and will need more strategy and thought to make sure you don't die. The artes (special moves) and way you utilize your team in combat is enhanced by the visual style and flashiness. I love the gritty, anime-esque aesthetic that the team went for, which made combat and just running around enjoyable.

Tales of Arise: Beyond the Dawn Expansion

The Beyond the Dawn expansion for Tales of Arise continues this trend and personally, I found it quite satisfying. If you enjoy the base game and want more, this is the perfect way to continue it. The story continues to be a bit generic, but it is enjoyable all the same. You will meet a young girl named Nazamil who is bound to fall under a curse, and now it is up to your crew to save her. The game takes place a year after the original game, so I won't mention any more of the story due to spoilers, but it was nice getting back with the crew again.

The expansion doesn't do a whole not new and will see you going through the old map, but if you liked the base game, you will enjoy the expansion. The one thing I will say that I wish I could do is use my old save file. The expansion has you using a set progress instead of carrying over what you accomplished in the main game. As someone who grinds, I would have loved to bring my overpowered team into the new expansion, but it didn't harm my overall experience. I would say the expansion is worth it if you loved the game already, but I would still find enjoyment in it as I love JRPGs in general. Thankfully, it is great to play on the Steam Deck.

Tales of Arise - Steam Deck Performance

For the type of game, Tales of Arise runs much better than I initially expected. With it being an open-world game, it can run at a decent framerate, but it does have some flaws. When testing, I also noticed that some settings being changed may help a little, but completely changed the overall look of the game, so I felt a lot of the settings shouldn't be changed.

With Settings Changed
Without Settings Changed
Without Settings Changed
With Settings Changed

Recommended Settings

For the recommended build, I tested a bunch of different setting combinations to get it as high as possible. The only setting I noticed that gave me any worthwhile boost, other than the render resolution, was shadow quality. I decided turning this to medium was enough to keep the visual quality and still get a mostly solid 40 FPS.

There are some instances and areas where this dips, but it isn't often and doesn't affect gameplay enough. Framerate can dip during some combat scenarios, but it also shoots straight back up to 40 as quickly as it goes down. I enjoyed the extra smoothness, even at the cost of battery life.

Battery/Quaity Build

Usually, I would gravitate more towards a battery saving build for my recommended, but I came across to many areas where 30 FPS would dip unless the TDP limit was uncapped. So, this is a nice build to use if you are trying to save as much battery life as you can, but there may still be dips here and there in certain scenarios. For what it's worth, I prefer a better framerate if I may be encountering dips here and there.


Other than video settings, you can change the difficulty at will, input queueing time, vibration settings, map orientation, map markers, subtitle toggles, camera controls and speed, volume adustment, and key bindings.

Tales of Arise doesn't support 16:10 resolutions unfortunately, but it does have full controller and cloud save support!


If you are a fan of the Tales series, Tales of Arise will feel like an incredible evolution and great continuation for what the series can become. The world is great and the combat is exceptional. While the story can feel a bit generic, the characters and the way they interact more than make up for it. The expansion is a great way to continue the game if you liked the original, but it doesn't add enough for those who didn't enjoy to come back for another round.

It plays qute well on the Steam Deck for the most part, which is fantastic due to how big the game can feel, which is fantastic with all things considering. There aren't a ton of settings that can be changed due to how drastically the visuals can deteriorate, but it doesn't need many changes to enjoy!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back.

Sea of Stars was provided by Sabotage Studio for review. Thank you!

When leaning into nostalgia of popular games, you are opening yourself up for comparisons with games that are hard to beat. With Sea of Stars clearly influenced by JRPG classics like Chrono Trigger and Star Ocean, the game is going up against some of the most renowned titles in the genre. But I am pleased to say that Sea of Stars stands on its own as a unique, beautiful, and sometimes simple, RPG that rightfully deserves its own place next to the greats.


In the game, you follow Valerie and Zane on a quest that sees them become Solstice warriors and go on a quest to save the world. Along the way, you will meet new party members, travel to various different worlds, and grow as you fight and explore with your team. Sea of Stars does an incredible job handling the tones of each location, and while it does well with most of them, it feels like the more dramatic or sadder moments didn’t have as much impact as I would have liked. Regardless, I did feel the weight of their actions and the camaraderie the team shared, I just wish we had a bit more complexity to round-out each character.

The combat is a fantastic blend of simplicity and engagement, even if it can start feeling a little too simple towards the end of the game. You and your team will fight enemies in turn-based combat where you can attack regularly, use skills or items, or boost your attacks with life mana. As you fight, you can get experience to level up and food to cook that will heal you if used. You can also break through some enemy skills by hitting them with specific attacks.


The simple nature of combat, and building your character, is a mix of good and bad. Gone are the complexities of tons of different status effects with specific skills or items being able to cure them and having to manage everything all at once, but as a trade off, characters can’t change classes and you can’t pick and choose skills. Leveling up just increases all of their stats to some degree, as well as gives you an option to increase one of them a bit further. If you’ve played Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga, you know what I’m talking about.

Outside of combat, you will explode the incredibly vibrant, beautiful world that awaits you. Running through the wonderfully crafted lands, finding hidden secrets, taking on mysterious bosses, and acquiring legendary loot is one of the highlights of the game and completely captured my interest and excitement as I got to see what parts of the world awaited me. I even looked forward to backtracking to find whatever I could!


Overall, even with the simplicity in RPG elements, Sea of Stars succeeds in telling an engaging tale set in a gorgeous world. It does it’s job well, along with making sure it doesn’t feel too much like it’s infouenceszc but still enough to see the love of these games that was poured into it. And playing on the Steam Deck is by far the best way to play.

Sea of Stars - Steam Deck Performance

With no issues whatsoever, Sea of Stars plays perfectly on the Steam Deck. At 60 FPS and a battery life of around 5 hours, there are no compromises needed to enjoy this epic RPG on-the-go. This is great news too because playing this in the palm of your hands is definitely my favorite way to enjoy the game.

It doesn’t support 16:10 resolutions, so there are black bars, but it does fully support controllers and cloud saves. I was also initially worried about text size being a problem, but after playing, I can confidently say it’s not bad at all.


Sea of Stars succeeds in ways that a lot of other games influenced by classic titles can fail. It takes what made these games great and stands apart with its story and world that stand on their own. There is a little bit too much simplicity, especially as you get to the end of the 30+ hour campaign, but I never felt sad by it. This is an amazing game and it is a joy being able to play it so well on the Steam Deck. After all is said and done, I would easily consider this an essential to your Deck library.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety of game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back!

Atelier Marie Remake was provided by Koei Tecmo and OnePR for review. Thank you!

It's time to experience the first game in the Atelier series like never before! Atelier Marie Remake: The Alchemist of Salburg begins with our titular protagonist, Marie, failing to study alchemy, but when she is given an atelier by her professor, she will have to complete an item to impress and finally pass. Before that, she will need to improve her skills by practicing, but this will mean taking part in turn-based battles, quests, and synthesizing. Will this be enough for Marie to graduate within 5 years? Only time will tell!

As the title suggests, this version of Atelier Marie is a full remake of the first game in this long-running series, which came out in 1997 in Japan only. This release not only brings it over from Japan, it also updates the visuals entirely into new 3D models of characters and locations, an Unlimited Mode to play at a more relaxed pace, new events and interactions with characters, and a lot of quality of life improvements to make collecting, moving around, and general gameplay much more enjoyable in this modern day.

As I have said before, I am a bit biased as I do enjoy the Atelier series as a whole. The gameplay loop of gathering, crafting, and turn-based battles are such a joy and Atelier Marie Remake continues this trend. Just like the others, you will go out into the world, take on quests, hire party members, and go out to different locations to gather ingredients and synthesize new items. This is a pretty faithful remake of the original game, so battles and crafting will be a bit more simple when compared to the newer Ryza or Sophie games. The game also has time fly really fast when doing almost any action, but with unlimited mode, it can feel much more relaxed. There is also a nice photo mode, which is fun to play around with.


I am also a fan of the new aesthetic for the game. The 3D Chibi-style blends well with the scenery, colors, and overall feel of the game. I hope Koei Tecmo does this with older titles that would benefit from this makeover, which is essentially the first 10 games in the series (before Rorona). If you are an Atelier fan, this is going to be a must-have and with the unlimited mode, I would consider this a fantastic starting point for those who want to get into the series. Just like other games in the series though, the performance does need some tweaking on the Steam Deck.

The Atelier GPU Utilization Fix

Just like the other newer Atelier games, Atelier Marie Remake will need the GPU Utilization fix to improve how the GPU is used. This will not only improve performance tremendously, but allow you to use the GPU to its full potential. Here is how to fix it:

  1. Go into Desktop mode and Download the atfix.zip from Github
  2. Put the d3d11.dll file in the main install directory of Atelier Ryza 2. You can find this in Desktop mode by right clicking the game, hovering over "Manage", and then clicking "Browse Local Files".
  3. Either in Desktop mode or going back into Game mode, go into properties and put in this launch option:
WINEDLLOVERRIDES="d3d11=n,b" %command%

You will also need to force compatibility with Proton GE. To do this, you can follow our guide which explains what it is and how to get and update it!

Atelier Marie Remake - Steam Deck Performance

Like the other Atelier games, and some other Koei Tecmo games, there are a couple of issues the game still has. First, the screen will shake when getting into it. To fix this, you will need to change the Window settings to something else. For our builds, I would change to full screen and then back to default. This will also stabilize performance a bit too.

Regardless, Atelier Marie Remake has some performance issues when this is stabilized. At the highest settings, which is default, the game hits around 28 - 32 FPS with a drain of 23W. This isn't great at all, but we do have a solid amount of wiggle room to modify.

After testing, I have found 3 builds that I feel really highlight the best ways to enjoy the game, but as a quick heads up, the only way to save the settings you change is to quit the game normally through the diary or in-game. If you exit the game using SteamOS, the settings won't save:

Recommended Build

Starting with the recommended, we have a battery focused build. My focus here was to get the game running a stable 30, but aim for a TDP of 6. This is achievable with primarily low settings and a 960x540 resolution with SteamOS's FSR. Due to the low settings, this is by far the most stable way to play the game, but it suffers from some drops when going to new areas. While the framerate build came close to being my recommended, I decided to stick with the battery due to its increased stability.

Quality Build

Next, I decided to go for a quality focused build that keeps a native 1280x720 resolution with as high quality settings as possible. With no TDP limit and a 30 FPS cap, I was able to keep most settings on high and only reduce shadows, effects, and grass density to standard. The drain ranged from 14W - 22W at times, but kept a solid 30 most of the time with the same drops experienced in the recommended build.

Framerate Build

Finally, we have the framerate build where I emphasized 40 FPS. This is made possible with a 1080x600 resolution with SteamOS's FSR on, a combination of medium/low settings, and a 40 FPS limit. All of this makes for an experience that stays smooth 95% of the time. The other 5% is usually when loading into new areas and is common across the game, but it doesn't feel as noticeable when playing.

The game doesn't support 16x10 resolutions, so there will be black bars, but it does have cloud save and controller support.


Atelier Marie Remake is a fantastic re-imagining of the beginning of the series. Not only does it stay faithful to the original, it enhances it with great new features to make it more relaxing and easier to play. It is more basic than the newer entries into the series, but it is fantastic nonetheless. If you are a fan of the Atelier series, or want to jump into the series, this will be an easy recommendation. And with some changes to the settings, playing on the Steam Deck will be easy and enjoyable!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back.

3 years after the events of the first game, Ryza gets a mysterious request to investigate some ruins that could be related to alchemy. She leaves her island and makes for the royal capital, getting ready to head into a new adventure to discover the mysteries of these ruins and how a meeting with a strange creature will completely change her life.

Just like the previous game, Atelier Ryza 2 will have you going through a decent story, fighting creatures and synthesizing/crafting materials. There are also new improvements with this entry like new field actions like climbing and underwater diving, an improved battle system for faster and more thrilling battles, and several new synthesis systems to optimize the mechanic even further.

Compared to the previous game, which we reviewed, the improvements make Ryza 2 a much nicer JRPG to play. While the story is nice to play, but a bit predictable, the combat feels significantly more fluid and flashy. Being able to quickly swap characters and quickly use unique skills to take down enemies. The visuals are still similar to the prequel and look wonderful on the Deck screen too. I personally enjoyed the story, but it did feel like there were a lot of cutscenes and the characters fell into some pretty recognizable tropes, but it was overall very competent. And with some tweaks, it can be very enjoyable on the Steam Deck.

Atelier Ryza 2 - Pre-Patch Performance

Playing Atelier Ryza 2 right out of the box results in the same glaring issue that its predecessor has, low GPU utilization. Because of this, the game will internally cap at a 16W drain and tanked performance that generally won't hit above 30 FPS. The only way to make this playable is to set everything on low and the resolution to 960x540. It can stick to 30 most of the time, and can even go up to 40 or 60 in some areas, but there are still some spots that have those drops.

The game looks horrible like this though and I wouldn't recommend playing it like this. Luckily, we can use the same fix that we used for the previous game and it will make a monumental change!

Fixing GPU Utilization Issue

To fix this issue, we need to utilize the fix made by doitsujin. This fix actually works for most Atelier games that have this problem and they are all fixed in the same way!

  1. Go into Desktop mode and Download the atfix.zip from Github
  2. Put the d3d11.dll file in the main install directory of Atelier Ryza 2. You can find this in Desktop mode by right clicking the game, hovering over "Manage", and then clicking "Browse Local Files".
  3. Either in Desktop mode or going back into Game mode, go into properties and put in this launch option:
WINEDLLOVERRIDES="d3d11=n,b" %command%

You will also need to force compatibility with Proton GE. To do this, you can follow our guide which explains what it is and how to get and update it!

Optimizing the Adventure

With that out of the way and the game running much better, I set off to start the optimizing process. Before changing anything else, I first wanted to figure out which graphics setting affected performance most. In Atelier Ryza 2, Shadow quality is the culprit here. When turning shadows lower, I didn't see a reduction in the shadows in the world, but the quality of the shadows projected would go down. This didn't really affect the overall feel and look of the world, but could make a 30 FPS build be able to run at 50 or 60 when set from High to Low.

Shadows High
Shadows Low
Shadows Low
Shadows High

The other graphical settings did affect performance, but shadows was a monumental change that was a necessity to turn down to hit stable higher framerates.

Choosing a recommended build was a bit hard for me. While I liked the quality build and it looked fantastic, the Battery and Framerate build were the two I really couldn't decide between. On one hand, the battery would save a bit more and had slightly better quality, but the Framerate build was much smoother and had similar battery life.

I ultimately went with the Framerate build as my recommended. The game feels significantly smoother than the other builds and still has a very good looking quality to it. On top of that, the battery averages around 13W - 15W, with some minor spikes going close to 17 when in town. This brings battery life to around 2.5 - 3 hours. Low shadows and a 1080x640 resolution helped solidify the 50 FPS and keep battery down for most of the areas.

The battery build is a close second. Using similar settings, but with texture quality on high and Ambient Occlusion and Bloom on, we can get a solid 40 FPS and push the TDP limit to 8, keeping battery drain around 11W - 13W for a full battery life of 3 - 3.5 hours.

Now for the quality, I decided to keep 40 FPS. While I was testing, I realized that by just turning down Shadows to "Standard", which is the same as Medium, and keeping everything else on the highest settings, including resolution at 1280x720, the game ran significantly more stable and saved a lot of battery life. After testing it, I found it was able to even hold 40 FPS with a TDP limit of 10. While I probably could have kept shadows on high and set a higher limit, I felt this was a fantastic compromises for an overall better experience.

While the game plays really well, I did notice some little nuisances I had with the playthrough that should be noted.

Saving Settings and The Jumping Conundrum

One of my HUGE grievances with the previous game was the need for a launcher window before starting the game. This was the only way to change graphical settings and I was not a fan. In Atelier Ryza 2, the graphical options or "System Settings" is integrated into the game, which is awesome...but every time I completely exit the game, it will switch back to max settings. I initially thought I just couldn't find the right button to save the game, but I was able to go into a loaded game, come back to the title screen, and my settings would still be there. So it seems you will have to put these settings in each time you start up the game.

The other odd thing I noticed is that jumping caused some drops in performance. This happened primarily on the quality build, but it does show some lesser movement on the other two. You can increase TDP limits to fix this, but since it only really happens when jumping, I felt it would be better to just deal with it and not increase the overall battery drain thanks to jumping.


Other than these, I didn't have any control issues or visual bugs. The game doesn't support 16:10 resolutions, so we are stuck with the black bars, and my game did freeze once, but it was overall okay for the rest of my playthrough.


Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends & the Secret Fairy is a wonderful continuation of the prequel that not only refines the mechanics, but expands them with multiple different improvements. If you enjoyed Ryza 1, you will absolutely enjoy this game. And while you can play this one without playing the one before, you might not understand references or the characters as much as you should. The game also runs really well on the Steam Deck, as long as the GPU fix is in there. Regardless, this JRPG series has always been one I enjoyed and I am happy to say that Atelier Ryza 2 continues that.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back.

Octopath Traveler 2 was provided to us by Square Enix for reviewing. Thank you!

Octopath Traveler 2 is a turn-based JRPG set in the gorgeous land of Solistia. Taking control of 8 travelers, all with their own stories and unique talents, you will embark on a journey across a beautiful world using the unique HD-2D graphics that have become synonymous with the Octopath series. Utilize each characters "Path Actions" to interact with the NPCs and the world in different ways. On top of that, you will level up and fight battles using skills and leveraging the Break and Boost system to strategically power up your attacks. It's time to explore the land and discover the stories encompassing this world.

While I do personally love JRPGs, I have to hand it to Square Enix and ACQUIRE Corp, this game is a MASSIVE improvement over the original game. The stories feel significantly more thought out, some nice QoL features, and the added mechanics are a nice touch, like changing the time of day with the press of a button. On top of that, the core gameplay is still as addicting as before, the visuals are STUNNING, and the soundtrack is incredible.

And the more I play, the more hooked I get. The HD-2D pixel art is phenomenal and really makes each area in the game pop, while the music sets the tone for each story, area, and fight. The combat is still pretty similar to the old game, but has some nice added mechanics like the Latent Power (ultimate skills). The job licenses and water travel shake things up a bit too, and personally, I love the additions. Overall, this is one of my favorite JRPGs that I have played in the last couple years, and playing it on the Steam Deck feels like a dream come true.

Octopath Traveler 2 - Best on Deck...With a Twist

So this was actually a tough one to decide on. The game plays amazing right out of the box due to the fact that it caps the framerate at 30 FPS, but it can be improved. By changing the framerate to 60, you can still get a solid 15W - 16W drain without any caps, which is still in the okay range as well. Due to it being optimized for 30 FPS right out of the gate, I will concede with a Best on Deck badge. It can be played and played well without any changes. BUT, we can improve the game significantly to feel smoother while looking similar and having the same, if not better, battery life.

Optimizing for 8? We Can Handle It!

After playing at 60, I felt there was a way that Octopath Traveler 2 can be played smoothly, but with much better battery life. So I first started pushing framerate down slowly to see the lowest I could go while still feeling as smooth as butter, which in this case is 50 FPS. From there, I modified the settings, going back and forth to see which ones had the most impact. With that in mind, I turned Shadows, Effects, and Textures to "Medium" while keeping Post-Processing and Anti-Aliasing on High. This allowed me to keep the visuals looking beautiful and full while being able to bring in a TDP limit of 7, keeping battery drain averaging around 12W.

Once I had figured that one out, I proceeded to make a quality-focused build that was 60 FPS with the highest settings. With a TDP limit of 9 and everything on high, you can enjoy the game at a consistent framerate and keep battery drain around 15W. While I personally didn't see much of a difference between the graphical quality of the max vs the recommended, it is still nice to have a build with all the bells and whistles turned up to maximum.

Now we move on to the battery builds. I actually created 2 this time, one that uses native resolution while the other uses a forced one. I did this because the forced resolution can make the game look slightly blurry and soft, which can be a bit of a drag to some. Luckily, the battery build at native resolution works well and retains the most important visual effects, like the shadows, and keep the game hovering around 10W - 11W.

While putting the game on lower settings did help battery life, it also made the game look decisively worse, so I wanted to avoid that at all costs.


These are the lowest possible settings for Octopath Traveler 2, something I made SURE to avoid with every build of the game.

With the forced down resolution version, you are getting a softer image, but in return, your battery drain averages below 10W most of the time, giving around a 4 hour battery instead of a 3.5 hour one. Yes it is only adding around half an hour of gameplay, but on some long trips where you need to conserve, this could really come in hand.

16:10 Resolution and SteamOS Menus

Octopath Traveler 2 plays at 1280x720 resolution, which has a 16:9 aspect ratio. This means there are black bars above and below the game itself. Even when forcing the resolution or changing it in-game to 1280x800, it will always stick to 720p. There is a way to fix this though and we covered it in an article we posted. It requires some hex editing, but doing this will allow you to get rid of those bars without an increase in battery drain.

1280x720 (Before Changes)
1280x800 (After Changes)
1280x800 (After Changes)
1280x720 (Before Changes)

There is also some weird drops when trying to use any SteamOS menu while in-game. For some builds, like the recommended one, it won't really happen much, but it has happened and can be quite noticeable when playing at 60 FPS. The game goes right back to normal after getting out of the menu, but I want to mention so if you see it yourself, you won't be alarmed.


Like I mentioned before, Octopath Traveler 2 is quite possibly one of my favorite JRPGs I have played in recent times. The combat is as great as ever, the stories feel much more thought out and connect with each other well, the world is breathtaking, and the new mechanics and QoL features make this version of the game feel incredible. It improves all the spots where the prequel fell flat while refining what made it so fantastic. On top of that, the game runs so well on the Steam Deck that I can't imagine playing it on anything else. Square Enix did a fantastic job with this one and it shines in every way I can possibly think of.

Recommended Settings Extra Screenshots:

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back

Trails to Azure was provided to us by NIS America for review. Thank you!

Peace has finally settled over Crossbell, but with tensions rising from organizations and threats looming ahead, you will have to gear up decide the fate of your home. Set a few months after its predecessor, Trails to Azure continues the story of Lloyd and the Special Support Section in the finale of the Crossbell arc in the Trails universe. Gather your allies and take them in a story-driven JRPG with turn-based battles and unique equipment systems to power yourselves up. The city-state's fate rests with you and your team, will you be able to save it?

If you are a fan of JRPGs, this is a game you won't want to wait up on. The Trails series is known for its big stories that intertwine between all of its games and this one doesn't disappoint. Along with the continuing story from Trails from Zero, there are also some new combat mechanics and even customize your own car. There are also wonderful accessibility features like speeding up the game and even importing a save from Trails from Zero for some extra goodies and story content. And with some excellent Japanese voice acting, the game feels absolutely superb.

While this game can be played on its own, there are flashbacks that can explain parts you miss from the previous game, there is a lot of joy to be had by playing the other games in the series. The games regularly reference older games to some degree, with this one referencing a character from the first game in the series in the beginning! (Trails to Azure is the 5th installment in the series). These references aren't necessary to enjoy Trails to Azure, but it is definitely part of the allure the series has on me. And just like the other games in the series, Azure runs flawlessly on the Steam Deck.

Trails to Azure - Best on Deck

With no changes at all, Trails to Azure runs at 60 FPS with 6W - 8W drain, for a solid 6.5 - 7 hours of battery life. The game does support 1280x800 during gameplay and battles, but in any cutscenes, it will bring in the black bars mimicking letterbox format. It really isn't a big deal, but it happens in every cutscene and initially made me think the game was 1280x720 and not 800p.

There were no controller issues that I discovered and no visual issues. Trails to Azure performed as expected, which makes sense, and I couldn't be happier.

The Trails Series - Interconnected Stories

So I did mention above that Trails to Azure references characters from the previous games, which is true, but this is also one of the staples of the series. Throughout the games, there are references to events or characters that happened in previous games, including some foreshadowing for certain characters. In my opinion, this makes the world feel much more alive and connected, rather than it just being individual stories taking place in the same world.

The games can be played without playing the others since it will explain a little, and you could always look up and read the story from the last to get the general gist of what happened, but that gets rid of some of the magic these games carry. Not to mention that almost each game can carry over previous content that affects relationships and gives bonuses in some way. I personally find it worthwhile to invest time into, and I really love how the stories can weave in together, but it does take a lot of investment. Thankfully, the other games in the series run well on the Deck too (we will dive into that later on) and enjoying the entire series on the device isn't out of reach.


For those who have played the Trails series and want to continue it on the Deck, you can have the complete confidence that this will be a near-perfect experience. For those who haven't yet tried the series, but enjoy JRPGs and story-heavy games, I urge you to take a look into this series. The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure holds up and continues the wonderful series that I have fallen in love with and makes me look forward to the next entry coming out later this year.

And of course, since there was no setting changes needed to enjoy this game optimally, it is a Best on Deck game!

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for news, tips and tutorials, game settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back!

Tired of the boring village life, Ryza dreamed of a life filled with adventure, and after one trip to the forbidden island across the shore, she would get what she wanted! Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & The Secret Hideout will put you in Ryza's shoes as she comes across a traveling alchemist and decides to take up the craft. Gather materials, synthesize items, fight monsters, and level up to become a master alchemist and discover the truth about your home.

Atelier Ryza 1 is the 21st entry into the Atelier series. The game has always had a soft-spot with me as I not only love JRPGs, but crafting mechanics as well! Compared to older entries, Ryza is more on the simple side, but still really fun and has a lot to offer. The crafting/synthesizing system is interesting, the combat is flashy, and the story is pretty good. If you are at all interested in the series, or a good JRPG that can keep you busy for awhile, I highly recommend this one!

Atelier Ryza: Pre-Optimization Performance

Before I went to work on optimizing, I wanted to see how well the game would perform and if it is in need of optimization. I learned that yes, this game definitely needs it. Playing with out of the box settings, the game would sit around 20-25 FPS with the battery capping around 15W - 16W drain. This was weird since I had no TDP limits on, but the game itself would keep the drain from going any higher.


I noticed this with max settings too. The game would hover around 15-20 FPS here, but the drain would cap around 16W without any limits set. Regardless though, all this did is prove that optimizations are definitely necessary here, and luckily, we can make this game much more playable! And, as it turns out, this problem with the in-game TDP cap is due to a GPU utilization issue...which can be fixed!


Fixing GPU Utilization Issue (Optional, but Recommended)

First off, I wanted to get a stable 30 framerate, so I started turning down shadows and turned off Dynamic Reflections. This definitely helped, but there were still some areas that would push framerate down below 30. I even went on the lowest possible settings and could only hit a stable framerate, and could even hit 40, with Shadows off, which looks terrible.

Atelier Ryza 1 No Shadows

After some research, I actually discovered that the GPU is being under-utilized with the newer Atelier games, including Ryza. Catching on, this was fixed Github user doitsujin! Using this will actually fix how the GPU is utilized and bring battery drain down while making the game much more stable.

This is optional as we tested all of these builds with and without this fix. The game has some spots where they drop, but for the most part, our builds stick to the framerates. If you want to fix this and make it much more stable and save more on battery, we HIGHLY recommend doing this (You will need Proton GE installed to do this. We recommend using version 7-49):

  1. Go into Desktop mode and Download the atfix.zip from Github
  2. Put the d3d11.dll file in the main install directory of Atelier Ryza. You can find this in Desktop mode by right clicking the game, hovering over "Manage", and then clicking "Browse Local Files".
  3. Either in Desktop mode or going back into Game mode, go into properties and put in this launch option:
WINEDLLOVERRIDES="d3d11=n,b" %command%

After that, just make sure you are forcing GE-Proton 7-49 in the compatibility tab in properties and you should be good to go! Again, we highly recommend doing this to make the game as stable and optimized as possible, but if you are okay with a couple areas that drop a couple frames and 2W - 3W more battery drain, these builds are playable.

Synthesizing Optimizations

WARNING: Atelier Ryza does have a launcher. You will need to use the touchscreen to change the settings and press play. Graphics settings can be found under the "Settings" tab and tap "Graphics Settings".

With that out of the way, let's get to the optimizing! After playing for a bit in 30 FPS, I decided I personally preferred 40. It felt so much smoother and I didn't need to sacrifice visual quality much to hit it. With shadows on low, resolution at 1080x600, SSAO off, and Dynamic Reflections off, I was able to hit a stable 40 FPS while averaging around 11W - 14W drain and a TDP limit of 8. With the GPU fix above, this averaged closer to 13W max drain.

I went back and forth deciding whether to try using 1280x720 with no upscaling or 1080x600 with FSR, and after going back and forth, I felt there was little change to how the game looked, so I took the extra savings for this build (example further down).

From there, I went to a quality focused build to try pushing native 1280x720 resolution with SSAO on and Shadows on Medium. Using 30 FPS and a TDP limit of 9, this was achievable! The game looked better in some areas and drained around the same as the 40 FPS, but didn't feel as smooth overall due to being locked at 30. The GPU fix above does help keep this stable as well, but I wasn't able to keep a stable 30 with max settings, so turning shadows down to medium made this possible!

After that, I went for savings as much battery as possible without sacrificing quality. Using the same settings as the 40 FPS build, but with 1280x720 resolution instead, I was able to comfortably limit TDP to 6 and keep 30 FPS, all with battery averaging around 10W - 12W while still looking fantastic. Turning shadows off could have helped battery even more, but it makes the game look significantly worse.

To Upscale or Not to Upscale

When playing around with Atelier Ryza, I went back and forth with upscaling to see the difference and honestly...there isn't a ton. Bringing it down does help with stability enough, especially for the 40 FPS build, but it doesn't reduce visual fidelity as much as I thought it would. Games in cel-shaded or anime style tend to benefit the most from FSR upscaling due to visual design.


The one issue I have seen from upscaling and, I would say in general, is some of the smaller text during battles...specifically the health and MP numbers for your enemies. In battle, your foes will have a red and yellow bar that depicts their HP and MP. In the middle of these bars is the actual number value associated with them. When the bar is filled with their respective colors, those numbers are VERY hard to make out. It is harder when upscaling, but native resolution doesn't help much either.

Otherwise, I didn't see many changes outside of that. You could upscale for each of the builds and lower the resolution, but I didn't feel the changes helped much for the quality or battery build. I also tried lowering below 1080x600, but quality started to dip there, so I elected not to go down that far.


Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout is a wonderful JRPG that puts a spotlight on crafting/synthesizing to become a great alchemist. With a simple alchemy and combat gameplay loop that still feels fun, this is a great entry point for anyone interested in the series or just looking for a new JRPG to play! And with the optimizations paired with the GPU Utilization fix, this is a fantastic way to play on-the-go!

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back

The digital world is in trouble and it is up to you to restore order and save it from destruction! Choose a male or female avatar and begin your adventure with two Digimon companions and discover over 200 more to collect, explore, and battle with. Form bonds by feeding, training, disciplining, and Digivolving them while building and upgrading your town. Use all of your skills to issue commands to your Digimon in AI battles and cheer them to victory!

Digimon World: Next Order originally came out on the Vita and PS4 in 2016 and 2017 respectively. While there are times it does show its age, it is overall a really fun game! I love the dynamic of taking care of your Digimon, training them to get stronger in one of the 6 different stats, and then using them to battle. I also found the AI battles and issuing commands to be more enjoyable than I expected. There is a big grind to this game, so be ready for a lot of training and battling, but if you enjoy those kinds of games and enjoy Digimon, this will be a great time, especially on the Steam Deck!

Digimon World: Next Order - Best on Deck

Without any changes, Digimon World: Next Order can be played at 60 FPS with a battery drain that hovers around 7W - 10W generally. The game looks crisp and gorgeous while running near perfectly, only having VERY minor stutters when running around the world.

The game fits perfectly with the Steam Deck controller and doesn't have any visual bugs or glitches that I encountered. I had a good experience with it, but I did notice 2 things in the settings which I found interesting.

Recommended Setting Changes

In the "Graphics" option of the settings, I saw only 3 options in front of me: Resolution, Anti-Aliasing, and Depth of Field. Resolution starts off at 1280x720, which I assumed was the max it supported, but I was actually able to change it to 1280x800 and it stretched the screen correctly! I'm not sure why it doesn't default to the native 1280x800 if it supports it, but I am happy it does.

I also notice anti-aliasing and Depth of Field are turned off. You can actually turn these on and run the game without any issues, but I would recommend keeping Depth of Field off. There are some areas where it will react weirdly and make your entire screen blurry, which can feel jarring when it happens randomly. Turning it off will not only fix this, but will also slightly reduce battery drain, making it stick under 10W.

Depth of Field On
Depth of Field Off
Depth of Field Off
Depth of Field On


Digimon World: Next Order is an enjoyable foray into the monster-collecting RPG space. If you are a fan of others, like Pokemon, and want a enjoyable switch-up to the formula with tons of grinding, this will be a wonderful game for you. As someone who loves games with lots of grinding involved, huge Disgaea fan here, Digimon World fits perfectly into my type. With no changes needed to enjoy the game fully, this is also a Best on Deck game, though if you decide to go into settings, you can expand the screen to the entire Deck and up some graphics quality without losing performance or battery!

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back

This game was provided to us by NIS America for review. Thank you!

Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society is a turn-based JRPG dungeon crawler about commanding a brigade of puppet soldiers to unearth the Curios hidden within an underground labyrinth. After being hired for a special job, you will investigate the nooks and crannies of the maze with your created heroes that you will level up, equip, and customize to power your way through gorgeously designed monsters at Galleria manor. Put together a team of up to 40 fighters and explore over 50 hours of content as you discover the secrets that lie beneath.

Labyrinth of Galleria is a game I had to really pry myself away from. If you are a fan of other NIS America titles like Disgaea or turn-based JRPGs with customizable fighters like Octopath Traveler or Etrian Odyssey, you will love this game. The combination of using witch's pacts and assigning your warriors to them felt like a nice merging of team building and strategy, while finding loot and crafting items to get the best gear. I also didn't think I would enjoy the story as much myself, but it grew on me the more I played as well. I would say the voice acting is a little bit much, especially the consistent quips from warriors when they're using Special Crest skills, but it isn't something worse than other JRPGs. Overall, this is a game I can see myself sinking 80+ hours into, and luckily, I will be able to enjoy it fully on the Steam Deck.

Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society - Best on Deck

With absolutely no tweaking at all, Labyrinth of Galleria runs perfectly at 60 FPS staying under a 9W drain with no changes in settings whatsoever. Granted, this game is half visual novel and half static 3D maps, but I have seen un-optimized games with similar quality do much worse. This game feels like it was made for the portable platform with the way it is structured and the content it has!

I didn't have any problems with controls and the visuals looked crisp and clear. It also has some nice accessibility features to go along with it including cursor size, guide display, auto saves, and battle speed (my favorite one). The game only has 1280x720 native display and not 1280x800, so you will have the black bars at the top and bottom, but this is me being nit-picky.


Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society is a game that continued my love for more in-depth JRPGs. The visuals are gorgeous and the gameplay is enjoyable with some complexity to it. It felt like a very good balance between simple and intricate, walking that fine line to keep me playing the game without mulling over every single decision and scratching my head. With a nice blend of unit building, crafting, and exploring, Labyrinth of Galleria ticked all the boxes I want to see in a game like this.

And if you're hoping for playing this on-the-go as well, performance on the Steam Deck will be a near-perfect guarantee! This is one I am happy to add to our Best on Deck catalogue! The game is releasing on the Nintendo Switch as well, but since the game uses cloud saves through Steam, you will be able to enjoy this one on PC and Deck without losing any progress. This is the premiere way to play Labyrinth of Galleria!

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade is the remake of one of the most well-known JRPG games ever made. With the original being made in 1996, this remake made a ton of changes and improvements, including a graphical overhaul, real-time combat system, and expanding the story into not just 1, but 3 parts told in 3 separate games. If you loved Final Fantasy 7 and wanted to see an intricate re-telling of the original story that expands more than you would have ever thought, this is the game for you.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade On Steam Deck

FF7R on Steam Deck seems to work really well out of the box at first, but progressing through the game shows its cracks. The biggest one would be that Dynamic Resolution is automatically turned on without an in-game way of turning it off. The in-game setting selection is abysmal, only giving the option to change resolution, texture and shadow resolution, framerate cap, and characters displayed.

I was able to disable Dynamic Resolution with a mod though, which not only made the game look better, but run significantly better too. You can find this mod and how to install it below this review. With Dynamic Resolution off, I used Steam to force the resolution to 1024x640 and upscaled with FSR to save on performance, which it did while still looking very good.

Left ImageRight Image

While there's slight worsening of the text, the gains in temperature and battery life are obvious and phenomenal. The 1024x600 with FSR has the disable dynamic resolution mod installed.

I tested this running through one of the most demanding areas in the game, both in the base game and its DLC, and got significantly less temps and battery usage overall while still looking better. During gameplay, I got average temps for CPU and GPU around 70c while battery usage tended to hover around 15W. I set the texture and shadow resolution to low since I felt they didn’t change a whole lot visually, but did keep the framerate more stable. I didn’t see a whole lot changed with characters displayed, so I kept it at 2 and the framerate cap can be set to 30 or 60.

If you plan to use our 40 FPS build, or switch between the two builds we provided, keep this set to 60 in-game. Though I would recommend sticking with a more stable 30 FPS as it is significantly better with temps and battery throughout the game overall. I did also try launching with DX11, but I didn't feel there was any major difference in performance to warrant it.

Testing, testing, testing...

Throughout my testing, regardless of how I set the game, there were stutters when running through areas. This is actually due to the engine this game runs on, Unreal Engine 4. On Steam Deck, when a UE4 game is loading in new assets/areas, it has been known to stutter pretty wildly. It calms down really quick, and doesn’t necessarily affect temps or battery much, but it is noticeable. Other than that, I didn’t really notice any bugs or glitches.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a wonderful fit for the Steam Deck. I have always felt like JRPGs are perfect on this device and this just confirms that. With the recommended build, I would say FF7R is very playable and an enjoyable experience. I would have loved 40 FPS to be a bit more stable, and it still is a little blurry even just getting the settings right, but it is playable. Needing to mod it to make it playable is a little bit of a nuisance too, but it is a huge help being able to disable that. Overall, I would recommend playing the game on Steam Deck, just note that it is a little process with some compromises.

Need some help understanding how we got to our score? Check out our Guide to Steam Deck HQ.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety game reviews and news that are sure to help your gaming experience. Whether you're looking for newstips and tutorialsgame settings and reviews, or just want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, we've got your back!