We often recommend products we like. If you buy anything via links on our site, we may earn a small commission.
Sometimes, you don’t want to sit around and play a video game that will take days or weeks to complete. Maybe you just want to take in an entire story in one sitting, with everything wrapped up by a proper ending in just a few hours.
Modern adventure games are great for this. Most adventure games expect you to dedicate at least a few play sessions to reach the end, but there are some really fantastic adventure games from the past decade that can be beaten in a single afternoon.
Here are some of the best modern adventure games that have short playtimes but are still satisfying and worth the money.
1. The Stanley Parable
The Stanley Parable should take you about two hours to complete, which makes it a perfectly digestible game when all you want to do is interact with an interesting narrative—and in this case, one that’s quite funny.
The game is basically social commentary on the state of video games, all told through the eyes of Stanley. It takes the fourth wall and smashes through it with a wrecking ball. The game is pure comedy gold, and while the gameplay itself isn’t the most exciting, the humor and narrator more than make up for it.
2. Gone Home
Gone Home is one of those games that’s often called a “walking simulator” because you don’t actually do anything other than walking around and exploring a space—in this case, the inside of your family’s home.
Like The Stanley Parable, this will take just about two hours to complete, making it a perfect way to spend an afternoon. While not much longer than an average movie, the interactive nature of the game makes the emotional beats hit hard, and if you don’t feel something by the time you play through Gone Home, you need to check your pulse.
Journey is another game that should take you about two hours to get through, but that’s where the similarities between it and the previous two games end. Whereas the other two games tell their stories through spoken dialog, Journey is completely silent. But don’t let that make you think there’s no story!
The game’s title is spot on for what the game is, since it’s basically just a journey from point A to point B that exposes you to the breathtaking world created by thatgamecompany. The gameplay isn’t too complicated, but there is a bit more to it than some other “walking simulator” games, and there’s even seamless multiplayer that will completely change the experience emotionally.
Overall? It’s a super peaceful yet meaningful adventure.
It’s far too easy to look at Abzû and think, “Oh, it’s underwater Journey.” But don’t! Like Journey, Abzû is silent, beautiful, and features a simple story that hits home hard. But thinking that it’s “just underwater Journey” would lead you to miss out on an incredible experience that’s really its own thing.
The underwater environment works with both the narrative and gameplay to create an experience that isn’t to be missed. It’s incredibly immersive and it’s one of those games that you won’t want to put down once you start. And that’s good, because it’ll only take you about three hours to beat, which makes it perfect for getting sucked into.
5. What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is another adventure game that could be called a “walking simulator.” It’s about three hours long, but it plucks more emotional strings than games that are three or four times longer. Once it gets going (which doesn’t take long), it never lets up.
The game features a bunch of short vignettes that take the player on a journey through the history of cursed family living the woods. When you sit down to play this one, you might want to make sure you have some tissues nearby, because this game will most certainly hit you right in the feels. Hard.
Firewatch is the longest game on this list, clocking in at about four hours. While that might be a long single session of gaming, it most certainly can be completed in one shot (although you may need a bathroom break).
The game is interactive, but only minimally. Things start out with Henry, the player character, beginning a new job as a fire lookout in Shoshone National Forest. He interacts with his supervisor Delilah over a walkie-talkie, and the game progresses from there with a story you won’t want to miss.
Emotions, Emotions, Emotions
If there’s one word to describe these short adventure games, it’d be emotional. Each of these bite-sized experiences will tug on your heartstrings and make you feel in a big way. When you need a brief intermission between huge open-world games, these single-sitting adventure games will serve up what you need.
Feel like an emotional palate cleanser? Check out these hilarious video games!