I rarely find myself trying to do everything an open-world game has to offer since side content is often dull and not worth the time investment. However, something about Spider-Man wowed me when I played it on PlayStation 4 and I wound up completing every facet of the game on my way to getting the Platinum trophy as the gameplay was just that satisfying, and swinging around felt that much fun. I did the same with Miles Morales on PlayStation 5 (along with spending some time with its own remastered release), and now I’m gleefully playing Spider-Man for a third time with the Steam release of Spider-Man Remastered.
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While the standard PC release wouldn’t have done all that much for me as the game looks fantastic and runs well on PlayStation 5, I was tantalized by the option of it running on Valve’s Steam Deck, a handheld PC that is an emulation powerhouse and gets solid performance out of many new releases. I’ve always gravitated toward handheld gaming, and to my delight, Spider-Man Remastered not only plays great on the system (although it takes a bit to get used to using Xbox controller buttons with a first-party Sony game), but it is perfectly suited for shorter gaming sessions.
Due to its design, Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man is also naturally suited for smaller gameplay sessions as even the single-player missions aren’t too long with most lasting less than 20 minutes, cutscenes included. With side missions that are structured as challenges, it’s also easy to replay the side content in an attempt to get a higher score.
It’s something I can fire up for just a few minutes and satisfyingly knock a few things off the to-do list, which is nice considering how large the game actually is when going for 100% without being too bloated like other open-world games. Such games likely wouldn’t be as satisfying to play in short chunks and not as fit for the Steam Deck. Its sequel, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, is much smaller in scale, so it will also naturally fit on the handheld PC as well when it comes out later in 2022. These are great showcases for Valve’s technical marvel as they look and run great to an impressive degree (and further underline how badly Sony missed the mark with the Vita).
I’ve never been a tech geek to the degree where I’d be analyzing anti-aliasing and so forth, but I was shocked at how well Spider-Man Remastered ran on the portable device. Sure, there are some drops when swinging through the massive open world of New York City, but the game looks great and can be altered for better performance. To get the most out of the game, I highly suggest watching Digital Foundry’s wonderful breakdown of its performance and what settings to tweak to optimize your play (it’s shocking how much hair bogs down the game). All things considered, the game plays quite well on medium settings with little tinkering, and players can min-max the various performance factors to their delight (although battery life isn’t going to be great regardless as it really is the Steam Deck’s biggest inhibitor in general).
Of course, there is some PC wonkiness that you sadly have to expect with Steam Deck releases at this point. Once upon boot-up, the game thought I was playing with a mouse and keyboard rather than a gamepad and wasn’t taking my inputs in. This eventually sorted itself out, and it wasn’t a terrible burden, but it really underlines the difference between console and PC play with the amount of variables and issues one can run into. Anyone that has played the PlayStation 5 version of Spider-Man will also have to get used to the lengthy load times on the Steam Deck that were all but eliminated in the current-gen port. They’re small squabbles of an incredibly well-done conversion, but ones that should be noted regardless.
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Spider-Man Remastered retains everything that made it great on Sony’s consoles on Steam Deck. The missions are a blast, the core gameplay fulfills the hero fantasy perfectly, and the story does a great job of showing different perspectives. There’s a bit of added jank, but it plays quite well on Steam Deck and any technical shortcomings are easily forgiven due to the portable nature and smaller screen. If you haven’t played it before or just want to give it another whirl, this is a must-have game for Steam Deck owners.