Satisfying "Short" Games

I‘ve come to really appreciate shorter “no filler” type games that can be completed fairly thoroughly in only a few sittings. Specifically, these are the kinds of games that I can play through once to appreciate the story and/or gameplay and feel totally satisfied moving on from after seeing credits. Some relatively recent examples for me would be The Return of the Obra Dinn, INSIDE, Headlander, or What Remains of Edith Finch. These are great as a palate cleanser between larger games, or just as something I can feel better sinking time into with a reasonable expectation that I won’t just abandon it forever many hours in. If there is a clever or unique gameplay mechanic, such as in Obra Dinn, I really appreciate it when the developer can explore it to its fullest without what feels like padding.

I'm curious what games fit this bill for other IC forum members. I would say maybe 5-8 hours or so is a decent ballpark, but feel free to interpret "short" and "satisfying" however works for you!

I love arcade games because they're all vertical slice and can (theoretically) all be beaten in a sitting. As far as narrative short games, Beginners Guide is tops for me.

A Short Hike is the obvious answer perfect short game.

@kory#22962 I‘m always torn on this subject, but I think it’s mostly because games rarely get it exactly right– it‘s really easy to go too long on a premise or mechanic that doesn’t support that much time spent, or to go short on a premise or mechanic that would be perfect for a longer experience. One that for me gets it just right is a Short Hike! (EDIT: @shane jinx!) It does exactly what it needs to, but doesn't overstay its welcome.

I'm always gonna recommend this “weird fiction” and horror-ish game Dear Substance of Kin: Dear Substance of Kin by Deconstructeam, Ivan Papiol

creates a creepy/cryptic mood and vibe immediately and doesn't outstay its welcome.

I thought Golf Story was really great. I didn't think it was too long, and the gameplay was simple and unique enough to keep me wanting to play more once the story was finished.

@shane#22965 It really is.

I played through both Gris and What Remains of Edith Finch on the switch recently. Both were around 4 hours long I’d say and both lovely little experiences.

may be cheating but I think a lot of IF is good for this. In part because the structure and duration already fits a short novel scope/pattern. I also like them from the perspective of palette cleansers bc given their obvious differences to audio visually elaborate other genres

for example

a mind forever voyaging
80 days

I enjoyed Adios recently. A short narrative focused game about a pig farmer who doesn‘t want to dispose of bodies for the mob anymore talking to his hitman friend who doesn’t want to have to kill him. It'll run you between 1 and 2 hours depending on how you go about it.


@yeso#22973 a lot of IF is good for this

Oh yeah! On that note I like Porpentine's Skulljhabit:

Anyone have some opinions on Return of the Obra Dinn? I‘m going to get a new game and I think I’m close to finishing Moon, so I'm wondering if its a good game for before bed. My other option is Dragon Quest X1.

obra dinn is good but it’s a pay attention game so may not fit your criteria of before bed game

Not a recent title, but Katamari Damacy seems to fit the bill of a satisfying short game.

@TheFragranceOfDarkCoffee#22975 How is that game? I want to buy it and play it for a short while when I end up the game I'm playing right now.


@xhekros#22988 I think it does a pretty good job at what it sets out to do given its incredibly low budget. I recommend it

Thanks for all the great recommendations!

@MichaelDMcGrath I was a huge fan of The Stanley Parable, but for some reason Beginners Guide totally passed me by, I should definitely give it a try

@shane @Karasu Yes, a Short Hike seems perfect! I mean "Short" is right in the title there...I think I got this one free on Epic a little while back so I'll put that on my list for sure. I really like the aesthetic--I think that low-res filter rubbed some people the wrong way, but it gives me a sort of PSX vibe.

@exodus Oooh, thanks for the rec. I feel like these short indie horror games might even be worth compiling in their own thread. I never really played many myself, but I used to watch Patrick Klepek stream a bunch of them when he was doing "Spookin with Scoops." This also reminds me that I keep meaning to check out the "Haunted PS1" games.

@SuperEffective I actually purchased Golf Story right when I got my Switch, but I think I was too engrossed in BOTW at the time. Thanks for reminding me of this game, it seems super charming!

@yeso I've heard good things about 80 days and the developer's follow up Heaven's Vault really intrigued me. This is more of a me problem, but I have trouble with narrative-heavy and gameplay-light games...I feel as if it would be more efficient to just read it in novel form than clicking through text boxes (this has been a big impediment for me trying out the visual novel genre or whatever you would consider games like Danganronpa). That all being said, one nite when I really have the time to sit down and focus I should give one of these a shot.

@TheFragranceOfDarkCoffee yah, I saw Adios come up on another thread (and Tim's rec) and it partly inspired me to start this one :)

@SuperEffective Don't sleep on Obra Dinn! It might have been my personal game of the year when it was released. Also, I agree with @yeso, probably not a great before-bed game, definitely need to pay attention. It is broken up into some nice discrete chapters, but I would probably advise against taking breaks mid-chapter so that the info you gather stays fresh in the noggin

@palo Older recs are more than welcome! I picked up Reroll on the Switch and got a few levels in, but I definitely want to finish it.

I want to add that Outer Wilds is really good. It’s all about exploration of a small solar system, controlling your ship and your little space person in your space suit investigating ruins across different worlds. I read from the developer that the Wind Waker was a big inspiration for them in terms of seeing an island in the distance and approaching it to find all its secrets. So this game is that kind of experience balloon-blown up for a whole game.

I didn’t keep track of how long I played but it didn’t take too many sessions. It’s definitely a slower paced game where you’ll need to enjoy just listening to the soundtrack and reading rather than something with thrilling action.

This game is big enough to feel mysterious but small enough to feel knowable/ attainable (some word that gets that meaning across). It gets a good recommendation from me.

Also a _very, very_ light non-story spoiler that can also be a point in its favor:

||If you know what you’re doing, the game can be really short. But the fun is in finding all the distant clues and piecing them together to reach the conclusion of the experience.||

Some of these are not as short, but they can be finished in one sitting.

  • * Rainy Season
  • * [Long Gone Days](
  • * [Coffee Talk](
  • * [Neo Cab](
  • * [Frog Detective 2](
  • * [Red Strings Club](
  • * [The Yawgh](