Steam Deck Review – Notes From a Cosy Gamer

I’m not here to do mods, I don’t know how to ‘tinker’, I haven’t f*cked your mom, I’m just a simple, cosy gamer sharing my Steam Deck review; a Nintendo fan girl who wants to have her cake and eat it without having to spend thousands on a proper gaming PC. That’s why when the Steam Deck was announced last year, I immediately pre-ordered without doing any financial calculations whatsoever. My toddler can eat dry toast for a few months, it’s fine.

The Steam Deck Has Landed

It was 9 months before the Steam Deck landed on my doorstep, and it was by far the hardest 9 months of my life. At least with pregnancy you get to see the build happening in front of your eyes, for all I knew Valve could delay this thing indefinitely and the suspense was absolutely killing me. 

When I finally had it in my hands, I waited until I had some time to myself and started the unboxing. It was like being transported to Christmas 1988 and unwrapping the NES all over again. There was something groundbreaking about this, something uncharted, and it had been a long time since I had felt this way about video game hardware.

So, what’s it like?

1. Comfort

When the first Steam Deck prototypes were made public, I found it pretty amusing how many comments there were about how uncomfortable it was to hold coming from people who had never held it. The Steam Deck is by far the most comfortable handheld gaming device I have ever used and I have been in this game since the late 80s when the first Game Boy was born.

2. Noise

So, the fan has been getting a lot of hate, and I get it, but here’s why it’s not a deal breaker for me; when I switched it on for the first time, the noise from the fan was the first thing I noticed, to the point where I thought maybe something was wrong. However, after consulting The Google I was assured this was a universal experience, and so I persevered. 

It took about 24 hours before I stopped noticing the fan noise completely. They have since installed a fix where you can tweak the fan speed, but because the noise doesn’t bother me anymore, I have kept it at its original setting. No one likes a sweaty deck.

3. Storage and Battery

I chose the most affordable Deck which has the lowest storage (64GB) since the games I play are not usually heavy and there is an SD slot if I ever need it. This has allowed me to have around 5 or 6 games installed at a time, which is plenty for me. In terms of battery life, at first it drained far too quickly, but I experimented with my FPS and have had no issues since. I routinely get a good 4-5 hours out of it which, considering what this machine does, is pretty impressive.

4. Playability

Given the overall comfort of the Steam Deck combined with its vast games library, this device is a cosy gamer’s dream. The Steam Library has a ‘Great on Deck’ section full of games that have been optimised for the Deck, guaranteeing a smooth gameplay experience, and one which I can vouch for. In terms of the games yet to be optimised, some work fine (Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture) whereas others are near impossible to play (Timberborn), but the Great on Deck library is growing pretty fast so there are no shortage of optimised titles that will quite happily empty your wallet.

I can’t write about playability without mentioning the Deck’s gyroscopic controls. This feature blew my mind. If you want to try it out yourself, Desk Job is a free-to-play game that shows them off wonderfully – and for the first time, I can see these being a thing as opposed to just a clumsy gimmick that has never come close to replacing buttons and thumbsticks.

5. Accessories

The Steam Deck comes with a free case, and it’s a good one, but there are loads available on the market if you want something more suited to you. In terms of skins, there are also plenty out there to choose from. I got mine from dbrand and, although I have PTSD from trying to apply it crease-free, it looks badass when it’s finally on there.

Valve does have an official Steam Deck dock in the works, although its release has recently been delayed with no revised date forthcoming. There are alternative docks available to buy today, however, for those who can’t wait any longer.

All in, the Steam Deck has been everything I dreamed of and more. I can’t vouch for the nitty gritty developer features because I’m only here for the farming sims and cosy quest games, but when it comes to the reality of what this machine does, Valve have really achieved an incredible feat. It works, it feels good, it looks good, it has an accessible price tag, and it gives casual, cosy gamers like me a way to play their favourite games without having to lay yourself bare to the often intimidating world of PC gaming.

For a list of calm, cosy games with substance, check out our handy games directory.

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