It’s a cruel trick of fate that as we get older we have less and less time to dedicate to the important things in life—like gaming.
While spending 100+ hours to complete a complex RPG or dropping countless nights into an MMORPG might’ve been fine as a teenager, it’s a lot harder to justify that kind of playtime when you’ve got family, work, and other commitments to balance.
Sometimes, you want a complete gaming experience without the huge time investment—a video game you can complete in a single weekend or in smaller sessions throughout the week. That’s why we love short video games that are perfectly paced and packed with content.
Here are some of the best short video games that you can complete in under 15 hours, that don’t sacrifice story or quality.
Oxenfree is an unusual video game that’s a bit simplistic on the visual front, but it makes up for that by telling an amazing story.
While visiting a supposedly abandoned island, a group of friends unwittingly open up a rift to a ghostly realm. In order to save their friends, they need to work together to unravel the mysteries of the island and figure out what’s going on.
The story of Oxenfree touches on everything from coming-of-age tales to familial bonds to the mystifying effects of time travel, and it’s all expertly balanced and beautifully paced in a small package.
In under five hours, you can complete a playthrough of Oxenfree and get one of its several endings. Collecting all the collectibles and playing through on New Game Plus mode might take a total of 12 hours.
Oxenfree is a great game to pick up if you love thoughtful indie games with a lot of heart and sci-fi weirdness.
It takes a lot of skill to successfully blend shooting, combat, and stealth in a first-person experience, but Dishonored from Arkane Studios does it better than most.
This is a title that offers a great city to explore. The dystopian city of Dunwall feels alive, teeming with both threats and allies. On top of its amazing cast of voice actors, the game is designed to let you choose exactly how you want to play.
You can rely on the mysterious magical powers gifted to you by the amoral Outsider, fight using only weapons and gadgetry, or even avoid fighting entirely by sneaking around the city.
It’s possible to complete Dishonored in around 13 hours if you don’t care to collect all of the collectibles and discover all of the secrets. If you try to avoid combat and rely more on stealth to complete missions, that will also push the total playtime a bit higher.
Still, even if you cross the 15-hour threshold, Dishonored is a fast-paced story experience that never lingers at any point.
3. Life Is Strange
Here we have another video game with a time travel story, this time focusing on the relationship between Max and her best friend Chloe.
Using Max’s ability to travel back and forth in time, you must uncover a murder that has occurred in her small town and protect it from an approaching storm. Life Is Strange challenges you to decide what’s most important to you and what kind of sacrifice you’re willing to make.
There are five episodes in Life Is Strange, each one offering around two to three hours of gameplay. A complete playthrough takes around 14 hours, though there are multiple outcomes and endings to explore for players who really want to dive into Max’s story.
Life Is Strange is a great game that feels inspired by the TellTale Studios formula but does something bigger and better with it.
2. Until Dawn
Do you like scary movies? If so, Until Dawn is the closest experience you’ll get to actually playing through one. One year after two of their friends disappeared (and presumably died there), a group of friends gather together in a mountainside cabin.
The plot takes inspiration from Evil Dead, Saw, and Halloween, along with a host of other horror movie tropes that shouldn’t work together yet somehow do. It’s a wonderful love letter to the horror genre.
Even getting 100% completion in Until Dawn will only take around nine hours, though you may want to play through multiple times to get the ending you want. Your decisions directly impact who lives and who dies at the end of this horror movie, so be careful what you choose.
1. Untitled Goose Game
Unlike the other games on this list, there’s no deep narrative in Untitled Goose Game. The premise is simple: it’s a beautiful day, you’re a mischievous goose, and your task list is full of reasons to walk around and cause chaos in the lives of local villagers.
You’ll end up doing all kinds of hilariously cruel things like locking people inside cupboards, stealing lunches, brandishing knives, and so much more. Why? Because you have little better to do. Untitled Goose Game is simple, straightforward, and so much fun to play.
Wreaking havoc as a goose will only take you around three hours, but there are additional challenge modes that’ll have you spending a few more hours walking around the village and finding new ways to torment your human cohabitants. You can also play it co-op!