I’ve been playing the endless Assassin's Creed Origins, a game so gargantuan that the time on my save file lasts longer than Ancient Egyptian civilization did. This is a revenge mission stripped of all urgency by the simple fact of being five million hours long. Whatever big bad awaits at the end can rest easy knowing there are 800 fortresses to clear out before I reach him. Fearing a loss of sanity, I needed to remind myself of what progress actually felt like, so here are ten games you can see from start to finish in a more reasonable three hours.
The conclusion Noa and I reached after playing through these? Why aren’t all games three hours long? It’s not as if people take a shorter running time as an invitation to phone the game in; these are stories with as much of start, middle and end as their 100+ hour rivals, only they deliver it in a concentrated form.
Just as you master piloting your ship/car/tank-thing in Far: Lone Sails along comes a new contraption or hurdle to challenge your approach. And the moment you’ve got a firm footing in Californium, here’s a reality-flipping rugpull - oh, and another. And why not? It’s not as if the game has to dawdle to hit an arbitrary ten hour finish line.
And there are those ideas that probably couldn’t sustain themselves for longer. Chuchel’s comedy stylings borrow from demented animated shorts of Tom and Jerry; it’d be bordering on animal cruelty to ask the cast to perform for longer. And your meta-games, your Pony Island and the like, are always better served with brevity; two hours of winks and nods before the gag outstays its welcome.
Of course, there are hundreds of examples we couldn’t fit in the list - I feel a bit bad for not including the masterful Edith Finch - so please do suggest your favourites in the comments. You could also check out Alec’s wonderful list of bite-sized games for busy lives. His thirst for diddy delights comes from being a dad, which sounds like a lot more work than slowly killing everyone in pretend Egypt.
If you enjoyed the video, you might consider subscribing to the RPS YouTube channel. Now that we’ve set you up with these short games, you’ll have more time for watching us blathering on.