This year was quite a big one for Steam Deck with massive software upgrades, the release of the Steam Deck OLED, and tons of games getting Steam Deck Verified, or just releasing and playing brilliantly from the get go. With so many big games releasing, there are also many that go under the radar. Let this list serve as a reminder if you already own any of these games to play them, and hopefully introduce everyone else to something new. I love these games and hope more folks give them a shot. As usual, this list is in no particular order.
The best hidden gems on Steam Deck in 2023 – essential PC games you might have missed
Endless Monday: Dreams and Deadlines
Endless Monday: Dreams and Deadlines is a visual novel about procrastinating, projects, burgers, great characters, excellent art, and catchy music. While there is a benefit to knowing some of the characters through the hcnone’s (the developer and artist) work, it is still worth experiencing on its own if you like the art in the screenshots on Steam. If you’ve been looking for a new visual novel to chill with, this is it.
I enjoyed playing Air Twister on Apple Arcade, but I liked it even more on Steam Deck thanks to the ability to play it docked at 144hz with flawless performance. Don’t come into Air Twister expecting a massively innovative rail shooter though. it feels like a love letter to the best in the genre with its wild presentation, crazy soundtrack, and more. I hope we see more like this from Ys Net in the future.
RoboCop: Rogue City
RoboCop: Rogue City ended up being one of the biggest surprises of the year. Not only is it a great RoboCop game, but a damn fine and fun experience throughout. This one is an easy recommendation if you want a competent RoboCop game, and enjoyed the original movies. While Teyon delivered a good experience with its Terminator game, RoboCop: Rogue City is on a whole other level and a game I want to replay soon. It also was super fun to play on Steam Deck despite the visual cutbacks compared to PS5.
Furyu’s games usually do a few things well, but fail at others resulting in a middling package. With the Caligula games, I enjoyed them, but don’t really recommend them without big gameplay caveats. With Crymachina from Furyu and NIS America, I ended up liking the heartwarming narrative a lot, the visuals, the music, and the gameplay. I think this is Furyu’s best overall game yet, and is worth your time on Steam Deck for the best portable version of this action RPG.
While Videoverse might not hit as hard for you if you weren’t around back then, it absolutely delivered in making me think fondly of the past, and delivered a heartfelt story with the closest time capsule experience to the early 2000s internet there has ever been. I can’t wait to see what developer Kinmoku does next because this release has been special throughout. If the premise sounds interesting, just grab it. You won’t regret it.
Touhou Artificial Dream in Arcadia
Touhou Artificial Dream in Arcadia is an excellent dungeon crawler that will hit even harder if you’re familiar with Touhou or older Shin Megami Tensei games. If you aren’t familiar with either of those, it is still a superb old school experience that has been awesome to play on Steam Deck. Try out the demo on Steam if you aren’t sure it is for you.
I wasn’t sure whether to put Sanabi in the hidden gems list or the best games list, but considering I haven’t seen much coverage for it since launch, I decided to put it here. I didn’t get much time to play it around launch as I was waiting for the Switch version, but having finally played it on Steam Deck made me regret not jumping into the stylish platformer sooner. Come for the stylish action and stay for the emotional storytelling.
Moonring is a fantasy turn-based retro RPG roguelike hybrid that I keep thinking about. I genuinely don’t know why it is free because it feels too good to even be priced low, let alone cost nothing. It has tons of enemies, bosses, dungeons, and great music. I’ve been wanting to write about it ever since a friend of mine recommended it, and I hope to be able to do more in 2024 with it. For now, download this immediately and play it. It is worth your time.
Lunacid finally left early access recently, and has been a great window into FromSoftware’s older games as a throwback to King’s Field by the developer. While this dungeon crawler is amazing in its own right and worth the asking price, it has not only made me a fan of developer Kira, but convinced me to eventually try more of FromSoftware’s older games.
System Erasure released the awesome shoot ’em up Zero Ranger a while back, and it is excellent. When the developer announced and released Void Stranger, a friend of mine just told me to blindly buy it and play it without looking at much. It was good advice, and I think Void Stranger is one of the best games of the year. It is a lovely blend of puzzles, adventure games, and frustration. There’s nothing else like it.
Those are our picks for the best hidden games for the Steam Deck in 2023, but I’m curious what you played that you think more should know about. Have you got a game you want us or anyone else to play on Steam Deck that hasn’t been mentioned? Please let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!