"Run"able games - short games or modes you can replay over and over

This is part 'recommend me' thread and part 'recommend you' thread.

Lately I've been loving solid games that I can start a run and finish in an hour, and pick it up again later to do it again, and again, and again. Mostly that's been Binding of Isaac: on Eden (randomized starting stats and items) hard mode. I've had hundreds of wins in this mode, a personal best streak of 13 in a row, and it just doesn't stop being fun over multiple years.. In fact I can't see any reason to stop. Maybe they'll totally screw it up with the next expansion and ruin it, but I doubt it.

I'm not normally the sort of gamer that sticks with one game. I'm more of a tourist, playing games for at most 2 weeks and moving on. If you've got Binding of Isaac, or Slay the Spire, or Dead Cells and never got deep into them, I recommend you give them a try. The game changing pick-ups in each one give you a novel experience every time; and winning is just so much fun.

Now for the recommend me. I'm sure I've missed games with similar qualities. I'd love to try some out. I think the main three qualities that fit the bill here are:

  • Tight gameplay, great controls, snappy responsiveness
  • Short cycle from beginning to end, no more than 90 minutes on a solid run
  • Randomization in the start and along the way to keep things fresh

One note, a lot of these features are shared by most rogue-likes and some rogue-lites; except in most at least for me, a successful run is generally hours long and in most the progression path tends to be pretty fixed. In all 3 of my examples there are multiple physical paths, and multiple valid strategies, so if you're thinking of one to toss up, consider that. For example, I didnt glom onto Caves of Qud, which is a fantastic game, in the same way as the above examples because even when you get good at it, you wouldn't really 'run' it. Its too long and too samey from run to run.

Slay the Spire would be my go-to for this, but you already covered it.

Risk of Rain

Children of Morta came out at the beginning of this month, and is great. Play this roguelite like a twin-stick shooter on a controller for great fun. Lots of upgrades to unlock along the way, including new characters that feel dramatically different from each other, and each character has a skill tree to progress.

UnderMine is still in early access, but it feels very polished. Tons of incremental improvements to unlock along the way. I picked this up on a whim late last night after watching a YT gameplay video, and I've already clocked 7 hours. I haven't been able to put it down.

Disclaimer: I haven't beaten either of these games, so I don't know if the end-game continues being great, or falls apart or whatever.

Ooh I forgot about Risk of Rain, that's such a good one, really hard. I never really got mastery over it. How does RoR 2 feel from the 'runnable' game perspective? I honestly haven't looked too hard at it.

Children of Morta looks lovely. I want to see what kind of staying power it has with folks before I jump on it.

Hades! Got to go to the Epic Store to get it for now, and still early access. Fun, lots of weapons and various other boosts that make every run different, and the speedruns of it are in the 9-10 minute range for however many bosses there are (3-4?) in a run. I defeated the first boss for the first time recently and highly recommend the game for recovering Isaac addicts who want something to scratch the itch that isn't actually Isaac.

The thing that Isaac has that this doesn't for me, thus far anyhow, is the constant notion of betting on yourself. It's there a bit - whether to buy health in a shop and which path to take - but at least thus far there's no Devil Room mentality where you're really betting on your own skill and how much better you'll be with whatever upgrade.

polypusher wrote:

Children of Morta looks lovely. I want to see what kind of staying power it has with folks before I jump on it.

I am also looking for some indication that Children of Morta is at the level of the big bads in this game-type (OP's list - Isaac, StS, Dead Cells). I understand Wizard of Legend to be something, and some folks like Streets of Rogue, though I keep losing interest in it. I'm also staring at Hyper Parasite as a possibility, but not even sure if it fits the category.

I think the rarest breed is those that meet your 3rd criteria - randomization in the start. StS is virtually unplayable for me now because of this (to be fair, I put a lot of hours in) and even Isaac, which I irresponsibly regard as the best game ever made, only has early run differentiation if you pick a particularly weird character or get something really game-changing early, like Epic Fetus.


Noita is quickly becoming my go-to short-run game. Early access. It's a delightful roguelite romp as a destructive wizard in a cave full of explosives, acid, and unstable formations. Probably my new favorite past-time. The level of creativity and destruction this game allows for is incredibly fun. Each map is procedurally generated and notably different each time. I've wandered into portals that have taken me new places, so don't give up if you're bored of the first cave.

I got it on steam because I found it there, but it's available on itch.io and humble as well!

Every pixel is simulated.

I can't wait to get a chance to play that game.

I'd recommend giving Downwell a go as well. Good runner/esq game, which differs each time you play. The Switch version lets you play with the screen turned 90 degrees for a full screen experience.

Superflight. Pick up and play, easy to learn, tough to master.

I've had my eye on Cogmind for a while. I haven't played it, but I've heard nothing but fabulous things about it.

I've also re-started a Rogue Legacy game recently, after not touching it for years. Man, I entirely forgot how challenging it is!

And big shout out to 868-HACK, which is one my favorite "this teleconference no longer concerns me" games.