There’s a big emphasis these days on games that take hundreds of hours to get through but not everyone wants that. Some of us just don’t have the time or don’t want to commit so much to getting to the end of one game.
This list is for people like that. I’ve tried to take games form a variety of genres so there’s something for everyone here. So, here’s my list of great games you can beat in 10 hours or less.
This is for fans of classic platforming action and really anyone who looks to jump around and go fast. Sonic Mania harkens back to the old days with beautiful pixel art and short, quick levels that don’t outstay their welcome. There are only 25 levels across 13 zones so you can beat the game in a day or two even if you explore a bit for some chaos emeralds and hidden challenge levels. Since each zone has only 2 levels there is plenty of aesthetic and gameplay variety to keep you entertained throughout. – About 5 hours.
Call of Juarez Gunslinger:
COJ Gunslinger is an absolutely fantastic first person shooter than almost nobody knows about. It flew under most people’s radar and that’s a real shame. Silas Greaves is a bounty hunter in the old west, sitting at a saloon trading his stories for drinks. Each level has Silas narrating his adventures fighting against famous figures like Jesse James and Billy the Kid. Silas tells his stories with style. You’ll be dodging bullets in slow motion at the last minute, blowing up abandoned mines and getting into one on one duels with the best of the best. Sometimes the level layout will even rearrange itself as Silas remembers details of his stories as he’s telling them. Call of Juarez Gunslinger is pure fun from start to finish. The story doesn’t take itself too seriously and there are collectible “nuggets of truth” that give you historical facts about the villains you’ll be facing off against. – About 5 hours.
LISA The Painful RPG:
Now this is a game that truly lives up to its title. LISA tells the tale of an ex martial arts teacher on the search for his daughter. They live in a post apocalyptic wasteland where there are no females. Brad’s baby daughter gets kidnapped and he will stop at nothing to get her back. I really mean that too. The game offers you choices along the way like giving up all your items or cutting your arm off to save someone’s life and they only get worse from there. These choices affect the gameplay too. With one arm missing Brad will be less powerful and have access to a different moveset in battle. LISA’s world is not all doom and gloom though. While everyone has gone quite mad there is a lot of dark humour in the game that stops things from getting too depressing. If you want a satisfying and tragic story that won’t take an age to get through, LISA is the game for you. – About 10 hours.
Mark of the Ninja:
If sneaking around and not being seen is more your thing than shooting or going on big adventures then Mark of The Ninja may appeal to you. It’s a 2D stealth game where you must go from left to right, completing certain objectives along the way without being seen. Mark of the Ninja’s controls are excellent and it’s very easy to get into. At the start you learn about avoiding bright areas and hiding in cover but it doesn’t take long before you unlock other sneaky skills and tools to feel like a master ninja. It’s also got a decent story about revenge. – About 8 hours.
Here’s another one nobody’s heard of. Penarium is pure arcadey action at its best. In it you take on the role of a fat kid called Willie who gets kidnapped by an evil Circus crew. He must perform amazing feats of dexterity and athletics, like dodging missiles and giant bowling balls to keep the crowd entertained and earn his freedom. Each level takes place on a single screen and the action is so fast paced they typically only last a minute or two from start to finish.
That said though it’s going to take more than one attempt to finish each level. At the start they’re fairly easy but the difficulty ramps up fast and your patience will be taken to its limits. Frustrating as it is, it’s impossible to put down since levels start over again almost instantly. Penarium may be the shortest game on this list. I have 3 hours clocked on Steam and that’s including repeated plays and extra content. It’s a perfect time waster and available on iOS and Android as well as Steam. – About 2 hours.
It’s hard to know what genre ECHO fits into. It’s stealth and action and run ‘n’ gun if you want it to be. The big gimmick in ECHO is that you’re exploring a huge palace in the future and it makes ghosts of your character that learn from you. Every so often the light go off and on. When the lights are on the echoes will be observing your actions and trying to kill you. When they’re off you’re safe to do what you want and when they come back on the echoes will act like you did before they went out.
So if you were sneaking a lot they’ll be sneaky and if you were running and gunning then they’ll not hesitate to blast your head off. This gameplay turns everything into a choice and it’s a blast to play. Throughout the game the main character will also have conversations with her AI friend about their pasts and what’s going on in the palace. It all comes together very well. I actually reviewed it so if you want more on it, click here. – About 6 hours.
Finally, one that most people actually know about. Portal is a fantastic little game from Valve. It puts you into the shoes of Chell, a woman with springy legs trapped like a rat in a lab run by a manic AI named GLaDOS. GLaDOS runs the show and will bring you through a series of test chambers to try out your problem solving skills equipped only with a gun capable of creating portals on most floors and walls.
Some of the puzzles are real headscratchers and you won’t be able to cheese your way through without having to stop and think about how to take on the next challenge. Of course, GLaDOS is the real star of the show, cutting into your heart with her sharp and malicious wit. Portal also has a sequel which is just as good in terms of writing and puzzles and also has multiplayer. You can’t go wrong with either of them really. – About 3 hours.
This one is simultaneously the easiest and hardest game on this list. In Papers Please you sit in a customs booth at a border crossing and you must decide who gets in and who doesn’t. It sounds boring but there are a lot of choices to make. You see, you get paid for each successful and correct entry into the country. You need this money to feed your family, pay the heating bills and buy medicine when you eventually run out of money for heat and they all get sick. It should be easy to just check a passport and let someone through but it’s not that simple. At first you only have to check their name and nationality.
Then you need to check their weight and height and a million different nationality stamps and identification papers they bring with them. Even worse if the sympathetic ones. You see they’re all trying to get out of a war torn country that’s gone to the dogs. Most are poor and just want to go somewhere their family can live in peace. It’s unfair to let them in if they haven’t the right papers but how can you turn down a sweet old woman, after her beloved husband has just crossed the border? Let her illegally pass and your pay gets docked, so your family must go hungry for another day. Keep her behind and you’ve just split up a family. Papers Please can be tough to get through but at least it won’t take too long. – About 4 hours.
Here’s a game for people who like getting the shit scared out of them but don’t like doing it for too long. Outlast is a first person horror game where you must explore an abandoned mental hospital and uncover its dark secrets. You’ll play a lot of the game with a camcorder in front of your face as you have no flashlight. Its night vision mode is the only way to see in the dark but be careful you don’t get stuck somewhere with no batteries for it. There is no combat in Outlast, rather if some deranged monstrosity tries to tear you limb from limb you must run and hide. Moments like this create great tension as you’re hiding under a bed watching the fiend wander about checking each nook and cranny, hoping it gets bored before it finds you. Outlast will terrify you from start to finish. – About 5 hours.
So there you have it. Ten games that won’t take you an age to get from start to finish and each one of them is great to boot. I must also give a shout out to walking simulators like Firewatch and Dear Esther. While I don’t particularly enjoy them, lots of people definitely do and they usually only last 3 or 4 hours. Another honourable mention goes to endless games; Roguelikes, Collectable Card Games and such. They’re big time sinks in the long term but they’re also easy to just play for a couple hours at a time.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. What great games have I missed?