The short thread of short games for gamers who work long hours


Inspired by a recent exchange in the Xbox Gamepass thread, I thought it might be nice to have a place where we can recommend and discuss games on the shorter side. Be it work, other commitments, or just a healthy backlog. Sometimes the 30+ hour length of most popular games is too much to swallow.

I'm not necessarily talking about the swarm of roguelikes and time-wasters populating the Steam storefront, but rather those nice n' tight 10-20 hour stories that you may be able to knock out over a weekend; Firewatch, Portal, Inside, Mirror's Edge etc.

I'll start out with a question, but feel free to post some miscellaneous recommendations:

RPGs are known for being long games, what are some short RPGS?

Child of Light is the first game that comes to mind in terms of robust yet shorter JRPGs, I really enjoyed my time with it. Chrono Trigger is also fairly light, clocking in at around 20 hours. Personally, that's about my sweet spot. I much prefer shorter, yet replayable games like that over the monstrous 80+ hour commitments we've seen in a few of the more popular RPGs recently.

I thought of this after my post, but a 20-ish hour abridged Valhalla is basically Immortals Fenyx Rising. Obviously different setting, but very similar game structure. And… I haven’t gotten around to playing it yet either. But I at least hope to! Whereas Valhalla is a non-starter.

Some recent short game experiences I absolutely adored:

- The Forgotten City
- Unpacking

A_Unicycle wrote:

RPGs are known for being long games, what are some short RPGS?

Oh I should be more on topic.

I also recently was really enjoying Ikenfell. It’s a short rpg that lets you just blast through battles if you’re not interested in them, with no penalty, which I really appreciated.

I didn’t quite finish it before it left Game Pass, so I’ve been waiting for it to be on a sale to pick it up and finish it. It annoys me I already own it on PC, but my save that was 2/3 through the game is held captive on Xbox…

Solitaire Conspiracy is a great 5-6 hour game. Tails of Iron is also a really cool RPG that is worth a look if you haven’t seen it yet. Clocks in around 7 hours. If you want the triple A experience, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was great at around 8 hours.

Everything about this thread is delightful. I appreciate the header image very much.
These aren't absolute playtimes, just approximately how long they took me to complete, so your mileage may vary.

DeathTrash (8 hours)
Undertale (9 hours)
Bastion (12 hours)

Not RPGs
Before Your Eyes (2 hours)
Cats Organized Neatly (10 hours)
Doki Doki Literature Club (6 hours)
Dorfromiantik (endless)
Dream Daddy (6 hours)
Gone Home (3 hours)
Frog Detective - any game (2 hours ea)
The Librarian (1.5 hours)
Mind Scanners (9 hours)
Rose of Winter (2 hours)
Speed Dating for Ghosts (1 hour)
Tacoma (4 hours)

Good thread, and I look forward to checking out some of the games mentioned here. I find that I love the idea of sprawling, epic games and the promise of immersing oneself deep in a fantastical world for dozens of hours. In reality, though, my interest tends to wane after the 20-hour mark, if not before. And I get antsy thinking about all the backlog games I'm not playing while I work my way through whatever behemoth I'm attempting to tackle.

Anyway. Regarding RPGs.... Ruined King, the new (and very well-reviewed) turn-based RPG set in the League of Legends universe, is apparently quite short: 20 hours or so to complete the main storyline.

Also, although it's more of a Souls-like than a true RPG, I'd be remiss not to mention the game that began the discussion that led to the creation of this thread: Mortal Shell (10-15 hours)

I usually check How Long To Beat before I commit to starting a game. I still try to play a few longer ones but I have to space them out.

Some really good games that clock in at less than 10 hours:
- Bowser’s Fury
- The Artful Escape
- Dead Space 2
- Hyper Light Drifter
- Transistor
- Amid Evil

Oh, there are a few games mentioned here that have been on my radar but I had NO idea that they were so short. Ruined King, DeathTrash, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice are all very cool looking games I want to play and have now jumped up to the top of my list!

Also big yes to HowLongToBeat. I always check that site before buying a new game

For shorter RPGs

-Ys: Oath in Felghana is a challenging little ARPG that clocks in around 12 hours. It has great boss fights and great music.
-Cosmic Star Heroine is a jaunty little mix between Chrono Trigger and Phantasy Star IV, and is about 15 hours. I won't pretend it hits the highs of either of those games, but it's got some interesting ideas around managing abilities and turns as resources, and has a fun sci-fi setting.

And for short strategy games, I have to give a shout out to Slipways, where a session can be completed in less than an hour. It's like a space strategy/logistics/puzzle game.

Exo One is a 3-4 hour, chill exploration experience. It’s on Game Pass, and also has a demo.

Concrete Genie is a recent one that comes to mind, short and sweet.

I also appreciate the SteamWorld games for this. They're all pretty great.

ComfortZone wrote:

Concrete Genie is a recent one that comes to mind, short and sweet.

I also appreciate the SteamWorld games for this. They're all pretty great.

Love the Steamworld Dig games. Have played them both multiple times, very chill and short and sweet. Have yet to play other Steamworld games.

My GOTY last year, action RPG-ish Hob, took me about 12 hours, and it's really good.

I love this thread idea! I always check How Long To Beat and if it's more than 20 hours it better be damn good for me to play. I've got a full-time job, a toddler and a newborn - time's incredibly valuable.

What Remains of Edith Finch - 2-3 hours. It's an amazing walking-sim style game. The best of genre I've played. I can't recommend this highly enough, irrespective of time constraints.

Sable is great if you want a non-combat Breath of the Wild experience in 10-15 hours or less.

Return of the Obra Dinn is one of the best games ever, the best mystery game ever and only around 10-15 hours long. Papers, Please (by the same developer, Lucas Pope) is around 4-5 hours and also one of the greatest games ever - certainly the most fun you'll ever have doing paperwork. Again, both are games I'd consider essential irrespective of time constraints.

Sam Barlow's games are also brilliant. Her Story and Telling Lies. He also directed Silent Hill: Shattered Memories which is probably the most underrated horror game around. Certainly the most underrated of the Silent Hill series. Those are all somewhere between 2-6 hours to complete.

Tim Sheinman's games are for people who like Lucas Pope's and Sam Barlow's games, plus indie/Americana music. Most take barely more than an hour or so to complete, but I guarantee you'll be listening to their soundtracks for a hell of a lot longer. Most of his games are free to play in browser too, so no excuse!

Tangle Tower is a great point n click adventure that can be tackled in a weekend. Genuinely interesting mystery and characters.

A Short Hike

I adored Sayonara Wild Hearts. So worth the time. A good precursor to something like The Artful Escape.

Chicory: A Colorful Tale Is soooo gooooood. It’s on Playstation and PC, and is a delightful game. Very solid story covering emotions and friendship.

Haven is on everything and literally is the game I never knew how much I needed it to exist. A straightforward RPG-esque mechanic, but a very endearing story about love and choosing the person over the world’s pressure. Literally had me at “Hello” (the new game screen). IMAGE(

To the Moon, A Bird Story, and Finding Paradise are each only a few hours long. Gameplay lite, story heavy, fantastic soundtracks, and cheap ($4 or less right now on Steam). PC only I think, but should run on a potato and should really not be missed. This opinion from someone who typically dislikes pixel graphics games.

Bring tissues.

2nd What Remains of Edith Finch!

Not RPGs but The Last of Us and The Last of Us 2 are about 15 to 20 hours. I loved them both. The first one is one of the only games I've played through more than once. Funny thing is that it feels longer than that.

The first scene in The Last of Us just blew me away.

I remember Oxenfree to be both short (less than 20 hours) and very, very good.

I'm going through my Steam library,
says I played Inside for 6.5hours and I loved that game.

Firewatch is a 'walking simulator' with an engaging story that mostly works because of the superb voice acting. Steam tells me I invested 4.4hours

The Stanley Parable is short, funny and very smart.

What Remains of Edith Finch. Ah. Soooo creative and good.

10-20 hours is the perfect gamelength for me. I just finished RE: Village, it was a tight 9 hours.

Slightly different suggestion: Astroneer

Its a base-building survival game without a lot of pressure. Mostly all you have to worry about is your oxygen tank and some rare and easy to handle environmental hazards. Explore, Dig, refine resources, build rovers and rockets and jetpacks. The game says I have 36 hours in it. I'd say 10 were idle, and I had about 10 from playing it in Early Access many years ago.

It's tight and polished, probably the most approachable game of this genre. It's 'winnable' in 20 hours (because wow there's a point to it!) and you can play coop with some friends.

Some short games I really enjoy:

* Attack of the Friday Monsters (3ds)
* the various SteamWorld games
* Spaceplan
* Fairune
* Gunman Clive
* Ghost Trick (ds)
* Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian
* Lara Croft GO
* Thomas Was Alone
* Mom Hid My Game!

bobbywatson wrote:

My GOTY last year, action RPG-ish Hob, took me about 12 hours, and it's really good.

I tried the demo and it seemed like it had some intriguing ideas, but then some other shiny thing came along.

I'll give it a second look.

EDIT: currently $3 on Switch. That was an easy sell.

Ted wrote:
bobbywatson wrote:

My GOTY last year, action RPG-ish Hob, took me about 12 hours, and it's really good.

I tried the demo and it seemed like it had some intriguing ideas, but then some other shiny thing came along.

I'll give it a second look.

EDIT: currently $3 on Switch. That was an easy sell. :)

Curious to see what you'll think of it!

I thought of another one, but with some conditions.

After playing through Xenoblade Chronicles 1 three times, I found the Future Connected epilogue to be a really nice, standalone chapter.

From now on, it'll be what I reach for first when I want a small dose of XC1 gameplay.

The condition is that it's not a good recommendation for those who haven't finished the base game first.

I'm noticing a lot games being mentioned here are more narrative-driven experiences. Is it just that shorter "action" games are often within the rogue-something genre?

* Attack of the Friday Monsters (3ds)

I ADORED this game! I barely ever see it mentioned. It was cute as hell, did amazing things with the 3DS' hardware, and the card game was a nice little distraction. There were a few short games released around this time, Liberation Maiden was a top-down shooter that only lasted a handful of hours. I believe it was sold as part of a trilogy with Attack of the Friday Monsters?

The mention of Attack of the Friday Monsters made me think of another 3DS game that is also super short (and, I believe, came from the same collection): Crimson Shroud, helmed by Yasumi Matsuno (of Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Final Fantasy XII fame).

It feels very much like a table top RPG, where characters are basically small figurines that move on a board (and you get to roll the dice on the 3DS touch pad). I believe the first playthrough took me somewhere between 8 and 10 hours (although that may vary, because at some point story progression is based on a random loot).

Short non-RPG game I played today: Alba: A Wildlife Adventure. It was not exactly memorable, but is a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Make sure you get it on sale though, I don't think it's worth the regular price. It's a small open-world game where you play as a young girl named Alba, going around on a small Spanish island, taking pictures of animals and completing short quests.

My favorite short replay-able game when I want to fit a little gaming into a busy day is Rocket League

If you want an evening of Far Cry absurdity and haven’t played Far Cry 3 - Blood Dragon yet, it’s a very fun romp (just ignore most of the outpost recapturing). Started and finished it tonight, and smiled a buttload of times. Even the 360 version looks great on the Series X!