Taking inspiration from Shaun’s Genre Awards for SwitchArcade each year, I wanted to highlight specific games on Steam Deck across genres I’ve been paying attention to. This list has my favorites from 2022 across many genres. This genre list is in no particular order.
Best RPG on Steam Deck
No better way to start the awards than with the category I struggled the most with eh? I adore both Elden Ring and Final Fantasy VII Remake, but Elden Ring wins the best RPG award thanks to how it was the best PC version of the game for a long time. It took many months for the performance issues to properly be addressed, and Elden Ring was a great experience on Steam Deck almost from day one thanks to the work Valve put into it. If you haven’t played Elden Ring yet, it is discounted for the first time, and an easy recommendation for Steam Deck owners willing to take on a challenging but massively rewarding game.
Runner-Up: Final Fantasy VII Remake
Best Action Game on Steam Deck
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak
Both Monster Hunter Rise and the huge Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak expansion were released on PC this year. I played through the entirety of Sunbreak on Steam Deck with almost no issues. It is the best way to experience Capcom’s newest Monster Hunter game, and a damn fine experience in general. Neon White, our runner-up, has a few performance issues on Switch, but is flawless on Steam Deck out of the box. I’ve replayed it on Deck after reviewing it on Switch, and enjoyed every bit of the gameplay.
Runner-Up: Neon White
Best Adventure Game on Steam Deck
Despite owning this on Xbox from day one, I didn’t make much progress in Pentiment because I can’t enjoy adventure games and visual novels on the big screen. I prefer playing them on a portable, and didn’t want to deal with streaming. Pentiment, our winner for the best adventure game on Steam Deck, running natively is a joy, and the best way to experience Microsoft’s best game since Forza Horizon 4 a few years ago. AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative is a massive step up from the already brilliant original with superlative writing, great voice acting, and amazing characters like Tama. AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative is our runner-up for best adventure game on Steam Deck.
Runner-Up: AI The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative
Best Open World Game on Steam Deck
Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales
Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales is one of the best open world games in a long time, and it plays like a dream on Steam Deck. It excels above Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered, and delivers a tighter experience with better combat. It is our winner for the best open world game on Steam Deck. While not traditional open world and more open zone, Sonic Frontiers has open world game elements and is a lot of fun to play. It is our runner-up for the best open world game on Steam Deck.
Runner-Up: Sonic Frontiers
Best Puzzle Game on Steam Deck
The Case of the Golden Idol
The Case of the Golden Idol, our winner for best puzzle game on Steam Deck, is a surprisingly challenging and inventive mystery puzzle game. It gives you a lot of freedom with how you can approach things, and reminds me of why I enjoyed Lucas Pope’s Return of the Obra Dinn. It is the rare experience with no padding. Immortality is our runner-up, for best puzzle game on Steam Deck. It delivers the full experience with no visual compromises on the go.
Best Horror Game on Steam Deck
Signalis is an indie horror game that is in my top 10 games of the year on both Switch and Steam Deck. Signalis, our winner for best horror game on Steam Deck, is a shockingly good horror experience that I recommend to any fan of the genre. It has a superlative atmosphere, stunning art, and an excellent soundtrack. NIS America’s Yomawari: Lost in the Dark, a lovely third entry in the horror series, is our runner-up for best horror game on Steam Deck.
Runner-Up: Yomawari: Lost in the Dark
Best FPS/Shooter on Steam Deck
Roll7 already impressed me with OlliOlli World on Steam Deck and Switch, but given the developer’s prior games, it wasn’t as big of a surprise. Rollerdrome, on the other hand, was a big surprise. The third person shooter and skater hybrid has an addictive gameplay loop, precise controls, great music, and a lovely stylish aesthetic making it our best FPS/Shooter on Steam Deck. Prodeus, our runner-up, is a brilliant boomer shooter with tons of levels through the community creations, and a banging soundtrack.
Best SRPG/TRPG on Steam Deck
Square Enix’s Triangle Strategy debuted on Nintendo Switch earlier in the year, and it shines on Steam Deck with improved visuals and performance. If you’ve ever wanted a modern tactics game that feels like a gem from the good old days with a modern coat of paint, Triangle Strategy is for you. I adore the story, music, and atmosphere in it, and it is our winner for the best SRPG/TRPG on Steam Deck. Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga, our runner-up, is a 2D turn-based SRPG has a focus on squads with a lengthy campaign that is an easy recommendation to those looking to dig deep into a wonderful tactical RPG with loads of classes.
Runner-Up: Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga
Best Rhythm/Music Game on Steam Deck
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix+
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix+ was one of the more surprising releases on Steam this year. The games have traditionally been only in arcades and consoles, so seeing a global worldwide simultaneous PC release was surprising. The rhythm game featuring vocaloids and a ton of great music debuted on Steam this year, and it is our winner for the best rhythm/music game on Steam Deck. It is also the best version of the modern Miku games on any platform. Melatonin, a Rhythm Heaven-like, is our runner-up with its gorgeous visuals and addictive gameplay.
Best Racing Game on Steam Deck
Need for Speed Unbound
I’m glad to finally have experienced a modern NFS game that has been a joy to play right from the start. Even as the first current-generation only entry in the series, Need for Speed Unbound is a joy to play on Steam Deck and our winner for the best racing game on Steam Deck for 2022. F1 2022 is not a game I expected to enjoy this much, but it impressed me quite a bit on Deck. It is our runner-up winner for best racing game.
Runner-Up: F1 2022
Best Sports Game on Steam Deck
Windjammers 2 sees the flying disc arcade sports game return with new characters, stages, and mechanics. I liked the original quite a bit on PS Vita, but Windjammers 2 is better in every way. It is our winner for the best sports game on Steam Deck. Football Manager 2023 is available on just about every platform right now, but the full PC experience is available on the go only through Steam Deck. It is our runner-up winner.
Runner-Up: Football Manager 2023
Best Fighting on Steam Deck
The King of Fighters XV
The King of Fighters XV with its robust online play, massive roster, and fun gameplay is our winner for the best fighting game on Steam Deck. It has gotten some notable additions and improvements since launch as well, making it one of the best modern fighting games available. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle R, our runner-up, is a fun anime battler, but one that is let down by its online netcode.
Runner-Up: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All-Star Battle R
Best Retro Game Collection on Steam Deck
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is a release I never thought would exist with licensing, but here we are. I liked it enough to buy it on all platforms because it brought back a few of my childhood favorites, and introduced me to TMNT games I hadn’t played before. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection is our winner for the best retro game collection on Steam Deck, and Digital Eclipse went above and beyond with the extras in it, alongside our runner-up, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration. This is the only award where both the winner and runner-up are by the same developer.
Runner-Up: Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration
Best Multiplayer Game on Steam Deck
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
When I played Final Fantasy XIV a few years ago on PS4, I did some remote play to try it on PS Vita while my TV wasn’t available. Fast forward to today and the full Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker experience is available natively on Steam Deck. I’ve even played it in coffee shops over my phone hotspot. Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, our winner for the best multiplayer game on Steam Deck, is superlative on Valve’s handheld. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, our runner-up, feels perfect on Deck as well with support for Valve’s Remote Play Together.
Runner-Up: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge
Best Platformer Game on Steam Deck
Sackboy: A Big Adventure
Sackboy: A Big Adventure alongside Tearaway are my favorite platformers published by Sony. When Sackboy: A Big Adventure was confirmed for PC, I was hoping it would be a good conversion. Having played it on Steam Deck, it is an easy recommendation, and our winner for the best platformer game on Steam Deck. It also has one of the best blends of original music and licensed songs in its soundtrack. Our runner-up, Tinykin, wasn’t even on my radar until I read Shaun’s review. It is one of the nicest platformers I’ve played in recent years.
Best Strategy Game on Steam Deck
Victoria 3, our winner of the best strategy game on Steam Deck, is a grand strategy game that impressed me quite a bit on Steam Deck. Despite being designed for keyboard and mouse play, a community controller layout fixed my control issues, and the gameplay suits the pickup and play nature of the Steam Deck. It is also dangerously addictive. Our runner-up, Knights of Honor II: Sovereign feels like an accessible take that blends in aspects of each Crusader Kings and Total War with an outstanding soundtrack.
Runner-Up: Knights of Honor II: Sovereign
Best Simulation Game on Steam Deck
Two Point Campus
I first played Two Point Campus through the Switch release, but have been enjoying it a lot more on Steam Deck recently. The follow-up to Two Point Hospital shines on Valve’s portable, and is our winner for the best simulation game on Steam Deck. It even had some excellent DLC recently released adding in more of everything I liked in the business simulation game. Our runner-up, Dwarf Fortress, was a very close second. It has a steep learning curve, and has a few issues with save files if you play on multiple platforms, but is one of the deepest and most polished games you can play in the genre.
Runner-Up: Dwarf Fortress
Best Visual Novel on Steam Deck
While Digimon Survive does have some combat sections, it is mostly a visual novel, and a damn good one. It has a darker than expected story as well. Hopefully Bandai Namco works on this base for a sequel in the future. It is our pick for the best visual novel on Steam Deck for 2022. Spike Chunsoft’s Chaos;Head Noah is our runner-up winner. I’m glad this finally made it to the West, but hope it can see some of its localization issues addressed in patches.
Runner-Up: Chaos;Head Noah
Well there you have it. Those are my picks for the best games across different genres on Steam Deck. 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 like me?