Pictured: The player holds a photo over a gap that comes to life.
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Viewfinder Steam Deck Performance
I was cautious about how well something as complex as Viewfinder would perform on the Steam Deck.
The big premise of Viewfinder is taking photos and using their contents to solve puzzles. See a photo of a bridge? Angle the picture in an empty space, press a button, and the photo becomes a 3D space incorporated into the world.
You’re going to see the term “mind-bending” a lot when it comes to Viewfinder and that’s because seeing it in action is genuinely a head trip. How something like this is possible is a testament to how clever game developers are.
On paper, such a clever mechanic seems like it’d struggle on the Steam Deck’s more handheld-focused tech. But in practice, Viewfinder runs exceptionally well on Steam Deck with a handful of tweaks.
The default settings are a good place to start, but as the world becomes more varied, the framerate can dip into the 40s. The solution here is to drop a few settings (outlined in-depth below). This frees up a bit of extra room and allows Viewfinder to run at a solid 60 frames per second with minimal dips.
Viewfinder Best Steam Deck Settings
From my testing, the biggest gains come from MSAA and shadow quality.
Drop MSAA down to 4x (from 8x), turn anti-aliasing on to SMAA, and drop the shadow quality down to high. That’s what I’ve been playing on and for the most part, it’s a super smooth experience. There will be minor dips here and there, but it’s not anywhere near constant enough to be a problem.
Does this cause a drop in visuals? Not especially. In docked mode, sure, you can notice a slight difference – shadows aren’t quite as dense – but everything still looks great.
In handheld mode, however, I can’t see anyone complaining. Thanks to the smaller screen the difference is so minimal most won’t even notice.
|Viewfinder (In-game Settings)|
|Steam Deck Settings (Quick Access Menu)|
|TDP: 10||Estimated Battery Life: 2 Hours|
|Docked Mode Resolution: 1280×720||FSR: On (Docked Mode)|
|GPU Usage: 84%||Temperature: 67 degrees|
|Battery Drain: 17.8w||FPS: 60|
|Fills the Entire Steam Deck Screen||Yes|
|Performance Rating: 5/5|
Bugs and Issues
So far, I haven’t experienced any major bugs or issues that have hindered enjoyment. I mentioned above there are dips occasionally, but most of those are fixed by switching up the graphical options, so it’s not a biggie.
Viewfinder is this year’s Portal. If you’re after something that’s always going to keep you on your toes and results in out-loud moments of “WHAT?!”
No amount of online videos can prepare you for how much Viewfinder plays with its world. Even as the end closes in, the game continues to shock and surprise.
I’ve made a point of limiting what I talk about and what I show when it comes to Viewfinder, simply because the shock and surprise is best experienced unspoiled.
I’ll leave you with this, though: If you want a mind-melting, approachable puzzle game, you won’t go wrong with Viewfinder. It’s as inventive as it is trippy, and around five hours of pure stimulation.
All screenshots captured on Steam Deck. | Review code provided by Thunderful Publishing.