The Steam Deck is a certified game-changer. When Valve released its monumental new handheld PC, it was embraced rather enthusiastically by the tech community. But let’s be honest. It is a tad expensive. Especially the more tricked-out models. And don’t even mention the accessory add-ons. The costs can mount up pretty quickly.
Lots of free games!
Luckily, the Steam store is filled to the brim with free games to play. I know when I first bought my Steam Deck, I spent some time filling up the included storage with a bunch of free stuff. And I’m not talking about free-to-play garbage full of micro-transactions and season passes. I mean a whole bunch of complete gaming experiences with most, if not all, of the player experience included. Granted, they may not be super long but come on! These are all free. Can’t expect a completely full-fat experience.
Below I’ve compiled a list of free games that have been classified either as Verified or Playable for Steam Deck. There are also a few that aren’t classified as either but they still work anyway. A word of warning though. Some (many!) are not suitable for kids.
Aperture Deck Job – Verified
Okay, so my first pick is probably the biggest no-brainer of the entire list. Aperture Deck Job is the first thing anyone new to the Deck should download. It was specifically made by Valve as an introduction to the Steam Deck. Plus, it’s actually quite fun and full of that classic portal-esque humour. Promise my other suggestions will be a little more original!
Bloody Hell – Playable
In the world of Bloody Hell, angels are depicted as birds and devils as swine. Join one of those angelic avians on a quest to vanquish Satan! Yeah, this game is great. A polished top-down shooter with tight controls and some downright beautiful pixel art.
Chex Quest HD – Playable
Chex Quest has a bit of a history behind it. Originally created in 1996 to promote the Chex brand of cereal, it has gained a solid fanbase since. Mainly as it is a non-violent conversion of the much more graphic Doom. This updated HD version once again brings 5 levels of Fred Chexter and his friends zorching Flemoids all over the place. Yeah, just roll with it OK?
Dagon by H. P. Lovecraft – Verified
H. P. Lovecraft has been a major influence on innumerable counts of work, and Dagon is one such piece. Based upon his short story of the same name, this interactive experience recounts the author’s publication from 1919. Best played with headphones on and the lights turned off.
Doki Doki Literature Club (Original) – Playable
Probably one of the more famous games on this list. I felt many emotions throughout my time playing this game. It starts out being really uncomfortable. Further in, things start getting weird. And then downright unsettling. This horror game expertly handles the juxtaposition of sickly sweet dating sim tropes and sweat-running-down-your-back horror.
Emily Is Away – Playable
Since I grew up in the 90s and 00s this game brings back a flood of nostalgia. The chunky Windows 2000-esque graphics and pop culture references of that time speak volumes to me. If played with a keyboard, it has the nice touch of making you type on it to reply to characters, even though what you say is mostly fixed. Obviously, it is still playable without one. Kinda just isn’t the same though.
The Expendabros – Verified
An Expendables-themed spin-off of the fantastic Broforce game. Not convinced yet? Alright. You can play as 7 of your favourite Bro-ified characters from the first movie through 10 full-throttle missions. Includes the likes of Bro Caesar, Bro Christmas, and Broney Ross. Yeah, honestly, I’ve never actually watched any of those films but I adore the original Broforce game. And I will do anything for some more sweet explosions.
Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator – Playable
As someone who missed out on the Five Nights At Freddie’s craze, I’m not sure where this fits into the lore. It’s really fun though. I’m a big fan of simulation games, and having one set in Scott Cawthon’s crazy universe is a stroke of sheer brilliance.
I Love You, Colonel Sanders – Playable
When I first heard that KFC had commissioned a dating game starring their historical figure, I wasn’t convinced. Curiosity overcame me though, and after playing the hour-longish story, I was pleasantly surprised. I Love You, Colonel Sanders is a parody of conventional dating simulators. And parodies are great. Well. Some parodies. Including this one.
Lure – Unknown
Lure is probably the shortest game on this list, but it is no less enjoyable. Arriving at a forbidden Shinto shrine, the player is asked to go fishing for an old man. Ooh, mysterious! Much like The Tartarus Key, the low-poly retro PlayStation aesthetic really enhances the experience. Plus, it only has one achievement, so the completionists out there will also be happy.
Martial Law – Verified
Many games are about escaping the drudgery of life and becoming a bad-ass hero. In contrast, Martial Law is a game about the difficulties of life under Communism in 1980s Poland. Yeah, a very specific subject then. Honestly, this is the type of game I find fascinating. A snapshot of a place or time I’ve never experienced. Seeing the world through a lens wholly different to mine.
The Murder of Sonic The Hedgehog – Playable
Poor Sonic. Some may argue that he was already murdered to death before this game came out thanks to a host of exceedingly terrible games. Thankfully, this one is actually pretty good. Developed for release on April Fool’s Day, it was positively received for many things including art style and humour.
The Plan – Playable
I wouldn’t actually call The Plan a game. It’s more of…an experience. I can’t say that the ending is life-changing but it did make me sit back and think…”Huh? That was unexpected.” And what more can you ask for? There’s also something that happens after the game has ended that does make it worth playing through again one last time.
Republique – Verified
Originally released on smartphones, Republique is one of the few games I ever played on the defunct Google Stadia platform. If you want a stealth game set in a fictional totalitarian dystopia, then this is for you. It does look a little janky at times, but for a game originating on a smartphone, it’s held up fairly well.
Space Runaway – Verified
Sometimes a person needs a bit of classic retro arcade shmup action. Enter Space Runaway. Released as a playable teaser for Wanted: Dead, it’s a competent tough-as-nails space side scroller. It’s also playable in-game, but a free download is a free download. Just remember to memorize those enemy patterns!
The Static Speaks My Name – Unknown
Another weird one. The Static Speaks My Name is a short game that starts out fairly normal and then basically tips over the edge into crazy land. The graphics are incredibly clunky but this actually adds to the creepy vibe. Thankfully it does have multiple endings so there is replay value.
The Supper – Unknown
The Supper stars Ms. Appleton. Help this sweet old lady collect ingredients so that she can feed some distinguished guests. Ah! That sounds lovely! Wrong! The Supper is an exploration of the darker side of the human soul. Because of course, it is. Do you think I would recommend anything different?
You Will <Not> Remain – Playable
It is the end of the world. Above your apartment building floats an Eldritch horror. You’ve been advised to stay inside. Time blurs into an incomprehensible mess. And you are accompanied by one weird-looking dog. You will <Not> Remain is an unsettling story about isolation and mental health issues. Do not miss out on this one.
Well, that’s my list of games you should download and play on your Steam Deck! I plan to update this page in future to include any other awesome games I uncover. If you have any recommendations please let me know! I’m always on the lookout for some awesome mini gems to experience. This list has been around in some form since 2018, so it’s a pretty decently curated one.