While immersing yourself in a game for hundreds of hours has its merits, there’s a special sense of reward that comes with finishing a full game in a single play session. Shorter video games offer complete, digestible gameplay experiences that can stick with the player long afterward. For this article, we’ve listed several brief yet memorable video games that can be knocked out in less than a few hours.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a heartfelt story that highlights the importance of family and cooperation. You play as two brothers, who you must control simultaneously using the joysticks on your controller. This unique mechanic makes for some interesting puzzles that require a bit more ingenuity than the typical puzzle platformer. The brothers must trek through golden farmlands, dank caves, and arctic terrain in search of a cure for their ailing relative. A touching narrative unfolds as you help the brothers overcome various challenges, so be prepared for the game to hit you right in the feels.
A Bird Story
From the creative minds behind To The Moon, A Bird Story is an hour-long 2D narrative about a boy and his adopted bird. The game isn’t as much of a ‘game’ as it is an interactive animation, since the gameplay mainly consists of walking from one location to the next to trigger each cut scene. A Bird Story conveys its poignant tale entirely through pixel art visuals, without any dialogue. The quality of the narrative makes up for its relatively simple gameplay, so we recommend setting aside an hour of your day to experience this charming story.
Gone Home is another title that has expanded the definition of what it means to be a ‘game’. In Gone Home, you play as a girl who has just returned to her family’s house after spending time abroad. You feel a bit uneasy when you find no one is home to greet you, as you expected to find at least someone. The only thing left to do is explore the house with the hopes of figuring out where your family went, which should only take you three or four hours depending on how thoroughly you investigate. Gone Home is a great example of emergent storytelling that hinges on the player’s own interpretations. Plus, there’s plenty of 90’s memorabilia sprinkled throughout the house to send some players down memory lane.
Abzu presents a deep sea adventure centered around exploration and discovery. Players control a skilled diver who swims through a series of stunning and vibrant underwater locations. Each environment is teeming with an assortment of fish and aquatic creatures, many of which can be interacted with and will even swim alongside you.
Aside from the initial control scheme tutorial, there’s no dialogue or overt directions to tell you where to go, encouraging you to immerse yourself in each new area. The fluid movements of your diver and relaxing music can be rather therapeutic. You can push forward to complete the game in just a couple of hours, but the synchronized swimming and meditation mode can easily keep you occupied for a bit longer. Abzu comes from the art director of Journey, which is another notably short game worth exploring.
Firewatch is a mysterious first-person adventure that takes place in the late 80’s. You play as Henry, a newly recruited firewatch tasked with keeping an eye out for wildfires in the Wyoming wilderness. After a series of strange occurances, Henry begins to question his own safety and whether more nefarious events are afoot.
The most human interaction you have is with another firewatch named Delilah, who is stationed in a watch tower further off in the distance. Firewatch is known mainly for its well-acted, convincing dialogue between these two characters. Although the ending may leave something to be desired, the interactions between Henry and Delilah are worth sticking around for.
For more indie games that are worth your time, check out our list of the Best Indie Games of 2016.