Even the best of us have occasionally felt a sense of open world fatigue. The truth is, while it's great to jump into a epic sized world with a million things to do, we don't always have 20 to 80 hours to dedicate to a single game. Sometimes you want a game that won't eat up your entire week. Here are 10 short that each have a plot, aren't episodic, and give you a lot of satisfaction for the time you spend with it.
*Note: Play times are based on the combined story, extras, and completionist average statistics shown on HowLongToBeat.com. Times are rounded up to the nearest hour.
[Average Time: about 4 hours]
Embrace your inner pyromaniac with Little Inferno. In this world, a bitter long winter leaves the world frozen. So, clearly the best way to entertain its children is by encouraging them to toss all their stuff into a fireplace. The premise is ridiculously simple. Toss toys and other items into a hearth, watch the flames consume them, and money pops out from the smoldering ashes. Use that money to purchase new items to burn, which lead to spectacular effects and combos.
Although it doesn't seem like there's a lot to the game, Little Inferno has a ton of charm and creativity, along with a cute plot. You can have an amazing time watching stuff burn.
[Average Time: about 2 hours]
As much a work of art as it is a game, Journey take players on a fantastic voyage. The story is told without a word, as players controlling two robed figures trek across a vast desert and make their way to through forgotten ruins. This timeless classic will soon be making its way to the PlayStation 4, so players old or new can experience the adventure on a new system.
The Order: 1886
[Average Time: About 8 Hours]
Although The Order: 1886 received quite a bit of criticism for being a short game, we argue that being able to finish the game in an afternoon isn't necessarily a bad thing. In that time, you meet interesting characters, and delve into a plot that involves the still living Knights of the Round Table fighting an ongoing war against monsters in an alternate Victorian-era London using powerful weapons.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
[Average Time: About 8 Hours]
Although we're singling out Advanced Warfare because it's the most recent game, Call of Duty campaigns have generally been regarded as short but sweet experiences since Modern Warfare 2. Since then, players have been treated to stories full of explosions and plenty of gunfire without having to dedicate an entire weekend toward enjoying it. In Advanced Warfare, you are given a captivating performance by Kevin Spacey and fight a war on a all-new level using EXO-suits. Although experiencing this all new addition to the Call of Duty universe might not take up all your time, we can't guarantee the same thing about the multiplayer.
Papo & Yo
[Average Time: About 4 hours]
Papo & Yo manages to take a serious and complex real world issue and capture it in a short but satisfying video game. You play as a young boy named Quico, whose best friend is a ferocious monster. Although the two have a great relationship, Monster is addicted to poisonous frogs, and will eat them up the moment he spots one, which sends him into a violent rage that no one is safe from. But Quico, in his surreal world of imagination, wants to find a way to save his beloved friend, and enlists other friends to help him find a way by manipulating buildings and solving puzzles. Developed as an allegory based on a true experience of a boy dealing with an alcoholic father, Papo & Yo is an experience that is both beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.
Child of Eden
[Average Time: About 4 hours]
While many may scoff at motion-based controls, Child of Eden, with its exceptionally beautiful mix of graphics and music, is an experience that shouldn't be missed. Project Lumi seeks to take the sum total of humanity's knowledge to create an artificial intelligence. However, it is under attack by a computer virus, and players must use their skills to protect Lumi from destruction. Fans of the classic game Rez for the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 might feel right at home with this spiritual successor, and experiencing this oftentimes surreal and captivating game will hardly put a dent in your day. Plus, you get a bit of a workout as a bonus.
[Average Time: About 6 hours]
Help Russian nesting dolls fight the injustice of forced child labor in Stacking. In it, you play as a small doll who escapes a forced labor camp and works to reunite the rest of his family. Although the topic might seem totally depressing, it's actually a quite humorous and lighthearted game. Players solve puzzles by leaping into other doll citizens, assume control over them, and use their unique skills to solve puzzles. While that might sound a little creepy, the citizens of this world are quite used to it. The trick is, you can only leap into a doll that's one size larger, so sometimes you'll have to take over multiple dolls before you can get the one you want. Those looking for something new and creative don't have to look much further than Stacking.
[About 4 hours]
Play as BUD ((Botanical Utility Droid), a robot with a green thumb, in Grow Home. His single mission is to save his home planet by harvesting seeds from a humongous alien plant. That means riding its vines toward nearby floating islands so that it can absorb nutrients and grow ever taller, until it reaches your spacecraft parked in low orbit. Along the way, you'll encounter wildlife and a gorgeous world to explore. Just watch your step, because it's a long way down.
A Story About My Uncle
[About 4 hours]
A Story About My Uncle take players on an adventure as a boy, equipped only with a handful of gadgets, searches for his lost uncle in a fantastical world. The game features beautiful levels and creatures, and has markedly non-violent gameplay. Run and jump across floating islands using a grappling hook and jet pack, uncovering clues along the way about your uncle's whereabouts. It's a bedtime story that won't take you all night to experience.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
[Average time: 3 hours]
Ground Zeroes is the first part of the "Metal Gear Solid Experience" that is set to conclude with The Phantom Pain. While this introduction to the MGS 5 world might not take very long to get through, players might want to take some time away from rushing through the plot to appreciate the gorgeous open world and embark on its unlockable side missions. This stealth action game provides a nice taste of things to come, and serves as a spectacular appetizer for The Phantom Pain, which will release this fall.
Honorable Mention: Far Cry 4
The average completion time for Far Cry 4's campaign is about 28 hours, and grows to almost double that for completionists. However, the game has a little Easter Egg in it that allows players to complete this massive open world game in less than 30 minutes. After the bus cinematic at the start of the game, players are taken to a palace, where they are treated to a meal and a round of psychotically violent entertainment by their host. After your guide is dragged away to be tortured, Pagan excuses himself by saying that he'll be back in about ten minutes. In the meantime, enjoy the crab rangoon.
The crab rangoon is sadly inedible, so players can take this time to make a hasty escape from the palace and embark on a hours long journey across Kyrat. Or, they can hang out for a while. After which, Pagan returns, apologizes for the long wait, and leads you to Lakshmana, where you leave your mother's ashes. Then Ajay hops aboard a helicopter, presumably to raise hell alongside Uncle Pagan, thus concluding the game in about 15 minutes.
Steven Wong posted a new article, 10 Games That Satisfy Without Taking Up All Your Time
I'd add Portal 1 and Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons to that list as well. :)
Oh man, Brothers was SO GOOD. I'd put it somewhere on my top games of all time list I think.
I might be alone, but I prefer Portal over the sequel. The first one was so tightly focused in tone and atmosphere.
I agree -- I like the focus of the original game a lot. The second one's cool, but the first game is such a great concept and it's delivered perfectly.
Not alone! I thought the first was a lot better.
Good choices. Brothers was amazing, and of course everyone knows Portal. Brothers was up there with something like Ico for me though, so good.
Jesus, I didn't even know that Far Cry 4 ending was possible. That's amazing.
haha, that's hilarious
Hahahhahah, hadn't heard about that.
Pagan hints on it pretty heavily when you finally meet him. He chews you out for not waiting.
Can't believe that Gone Home isn't here, so I'll just add it instead.
Needs more The Stanley Parable. There are a ton of games that fit that bill though. I love me a really good dense game.
This kinda leads into another discussion about games that are the opposite. I downloaded Final Fantasy Record Keeper on my phone to see what it actually was all about. Beyond some nice production value, it is a very rudimentary game built around character progression systems designed to be drawn out and addictive. There's nothing interesting about it. Uninstalled after maybe an hour total of playtime.
Terra Battle is way better in that it has a much more sane progression system that doesn't require a ton of micromanagement as well as more interesting gameplay but seems to require some grinding to keep up, so, not perfect either.
I think my tolerance for watered down gameplay has gone way down as I've gotten older.
A Story About My Uncle looks really fun; anyone played it? I hadn't heard of it before just now
The "Status Update: Single" ending for Shadow Complex should absolutely be on this list alongside Far Cry 4.