There is no better way to unwind after a day of hard work than to fire up a game and get lost in its world. And while there are plenty of games that have sprawling open worlds with rich stories that keep you hooked for dozens of hours, these games require some long-term time commitment. But there are times when you would just want to have a great experience without having to commit a lot of time to it. Something that you could play in a couple of sittings and be done with. The type of games that still leave a lasting impression despite their shorter runtime. If you feel so, then this list is just for you. Here are some of my favourite short, but great games that you could probably finish over a weekend. Before we get to the list though, I do want to acknowledge that there are dozens of such games around and the list may not contain some notable titles. It could simply mean that the games on this list may have had an edge due to the runtime or the impactful story. Or simply that I haven’t played them yet. The below, however, have been played, enjoyed and cherished, and come highly recommended. So here we go.
I first experienced Portal thanks to my love for the half-life series. Portal was bundled with Half-Life and Team Fortress in the Orange box. Little did I know that the title that I didn’t care about during purchase would end up being one of the best games I have ever played. Featuring one of the best antagonists in videogame history in the form of AI GLaDOS, Portal was a puzzle game that amazed me through and through before amazing me again with a full-length sequel. Portal is one of the rare gems that need to be experienced if you haven’t still and it’s run time is ideal for a weekend playthrough, provided you have adequate puzzle solving skills.
Made by one of my favourite developers of all time – Ninja Theory, Hellblade – Senua’s Sacrifice is a game that is truly one of kind. The story of the game’s development is just as fascinating as the game itself, which puts you in the shoes of Senua, set in the backdrop of Norse mythology. The amount of love and dedication put into this game is evident in each heart-pounding moment of its gameplay. It features great graphics, superb acting and spectacular 3D binaural sound design all of which only take a back seat when compared to the games central theme of mental illness. The game does a fantastic job of exploring heavy and sensitive issues like Psychosis. Senua’s Sacrifice is a sincerely and lovingly crafted game that should not be missed. And yes, it can be completed somewhere in the vicinity of around 9 hours.
Farcry 3 was by far the best in the series and is still one of my favourites in the series. But it’s short but excellent spinoff Blood Dragon is one that will always have a special place. This game is a love letter to fans of old 80’s sci-fi action movies. Neon soaked environments – Check. A protagonist with bionic eyes and prosthetics – Check. 80’s action movie cheese – Check. Pulsating soundtrack – Check. Ridiculously cringe-worthy one-liners – Check. This game had it all. All of this wrapped into the great fluid Farcry formula. This game did not make any sense, and it was all the more fun because of it. And did I say it has dragons that shoot Lazers out of their friggin eyes?
Moving from the utterly non-sensical to utterly spell-binding, we look at Brothers – A tale of two sons. This game tells the story of two brothers who embark on a journey in order to save their dying father. Made by the infamous Josef “F*ck the Oscars” Fares, the game definitely is unique in the way it plays, like the man himself. You control both brothers at the same time, each dedicated to one of the two analogue sticks of your controller. This caters to some interesting gameplay mechanics and puzzles. The story is something that will leave you thinking about it for days after you’ve completed the game. Brothers – A Tale of two sons is a gem of a game that shouldn’t be missed.
A lot can be said about Inside. But there is also ten folds more that is open to interpretation. The stellar follow-up to the equally excellent Limbo, Inside plays like a 2D platformer, except that it is so much more than meets the eye. From the heavy themes it dwells into, to the often well-designed puzzles, there is always something that keeps you awestruck here. There will be moments that will have you scratching the head and in the best way possible. Inside is a short but effective burst of visual storytelling that will keep you hooked from start to end.
And let’s not forget this gem. The one that turned Call of Duty into the Juggernaut it is today and arguably one of the best campaigns in a military shooter ever. Call of Duty 4 – Modern Warfare’s campaign/story mode is a must play even you are remotely interested in first-person shooters.