These days, so many games are incredibly lengthy experiences. Whether it’s a sprawling single-player RPG or a multiplayer title with seemingly limitless content, games are seldom completed in an afternoon. But fortunately, there are plenty of titles that are not so massive and complicated! Lots are briefer experiences you can enjoy and finish in one sitting! So let’s get together and stay up all night to play these games!
Thomas Was Alone
While it’s one of the longer titles on this list, Thomas Was Alone is the kind of narrative-driven experience that doesn’t feel anywhere close to its actual running time. The puzzles and platforming are simplistic enough to keep things moving at a steady pace, while still allowing the player to feel like they’re making meaningful inputs. Plus, the story itself is incredibly charming and thought-provoking, particularly for a game whose cast is exclusively made up of quadrilaterals
To the Moon
Full disclosure: this is one that I distinctly remember not beating in one sitting. However, between its beautiful soundtrack and tear-jerking story, To the Moon is a game that begs to be experienced in one solid run, rather than being broken up by unnecessary interruptions. It’s certainly not a deal breaker if you can’t devote the full four hours to it, but then try to split it into two two hour sessions or something similar. Your heart will thank you, even if your tear ducts don’t.
Doki Doki Literature Club
Doki Doki Literature Club has a lot of variance when it comes to how long it will take you. There’s several opportunities for experimentation and whatnot, so it can be quite easy to get lost for many hours. On the other hand, I found myself getting totally hooked on it one evening, in which I plowed through the main story and all the… ahem… “twists” in two or three hours. Depending on how deep you want to dive, completing it in one sitting may be unrealistic. However, getting at least the preliminary experience in that first play session makes subsequent ones even more appealing.
Savant: Ascent doesn’t have much of a story to speak of, but the reason to play it in one sitting is more due to the score. Featuring a host of tracks by the titular real-world electronica artist, Savant: Ascent ends up feeling almost like a manic music video. Not only that, but it has absolutely gorgeous pixel art from the same studio behind the incredible Owlboy . Throw on some good headphones, and get ready to spend the next hour jamming your way to the top of Savant’s tower.
Jazzpunk is a game that you should be in the right mindset for. If you’re not willing to embrace its zany, nonsensical humor and endless fourth-wall breaks, you’ll probably find yourself growing sick of it quite quickly. For this reason, though, it’s a fantastic game to sit down with and plow through in a couple hours. It may be the weirdest two hours of your day, or even your week, but my gosh, will it be worth it.
With its clever metagaming elements and increasingly deranged narrative, Pony Island is a perfect example of a game that demands to be played in one sitting. It has such a concise, clear progression to its story that playing it in a single session really brings you into its whole “playing a weird old arcade game” setting. If you must pause halfway through for some reason, chances are you’ll be thinking about it until you can get back to it. Only when you’ve completed it can you truly be free.
Clocking in as the shortest game on this list, completing Radiator 2 in one session shouldn’t be much trouble at all. However, the time isn’t much of an issue; it’s that you want to be able to play through it without worrying about being interrupted by parents, friends, and partners. Featuring an array of wacky sex-based minigames, playing Radiator 2 when nobody else is around will save you the trouble of explaining why you’re suggestively massaging a car’s gear shift or shooting condoms at people with a sniper rifle.
This is something of a last-minute addition, because I played Journey for the first time literally an hour or two before submitting this piece. However, I’m so glad I did, because playing through it was one of the most emotional two-hour stretches I’ve ever had. It’s no exaggeration to say that Journey made me laugh, cry, and everything in-between, and it simply wouldn’t have been the same if I had stopped partway through.
The Beginner’s Guide
The Beginner’s Guide is one of the most affecting pieces of media I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Yes, it’s a so-called “walking simulator”, but it’s also a critical examination of creativity, artistry, and the divide between creating for personal satisfaction and creating for an audience. I feel like breaking the game up into several play sessions would completely ruin the cohesion of the experience, and as such, I implore you to set aside 90 minutes and just give it a shot. Then again, maybe set aside a bit longer; if you’re anything like me, you’ll be sitting on the floor for a while afterwards while you contemplate how you really feel about the game’s themes.