Looking back, 2023 was a nuts year for gaming in both good and bad ways. As for the good, there were a ton of games that were released that are amazing. But even still, there were games that stood above the rest when it came to Steam Deck support and performance. So, I went through the hundreds of games I played and reviewed and came up with what we feel are the best of the best this year.

SDHQ Games of the Year

Even though these are the best, there are tons of fantastic games on sale right now for the Steam Winter Sale. You can check out some of our recommendations in our Part 1 and Part 2 articles going over various different genres of games that we recommend checking out. But, without further delay, here are SteamDeckHQ's Best Games of 2023:

Best Game That Doesn't Support Controllers (Yet): Gloomwood


Gloomwood started off a bit hard to run on the Steam Deck when it was first released, which was a shame since it is such a fun game. Now, the stealth horror FPS performs significantly better and feels fantastic on the Deck. In it, you will explore an intricate city by utilizing a fantastic stealth and sound system to keep yourself safe. You will scavenge and use an arsenal to get through the world by any means necessary.

While the game runs great, it unfortunately doesn't have controller support just yet. Luckily, it is quite easy to translate the game's KB+M to the controller. The game defaults to a community-made layout by OracleAndroid called "Gloomwood on Deck," and it works extremely well. It maps different controls to all the buttons, including the four back buttons, and it feels almost as good as native support. Gloomwood did come out in 2022, but with how well it is now running, I felt it was fair to include it here.

Gloomwood is available on Steam for $14.99 during the sale.

Best Battery-Saving Feature for a Game on Deck:
Songs of Conquest - Static Framerate Slashing

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When it comes to optimizing games for the Steam Deck, I generally see a lot of reduced RAM usage and reduced graphics quality. These do work quite well with some games, and it is appreciated, but there are some developers that will go over and above to get their games running well on the Deck in the best way possible. Lavapotion went over and above with a way to make the battery last longer when playing Songs of Conquest, and it is great.

To make the battery last longer, whenever you stop moving the camera or using any menus, the game will slash the framerate from 60 to 30 or 20. Because of the aesthetic, this reduction is very hard to notice, but it saves over an hour of battery life and can keep the temperature down. I found this to be ingenious, and along with the controller support, it has become a necessary game for your Steam Deck library.

Songs of Conquest is on Steam for $14.99 for the sale. While this game was released on Steam last year, the Steam Deck testing and patch were released this year.

Best Game That Won't Drain Your Battery Fast: Mr. Sun's Hatbox


Mr. Sun's Hatbox is a game I really wish got more attention. This roguelike platformer will see you taking on missions that you must complete. You will choose your hat, with each having different properties, take a weapon, and go off to take down your enemies. During the missions, you can steal enemy hats, weapons, and actual enemies to add to your crew and inventory. All of this while you upgrade your headquarters, and you can play together with friends in co-op.

The game reminds me of Metal Gear Solid V, where you will steal resources and materials, but add a roguelike element to it that keeps each mission feeling fresh and enjoyable. It also runs at around 7W - 8W battery drain for over 5 hours of battery life. I loved this game when it was released in April, and I can't recommend it enough.

Mr. Sun's Hatbox is available on Steam for $10.49 during the sale, and you can check out our review on the Deck for details on performance.

Best Game to Play in Short Bursts: Halls of Torment

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Roguelike games have turned out to be some of the best to play in short bursts due to how easy it is to start a run and finish it without needing to invest hours. Halls of Torment is one of the few that really shocked me, though. The game has a great progression system and a wonderful aesthetic that reminds me of the older Diablo games. And, with each run being more casual and taking a maximum of 30 minutes, it is easy to take it on, finish, and then come back later. It also runs nearly flawlessly on the Steam Deck!

Halls of Torment is available on Steam for $3.99 during the sale.

Best Power-Hungry Game on Deck: Baldur's Gate 3


There is a reason Baldur's Gate 3 won the Game of the Year at TGA and is so highly regarded. The open-ended top-down RPG feels endless with the options you have to complete your missions. Want to try setting a trap to lure enemies into the middle of an arena to blow them all up? Go for it. Smear poo on your face to gain entry into a Goblin Camp? Of course you can. The game has so many options and ways to complete missions and go around the phenomenal world, it truly feels like you have so much freedom.

The game is a bit harder to run on the Steam Deck, with a decently high battery drain regardless of settings, but it is so good that it's worth the sacrifices to make it playable. Act 3 is the toughest part to run, and you may experience some drops, but nothing beats the feeling of playing this in the palm of your hands.

Baldur's Gate 3 is available on Steam for $53.99 for the sale.

Best Time-Consuming Game: Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless


When it comes to most RPGs and JRPGs, you can expect to invest hours and hours into the game. Playing games like this on the Steam Deck feels extremely rewarding since you can take it with you wherever you go. For me, Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless felt like the perfect fit for the device. This tactical JRPG will have you creating characters, playing missions, and leveling up to become as powerful as possible. Each character has a ton of progression options, including their own level, powering up abilities, reincarnation to increase base stats, and even leveling up items. There are hundreds of hours worth of content here, and playing on the Deck is easily the best way to do that.

Disgaea 7 is on Steam for $47.99 during the sale, and you can check out our review on the Steam Deck for details on its performance.

Most Surprising Game that Runs Well: Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon


A lot of games were released this year, and I was shocked that they could run on the Steam Deck, but none of them impressed me, like Armored Core 6. The action-packed mech game is similar to a fast-paced souls-like in many ways. It adds versatility with the ability to fly in every direction at will and customize your Mech with four different weapons and armor.

On the Steam Deck, it runs exceptionally well while still looking incredible. With some missions able to hit 60 FPS, aiming for a solid 30 or 40 will be playable throughout. It still stuns me how well the game runs despite how much can happen on the screen, and I enjoyed it more than a lot of other difficult games like this.

Armored Core 6 is available on Steam for $59.99. It isn't part of the Winter sale, but I highly recommend checking it out. You can check out our review for details on its performance on the Steam Deck.

Best Series on Deck: Yakuza/Like a Dragon

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There aren't many series that consistently feel great to play on the Steam Deck, but RGG Studios has done it with the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series. These incredible JRPGs are filled with drama, action, and comedy as you play through long but satisfying experiences, discover memorable stories, and partake in high-octane, real-time combat. Every game in the series, including the newest entry (Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name), runs extremely well on the Deck, and it's insane how these great games feel to play.

While most of the Yakuza/Like a Dragon series was released prior to this year, The Man Who Erased His Name was released in 2023. You can check out our review on how the game runs on the Steam Deck.

The entire series is on sale right now:

Best Indie Game: DREDGE


There were so many amazing indie games that hit the scene this year, and if I could, I would recommend them all, but none affected me as DREDGE did. The eerie scenery and addicting gameplay loop are highlighted even further on the Steam Deck due to how well it runs. It's very hard for me to get sucked into a single-player experience that relies solely on a single general mechanic, like fishing, but DREDGE did it and they did it well.

Black Salt Games deserves a heap of praise for this, and they have it from me!

DREDGE is available on Steam for $18.74 during the sale, and you can check out our review of how it runs on the Deck.

Best Remake: System Shock


Now, this was a very close one. There were two games that came to my mind when thinking about the best remake that was released this year, and in the end, System Shock won out. Resident Evil 4 was a very close runner-up and deserves some recognition, but System Shock crushed it with Steam Deck optimization. The game runs extremely well, looks amazing, and is so much fun to play. The atmosphere of being on a derelict ship trying to survive against a rogue AI, all masked within an addicting immersive sim gameplay loop, works so well.

Nightdive Studios blew this one out of the park, and while I am a fan of them in general, this helped solidify their dominance in the remake market.

System Shock is available on Steam for $25.99 during the sale, and you can check out our review of how it runs on the Deck.

Author's Choice: dotAGE


I have played hundreds and hundreds of games this year for reviews and for fun, and if I could, I would talk about so many games I ended up loving. But there is always one game that comes to my mind when I think of my favorite game this year, and that is dotAGE. I have fond memories of traveling to Indonesia and almost missing my flight because I was sitting on a bench, playing dotAGE on my Steam Deck. The game felt great, and even without controller support, it was a ton of fun to play.

Now, the turn-based roguelike city builder has controller support and feels even better with a gamepad. It is hard to not love the game, and I found myself losing hours of my life playing. Even as recently as a couple of days ago, the developer is actively optimizing the game for the Steam Deck and most recently has optimized the shader to increase performance for larger villages when zooming out. If you enjoy slower-paced games that have elements of roguelike gameplay and city-building/resource management, this is a necessary game for you.

dotAGE is $14.95 on Steam for the sale and has a native Linux build.

Best Overall Steam Deck Game of 2023: Lies of P


As I mentioned above, I have played hundreds of games this year and tried so many games I would never have tried before. Choosing a game I felt deserved the best on the Steam Deck in 2023 was extremely hard since so many great games were released this year. Overall, after all is said and done, I feel this honor belongs to Lies of P. The souls-like genre feels fantastic on the Deck, but this one not only looks fantastic and has a lot of Bloodborne inspiration, but it runs extremely well on the device without much reduction in visual quality.

I am terrible at Souls games in general, and I always need extra time to review them due to how bad I am at them, but Lies of P was much more accessible to me. The aesthetic and gameplay loop felt fresh and enjoyable, regardless of how hard it was. Even though it is more linear than the well-known Elden Ring, the world-building, variety of enemies and weapon combinations, and story is phenomenal and I ended up enjoying the game more than almost every souls-like I have played.

Lies of P is $47.99 on Steam for the sale, and you can check out our review on its performance on Steam Deck.

And those are our Best Steam Deck Games of 2023! Each of them deserves to be checked out and added to your Deck libraries. However, if you want to check out some awesome games to get during the Winter Sale, feel free to check out our Part 1 and Part 2 recommendations! Congratulations to each of the games listed above and to the amazing developers who created them.

If you enjoyed this article, check out the rest of the content on SteamDeckHQ! We have a wide variety of game reviews and news that will 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!

Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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