The genre awards feature as a part of our end of year coverage is one of my favorites because it lets me have even more fun by coming up with some specific genres or categories that you wouldn’t see normally. This also lets me highlight additional games, and basically get your eyes on some releases you may have forgotten or not played yet from 2023. In this feature, I’ll be covering specific games on Steam Deck across genres and categories I’ve been paying attention to, and some new ones for the year. This list is in no particular order, and while some games are runner-up winners, I recommend checking out every game here.
The best Steam Deck games of 2023 across different genres and categories
Best action game on Steam Deck in 2023
Runner-Up: Armored Core VI
Hi-Fi Rush is a superlative blend of rhythm and action games with its brilliant aesthetic, excellent use of licensed and original music, and lovely characters like Korsica and more. I’ve played this too many times already, and it shines on Steam Deck. This one was close, but Armored Core VI just missed out on being the winner here. I adore both these games though.
Best action-adventure game on Steam Deck in 2023
Like a Dragon Gaiden
Runner-Up: Resident Evil 4 Remake
Despite being a budget-priced release bridging the gap between a few games in the series, Like a Dragon Gaiden is a brilliant experience for fans of Kazuma Kiryu, and it also shines with its plethora of side activities. Just like the category above, I wasn’t sure which would be the winner, but Like a Dragon Gaiden edges it out just by a hair. Resident Evil 4 Remake is Capcom’s best remake yet, and the best version of Resident Evil 4 by far.
Best adventure game on Steam Deck in 2023
A Space for the Unbound
Runner-Up: Coffee Talk 2
I ended up liking A Space for the Unbound, and its storytelling quite a bit when I played it on Switch and Steam Deck. While a few of the gameplay portions in the middle dragged a bit too much, A Space for the Unbound is one of the best narrative driven indie games I’ve played. Despite not having been to Indonesia which inspires the setting, the storytelling, characters, and atmosphere all felt perfect. Coffee Talk 2 also delivered a fantastic narrative, but I feel like it didn’t do enough to feel new compared to A Space for the Unbound.
Best puzzle game on Steam Deck in 2023
The Talos Principle 2
The Talos Principle 2 and Cocoon are both superb puzzle games, but the former just edged a victory for managing to surpass its predecessor in every way while costing less. I still feel like there’s a catch, but The Talos Principle 2 is just that damn good, and it will be a puzzle game people talk about for years to come. Cocoon nailed its concepts and is a strong contender for the best of the best, but I ended up liking Talos more.
Best action RPG on Steam Deck in 2023
Runner-Up: Remnant II
I promise I didn’t include both of these here just because of the names. Fate/Samurai Remnant not only is the best game based on Fate, but it is one of Omega Force’s best action RPGs yet. Even if you’re new to Fate, this one is worth grabbing, and it was a joy to play it on Steam Deck, the best portable version. I loved Remnant II, but it falls short a bit on Steam Deck and even on consoles. It is a bit too demanding on all formats. Barring that, I loved my time with it, and can’t wait to try the DLC when I’m able to.
Best DRPG on Steam Deck in 2023
Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society
Runner-Up: Etrian Odyssey Origins Collection
Some might think it is blasphemy to give the award to anything but Etrian Odyssey, but here we are. I’m sure I’ve played and own more versions of Etrian Odyssey than most people, but Labyrinth of Galleria was just too good on all fronts. If this was a new Etrian Odyssey release, things might have been harder, but for now, I recommend grabbing both, but definitely prioritizing Labyrinth of Galleria if you want a quality dungeon crawler.
Best CRPG on Steam Deck in 2023
Baldur’s Gate 3
Runner-Up: Warhammer 40k: Rogue Trader
Baldur’s Gate 3 was obviously going to win here, but I feel like this category was a bit unfair to Rogue Trader. I love Owlcat’s games, but Rogue Trader just isn’t as polished as Baldur’s Gate 3 right now. I find Baldur’s Gate 3 more approachable as well. The bottom line is both of these are fantastic CRPGs barring a few issues, but Baldur’s Gate 3 just feels like a once in a generation experience right now. I hope Rogue Trader can improve a bit more, and I’ll go into detail about why it is worth your time in the near future in my review.
Best JRPG on Steam Deck in 2023
Octopath Traveler II
Runner-Up: The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie
Both of these games are essentials for JRPG fans, but Octopath Traveler II edges out the victory for improving on its predecessor in every way while being Square Enix’s best JRPG since the PS2 era. Trails into Reverie is the same tier for Trails fans, but not as much for newcomers. Trails into Reverie does shine with its superb PC conversion that makes it the best platform to play the game on.
Best SRPG on Steam Deck in 2023
Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless
Runner-Up: Persona 5 Tactica
Disgaea 7 took the base laid by Disgaea 6 and finally delivered a game worthy of the Disgaea franchise. It is over the top, insane, and addictive. Persona 5 Tactica feels like a long lost 3DS game rebuilt for modern platforms, and a fantastic first SRPG Persona game.
Best strategy game on Steam Deck in 2023
Age of Wonders 4
I didn’t play Railgrade when it was on Epic, but got around to it on Steam Deck after it got Steam Deck Verified and the wait was worth it. I love train games and Railgrade is superb. Age of Wonders 4 from Triumph and Paradox wins by just a margin thanks to its more polished gameplay. I know both aren’t exactly comparable, but Age of Wonders 4 even without its DLC made a strong showing this year.
Best simulation game on Steam Deck in 2023
Dave the Diver
Runner-Up: Luck be a Landlord
Dave the Diver is a dangerous game that I almost deleted because I kept playing it on Switch and Steam Deck. I ended up adoring it, the restaurant management, diving, and the hilarious cut-scenes. Luck be a Landlord is an addictive slot machine simulator that is worth playing despite that description. Dave the Diver is best on Steam Deck, and while Luck be a Landlord plays well there, I would grab it on mobile if you have the option.
Best farming game on Steam Deck in 2023
Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life
Runner-Up: Fae Farm
Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life is a remake of the original game for all modern platforms including Steam Deck. I don’t know why Valve has marked it as unsupported because it ran fine for me whenever I played it. Fae Farm feels like a lovely game inspired by Story of Seasons with its own charm. A Wonderful Life may not have all the features, but it is a more polished and charming experience. Fae Farm with all DLC will likely be close, but right now it is a bit short of Story of Seasons.
Best cross genre game on Steam Deck in 2023
Another category where I kept flip flopping on which to have as runner-up. I finally decided on Mosa Lina (puzzles, platforming, adventures, and more) for doing more with its genre blending, and delivering an unforgettable experience. I’m glad someone I follow posted about this because it is worth going into blind and is super worth its low asking price. Affogato similarly blends genres I love like JRPGs, barista simulation, and more together to be one of the better indies of 2023.
Best racing game on Steam Deck in 2023
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged
Runner-Up: Disney Speedstorm
Hot Wheels Unleashed was a lot of fun, and I didn’t think we’d get a sequel this soon. If you played the original a lot, this might not hit as hard, but I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. Disney Speedstorm from Gameloft might be one of the better kart racers with a combat focus. While it isn’t as nice as Dreamlight Valley, Gameloft did a good job here. While we don’t usually do “most disappointing” awards for any category, nothing in gaming has disappointed me more in 2023 than Forza Motorsport.
Best sports game on Steam Deck in 2023
Runner-Up: AEW Fight Forever
Blending pool and golf together ended up working out really well in Subpar Pool. While I played it most on iPhone and iPad, Subpar Pool on Steam is worth playing for those who don’t want to play on mobile, and it plays great on Steam Deck. AEW Fight Forever feels like a long lost wrestling game from many years ago resurrected for modern platforms and I mean that in the best possible way.
Best digital board game on Steam Deck in 2023
Wingspan: Oceania Expansion
Wingspan’s Oceania Expansion finally hit the digital version from Monster Couch, and I love it. I’ve slowly been playing it and seeing how the game balance has been changed, but I think this is an essential expansion to an already amazing adaptation. I still need to write my full review, but have loved the Oceania Expansion additions and changes on iOS and Steam Deck so far.
Best deckbuilder game on Steam Deck in 2023
Phantom Rose 2 Sapphire
Runner-Up: Marvel Snap
Marvel Snap finally got a proper interface for PC and Steam Deck this year after feeling like it was just a mobile game being played before. It is our runner-up while Phantom Rose 2 Sapphire, a surprise for me, is the winner. I didn’t even know about this series until I got sent a code for this release, and I love the aesthetic and gameplay. This is definitely worth trying if you’re looking for something new in the genre, and it even had a huge update release recently.
Best horror game on Steam Deck in 2023
Runner-Up: Little Goody Two Shoes
Both the winner and runner-up in this category are from Square Enix. Paranormasight is one of the publisher’s most interesting and unique releases in years in its narrative, while Little Goody Two Shoes is a fantastic indie horror adventure game that I adored playing. Both of these are on multiple platforms as well so grab them anywhere, but please play them.
Best Vampire Survivors-like on Steam Deck in 2023
Halls of Torment
Runner-Up: Death Must Die
Vampire Survivors continues to improve and bring in more quality content while being in my daily rotation, but the many games that have been released following it are now getting better as well. Halls of Torment is like Vampire Survivors meets Diablo, and it plays brilliantly on Steam Deck. Death Must Die, our runner-up, is in early access right now, and it is already shaping up to be a special hack and slash roguelite that brings in elements from Hades as well.
Best party game on Steam Deck in 2023
Runner-Up: Party Animals
KarmaZoo from Devolver is a hilarious co-op platformer where you can solve puzzles, play as dozens of unique characters, and more as you try and help others. It is our winner for the best party game to play on Steam Deck in 2023. Party Animals is a flawed but hilarious game to play with friends that is held back by some awful maps and control issues. It is still worth checking out, but likely will be better in a few updates.
Best citybuilder game on Steam Deck in 2023
Against the Storm
Runner-Up: Terra Nil
I discovered Against the Storm when I saw a lot of people on my Steam friends list buying it. I had no idea it existed, but it exploded in popularity when it launched on Steam a few weeks ago. I didn’t buy it then because it didn’t play well on Steam Deck, but a recent update added controller support and saw it getting Steam Deck Verified. I’ve been addicted to the dark fantasy citybuilder since then. Our runner-up is Terra Nil, a reverse citybuilder meets puzzle game about transforming a barren world into a gorgeous living and breathing ecosystem.
Best fighting game on Steam Deck in 2023
Street Fighter 6
Runner-Up: Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising
Street Fighter 6 is Capcom’s best fighting game since Third Strike, and one of the best overall packages we’ve ever seen in the genre with its robust singleplayer modes, flawless online, and gorgeous aesthetic. Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising fixes every issue the original game had, and it is only our runner-up and not winner by a hair at this point. Both of these are stupidly good fighters, but Street Fighter 6 is our winner.
Best metroidvania game on Steam Deck in 2023
Runner-Up: YOHANE THE PARHELION -BLAZE in the DEEPBLUE-
TEVI from the Rabi Ribi developer is just too good in its current state. Just like Rabi Ribi, the developer went above and beyond with this release to deliver one of the best metroidvanias in many years. Inti Creates YOHANE THE PARHELION -BLAZE in the DEEPBLUE- is our runner-up because while it is very well-made, it lacks the oomph I need from Inti Creates releases. It might hit the same highs after an update or two.
Best platformer game on Steam Deck in 2023
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk
Runner-Up: Sonic Origins Plus and Superstars
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is stylish, fun to play, and perfect on Steam Deck. Team Reptile delivered a superb and polished experience from start to finish with brilliant music here. Get it. Our runner-up is a combination of Sonic Origins Plus and Sonic Superstars. The former because it was actually fixed this year in a free update, and the latter because a new 2D Sonic is excellent, but it has a few annoying issues holding it back. I’m confident in Superstars improving with updates if it gets the support Sonic Frontiers got.
Best visual novel on Steam Deck in 2023
Slay the Princess
My favorite visual novels of 2023 are Slay the Princess and Anonymous;Code. The latter doesn’t work properly on Steam Deck despite what Valve says unless you do this. The former is a game you should go into with as little prior knowledge as possible. Just know that the hype is worth it and I won’t say more. Slay the princess. The runner-up is Videoverse, a game that will hit hard for a few folks but not others. The ones that do resonate with it, like myself, will think about it for a long time. This one is essential if you grew up with the early days of the internet.
Best multiplayer game on Steam Deck in 2023
Runner-Up: Lords of the Fallen
Exoprimal has a lot of potential, but Capcom hasn’t managed fixing the opening hours of the experience or adding cross platform parties. Barring those two, I love the time I put into it with friends and randoms on Steam Deck and PS5 where I’ve made the most progress through the game’s story and other modes. Lords of the Fallen needs a bit more work in its optimization, but the multiplayer has been a joy on Steam Deck. Grab it if you want a new big budget soulslike.
Best former EGS exclusive on Steam Deck in 2023
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
Runner-Up: Darkest Dungeon 2
This is one of the more fun categories here. But this is my feature and I’m a do things my way (or the highway). Speaking of my way, Stranger of Paradise hit Steam this year following its launch on consoles and Epic Games Store last year. It is a fantastic blend of Final Fantasy and Team Ninja action game goodness with a lot of heart. Darkest Dungeon 2 almost missed this list, but the recent update with full Steam Deck support made it well worth recommending.
Best console port on Steam Deck in 2023
Dragon Quest Treasures
Runner-Up: We Love Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie
Dragon Quest Treasures on Steam Deck is a massive upgrade over its Switch release from last year with performance and visual upgrades across the board. Including We Love Katamari Reroll here is kind of cheating, but it deserves a slot as a remake of the best Katamari game that shines on Steam Deck.
Best remake on Steam Deck in 2023
Live A Live
Runner-Up: Dead Space
Live A Live’s remake in the Octopath Traveler HD 2D aesthetic hit Switch last year, but it was released on Steam and PS5 this year with big visual and performance upgrades. It is a stunning remake and an essential JRPG. Dead Space’s remake not only delivered a stellar remake, but it runs and looks shockingly good on Steam Deck.
Best game not on Steam that I wish was on Steam Deck in 2023
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line
Runner-Up: Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince
I played and loved both of these on Switch and also played Theatrhythm Final Bar Line on PS4 again. I have a feeling both of them will hit Steam at some point, but for now they are the best games from this year that I wish were on Steam Deck.
Best game I wish ran better on Steam Deck in 2023
Wild Hearts from Koei Tecmo is the first proper hunting game that could’ve been competition for Monster Hunter. It sadly was let down by bad marketing and an awful PC port. Everything else was great. I hope Koei Tecmo gives it another shot in the future because I like it more than most Monster Hunter base games. It runs beyond abysmally on Steam Deck. Starfield is the first modern Bethesda Game Studios release that wasn’t a buggy mess or just boring to play like Fallout 4. I hope Starfield can improve its super bad load times and performance on Steam Deck because I think it has a lot of potential.
Best ongoing game on Steam Deck in 2023
Final Fantasy XIV
Runner-Up: Vampire Survivors
I’m putting Final Fantasy XIV here because I spent a ton of time playing Heavensward and its updates this year after finally reaching the expansion before. It got a few notable patches this year, but I didn’t get to experience that story content yet. I did enjoy playing it a ton on Steam Deck though. Vampire Survivors has gotten its amazing Adventures update this year, and is our runner-up as best ongoing game.
Best game DLC or expansion on Steam Deck in 2023
Resident Evil 4 Separate Ways
Runner-Up: Dusk HD
Resident Evil 4 Remake is amazing, and Resident Evil 4 Remake DLC where you play as Ada Wong is exactly what I wanted. Separate Ways over delivered in its quality and value for its asking price, and it is essential and our best DLC of 2023. The runner-up is Dusk HD, a free HD remaster of New Blood’s masterpiece.
Best boomer shooter on Steam Deck in 2023
Runner-Up: Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengance of the Slayer
Turbo Overkill got its full release this year, and it has sublime movement, chainsaw action, amazing music, and is just a fantastic game overall. It is our best boomer shooter with the runner-up being Slayers X. Slayers X is the most 90s thing ever. More than MTV. That’s all you need to know.
Best shoot ’em up on Steam Deck in 2023
Graze Counter GM
Runner-Up: Ray’z Arcade Chronology
A friend of mine recommended I check out Graze Counter GM, and I’m glad he did. I ended up loving the bullet hell shoot ’em up that forces you to take risks in its gameplay. It has a lovely aesthetic, and I’ve gone back to it often. The runner up is Ray’z Arcade Chronology that came to Steam this year following its PS4 and Switch release. M2 never misses and this was a lovely package to discover Taito’s Ray series.
Best monster collecting game on Steam Deck in 2023
Runner-Up: Dragon Quest Treasures
Both Cassette Beasts and Dragon Quest Treasures on Steam Deck were amazing games. The former in particular does everything better than the genre leader, and it even had a pretty good DLC release. Dragon Quest Treasures, while not as focused on the monster collecting aspect as DQ Monsters, is still a fantastic experience on Steam Deck. If you’ve been a Pokemon fan looking for a more polished and modern experience, grab Cassette Beasts as soon as you can.
Best cooking game on Steam Deck in 2023
Venba and Thirsty Suitors
Runner-Up: Cook Serve Forever
I ended up loving both Venba and Thirsty Suitors for different reasons, but they excelled in making me think of the food I love. Venba even got me to improve my own idli making technique, and Thirsty Suitors was a fresh blend of a few genres with a lovely addition of cooking. I know this is cheating but it got you to read about two amazing games that showcase brilliant food so why not? The runner-up is Cook Serve Forever that is still in early access, but has the potential to be amazing. Right now, it just falls short a bit.
Best retro game collection on Steam Deck in 2023
Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection
Runner-Up: The Making of Karateka
Capcom’s newest Mega Man collection is also one of its best ones, delivering a ton of quality content and introducing this side of Mega Man to me for the first time. Digital Eclipse’s first Gold Master Series release in The Making of Karateka is only held back by it being based on Karateka which is more of a curiosity than a game I enjoy replaying. It is our runner-up because Digital Eclipse did so much here, and I’m blindly going to buy every single Gold Master Series release from the team. It is that good.
Best game from 2022 we are still playing on Steam Deck in 2023
The King of Fighters XV
Runner-Up: PowerWash Simulator
This is a fun category because I’m still playing games from a few years ago. The King of Fighters XV got its final announced DLC and cross play this year making it even better. I enjoy playing it on all platforms, and while the new DLC characters are great, it is awesome to see the online so active whenever I try getting a match. I hope it gets more DLC. PowerWash would’ve been the winner here if the recent DLC didn’t disappoint compared to prior paid content. I have put in a ton of time into it though regardless this year.
Best fighting game character DLC on Steam Deck in 2023
Guilty Gear Strive – Elphelt Valentine
Runner-Up: Guilty Gear Strive – Johnny
Having played and enjoyed so many fighting games this year, there is no way I wasn’t going to do a separate category/genre for just fighting game DLC. This one was close between Elphelt and Johnny, but Elphelt has been more fun to play so she wins it. Johnny is the runner-up. Just Lean.
Best remaster on Steam Deck in 2023
Pocky and Rocky Reshrined
Runner-Up: Rise of the Triad Ludicrous Edition
Pocky and Rocky Reshrined hit PC and Xbox this year following its debut on PS4 and Switch. I loved it on Switch, and it has aged like the best wine in its Steam and Xbox releases. Tengo Project did a superb job with this remixed remake remaster hybrid of a classic, and it is gorgeous. Rise of the Triad Ludicrous Edition brings a 90s classic to all current platforms with a stellar release that serves as a history lesson and a fantastic shooter.
Hopefully you enjoyed this slightly different take on our genre awards with many new fun genres and categories. I know Shaun’s Switch list will be a bit different, but I hope with so many genres and games listed, you find something you like here. Forgive me if a game wasn’t in the genre you’d place it in. What did you enjoy playing on Steam Deck this year, and have you found yourself trying out more games ever since you got a Steam Deck or a Steam Deck OLED? Thanks for reading!