"OOPS!! This game is less than 10 hours long and accidentally changed my life!"

As a young gaming fledgling I used to think the longer the game was, the better it was. I think this is the inherent mindset of most people who probably couldn‘t afford many games growing up and had to squeeze as much out of our small collections as possible - this also, I think, tends to be the mindset of people who play mostly popular games (I also suspect there to be a considerable overlap in these demographics). However, as I’ve gotten older and started digging more into obscure games, I‘m finding a lot of them to not only be surprisingly short, but also have beautiful, unique, or otherwise significant things to say that for some reason longer games can’t quite encapsulate. Two games I think of more than most AAA game released in the last decade are Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru and Ihatovo Monogatari, both being bite-sized little experiences that I don‘t think would be an exaggeration to say changed my life in some way. Might elaborate on that a little more in the thread if the mood is right! What are some games you’ve played that have stayed with you for years past their shorter-than-average playtime?

I find myself usually drawing a blank when it comes to talking about short (<10 hours) games that I really enjoy. Maybe that‘s because my tastes trend toward the more literary/longwinded in general, maybe because there aren’t enough short games made by people who really like short stories.

But then I remembered _Frog Fractions._ So I can add that to the discussion!

Looking over my Steam Library, if I were to stretch the 10 hour time limit a bit and cut my logged hours in half on my Steam account from when my partner played it, there‘s also Return of the Obra Dinn. You could play it in less than 10 hours if you were really smart and it’s pretty lifechanging!

@“Gaagaagiins”#p35771 I‘d recommend Ihatovo Monogatari if you’re looking for a game about short stories!! I mean, it's literally called “Stories of Ihavoto.” The conceit is that each “chapter” of the game is like a little encapsulated short story with its own narrative arcs that begin, climax, and end within maybe a half hour or so. And as I mentioned in this post, some of those stories have me still thinking back on them very often! Beautifully written game.


@“Funbil”#p35773 some of those stories have me still thinking back on them very often

Maybe a mark of a good short game is that you think about it longer than you play it

@“Gaagaagiins”#p35774 I think that's the mark of any good game regardless of length, no?


@“Funbil”#p35775 Gaagaagiins I think that’s the mark of any good game regardless of length, no?

I'd be worried about myself if I had spent as much time thinking about Final Fantasy XIV as long as I've played it. Sometimes I'm not thinking about Final Fantasy XIV while _actively in the process of playing_ Final Fantasy XIV!

My most life changing game under 10 hours was probably Yume Nikki, which I played when I was 16. It might take more than 10 hours to do everything there is to do in that game, but I only played for 5-7 hours.

Before playing that game I'd already (like many people) come to the conclusion that most of the things I like about RPGs have nothing to do with combat. But I still imagined an ideal combat-less RPG as being very dialogue heavy, doing lots of sidequests/errands for people (basically Moon, lol). This was before I'd encountered movies like Goodbye Dragon Inn that have, like, [three lines of dialogue](https://youtu.be/ieJ6GxhJKiA?t=2592) (or really any "visually artistic" movies for that matter). Yume Nikki was a very new experience for me, and opened my eyes to what someone can do with mediocre pixel art skills and enough technical knowledge to use RPG Maker. It was one of many steps in the realization that the vast majority of human experience (or at least what's interesting to me) has nothing to do with words or language, and doesn't need language to be expressed.

Anyways, there's a lot to be said about that game which I don't really feel like talking about now.

The Beginner's Guide

Hard to explain without spoiling it, but it is the length of a movie and I think about it more often than any other narrative focused game I've ever played.


@“Syzygy”#p35778 Lisa the Painful

Oh!! I feel like a sub 10 hour playthrough would be a pretty brisk one, but I also wanted to mention this game!

For a game that I think has some confusing and possibly bunk ass gameplay (which I say with both understanding and affection), it is brutal, evocative, sometimes laugh out loud funny [(UGHH-HUHG)](https://youtu.be/ckZlj2p8W9M), skin-crawling, and, I mean to use this word both honestly and specifically as a compliment, deeply and authentically deranged.

_LISA: The Joyful_ is tighter gameplay-wise which is good, and, vague spoilers about general story content, ||gives the story some fairly effective closure, although it never wholly seems to be able to regain that feeling of shock and disgust its predecessor was able to work with. It almost feels like LISA: The Painful _shouldn't have_ accompanying material to provide it with closure, it's a story that had an ending that worked well as a curtain falling on a gaping wound. That's just a vague feeling I have, though.||

Either way both games are one of those "products of an uncompromising vision" we see only every once in a while. Will it repulse you, or fascinate you? Well, more like, will it repulse you or repulse and fascinate you? Only one way to find out.

I only beat it last month, but I haven‘t stopped thinking about Kentucky Route Zero. Just all these small people trying to get by in a hard world. The first “adult” game I think I’ve played.


@“Syzygy”#p35789 The minimum story path is definitely shorter than 10 hours, maybe 5, but there’s a lot of optional stuff both obvious and hidden most players will want to do. (Another complication to ranking games as short / long, heh, heh.)

Another complication here is that I am a perpetual alt-tabber and can get distracted even from my distraction and I suppose all of my steam play times cannot be used as a reliable indicator of how long I've actually _played_ a game.


@“Syzygy”#p35789 Only game to make me laugh at burning child orphans to death

Exactly! I am real fascinated by stuff that can make me feel not just extreme emotions, but on multiple extremes back and forth. Yes I am a big fan of Bong Joo-Ho.


@“Syzygy”#p35789 However, I strongly disagree on “confusing and bunk ass”,

I'll admit it maybe just gets me in my blindspots then, or I maybe just had bad luck putting time into characters that weren't good for me at the time, or low comprehension of party comp. It does activate my more un-fun compulsions to min-max in a way where I get too zeroed in on just doing the optimal strategy so I could get through battles quicker without having to restart. I don't feel that's completely my fault but I won't blame the game wholesale either.

To walk back my somewhat irresponsible dismissal of the game's combat, even though it did often frustrate me, that's "kind of the point," but in a way that isn't facile, and even though I ultimately didn't love the combat, it was more than worth it to keep interacting with it to appreciate everything else about the game.

Although... forgive me Syzygy, for I have sinned... ||I lightly save scummed the Russian Roulette sequence, but in my defense, I had such extraordinarily bad luck I thought losing almost my entire party was scripted. I'm pretty sure I reloaded but only once... maybe twice.||

My favorite short game is probably INSIDE. I bought it and wanted to just show a friend how cool it looked real quick before getting into it and I ended up playing through the whole thing and we were so enthralled. Took about three hours. Such a cool, deep story packed into a little game. Makes you think about it after you turn it off.

Not to be the guy who just shows up to share great hbomberguy videos but


I haven’t actually played any of these games yet but would like to.


@“Syzygy”#p35802 Just while I’m talking about the game, I think the coolest thing about it is that every “random encounter” is a character with a unique name and sprite— and final words.

I get random spurts of inspiration to make an RPG Maker game one of these days... part of what keeps stopping me is that I just don't feel I could bring myself to design it to have random encounters, but I'm also well aware how much extra work and planning that would take.

I've developed a horrendous habit where I google “hltb <game title>” and when I see that sweet 6-10 hour boundary I feel relaxed and calm.

i put Kaeru no Tame Ni on my top ten games in the other thread so like your example is straight off the bat there. Titles like Metroid Zero Mission recently have been a god send when I want something just a few hours long that I can checklist in my head without it starting to feel like a chore.

It does seem like a lot of the time when a game is shorter it focuses on a singular theme or mechanic in a way that feels more meaningful than say, 70 hours. Anything outwears it's welcome after 70 hours.

80 days $5.19 steam summer sale!


It‘s been mentioned already but I’ll echo: Return of the Obra Dinn. The only game to make me wish for amnesia.

A Short Hike can probably be beat in less than an hour without even trying to speedrun but I enjoyed living and gliding around that island so much my first playthrough probably lasted 3-4 hours.

  • - Portal
  • - Journey
  • - Her Story
  • - Attack of the Friday Monsters
  • - Hypnospace Outlaw (though I probably spent longer than 10 hours living in that world, it can be completed fairly quickly)
  • >

    @“Auberji”#p35825 Titles like Metroid Zero Mission recently have been a god send when I want something just a few hours long that I can checklist in my head without it starting to feel like a chore.

    I just did my first playthrough of Metroid: Zero Mission recently and cleared it in 4:19:59....... So close to greatness.

    @“yeso”#p35826 I can vouch for this! I played a big chunk of it on Yeso’s recommendation in a tiny hotel room the weekend before starting a new job, when there was like two feet of snow on the ground. It was great.

    yeah 80 days is great at producing discrete “short story” length narratives. It‘s incredibly well-paced. Best five dollars and nineteen cents you’ll ever spend

    edit: just noticed the bone-chilling phrase "steampunk twist" in the steam description. Don't let that scare you it's just Jules Verne 20000 leagues under the sea type stuff