Games best for playing in short bursts

Given my current day-to-day routine, I find myself not having as much time to play games for much longer than 20-30 minutes per night. Usually this means a couple rounds of Titanfall 2 or a few minutes of Fire Emblem: Heroes.

Sadly this means that I usually put off delving into longer games - say, Dragon Age: Inquisition - because I don’t get much enjoyment from taking 15 minutes to do some crafting.

My question’s a twofer: what are your favorite games that you find lend themselves to being played in short bursts?

and on the flip side, how do you handle not having enough time in a day to get to the requisite depth in longer games?

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Well currently its Puyo Puyo Tetris, especially on the Switch because I can play quick bursts of it regardless of my current setting.

But that seems kinda easy since its a puzzler game of sorts. However, even Breath of the Wild I found works really well in this fashion, because I can give myself a relatively small goal (finish this shrine, climb the top of that mountain, grind for some ancient parts, etc) that will be amusing but still help with the progress of my game.

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You can never go wrong with a Picross game for short bursts. Also the reason why I will always cherish my 3DS.

Heroes of the Storm is a good for quick pickups. Especially when my friends are on. A match generally only lasts 20 minutes and nobody ever gets too upset when you’re terrible at the game.

I also just got Mario Kart 8 on the Switch and its nice to grab it and finish a cup when I take my lunch break.

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Binding of Isaac is super good when played in short bursts, and its even easier to do that now that its on mobile and the Switch. Each run is only around 20 minutes long, and the insane amount of abilities and pickups in the game keep it relatively fresh.

My method of getting more time to play longer games is to sacrifice sleep for it. This is not a particularly healthy method, and I do not endorse it. Im still young and dumb, so it’ll probably catch up to me.


I’m getting older but I’m still dumb. I stayed up until 4am telling myself “Just until I win this war” in Stellaris. It definitely caught up with me.

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I’ve been playing through the F.E.A.R. games during my lunch hour recently, about half an hour at the time, including all the expansions. They’re really good because all the combat encounters are self-contained. You can take them a few faceless mooks at a time, quick save, and come back tomorrow.

If you got a 3DS, my nomination goes toward Pocket Card Jockey, a game that combines the joys of naming and racing horses with the exciting gameplay of Solitaire.

The gameplay video I linked may look a bit hectic and confusing, but once you learn the nuances of the game, it just hooks you. Races are pretty short, lasting maybe 5-10 minutes, depending on how fast you play, and you’re given the opportunity to close your 3DS anytime and then continue the race later.

This game r u i n e d me. Give the demo a try, and if you like it, the demo save data transfers into the main game which is $7.

Yeah, that was one thing I’d heard about Breath of the Wild, too.

Based on that and a few other responses, sounds like a Switch is the way to go… plus it has the flexibility in playing in bed for a few minutes vs. settling in on the couch for a night.

Currently playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Switch games are great to play in bed, all of the tracks are unlocked from the start, and there’s online multiplayer if you’re feeling competitive before you drift (pun intended) off to dreamland.

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I mean I don’t want it to be like Mr. Hyperbole on such things especially when we’re still in early stages of the hardware… but I really did have a moment where I was playing Zelda one day, realized I had to head out for something for a while, then picking up the Switch out of the slot and the game still going on like… “this changes everything”

Especially with a game like Zelda, it makes it so I can still engage and make progress with the game while being aware I can leave the more involved and cinematic stuff for when I get home.

Which is a fantastic feeling, especially with how my life has become in the past couple years.

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Definitely Downwell
It’s perfectly suited for everyday commutes


I finally deleted that gross-ass Skinner box Fire Emblem Heroes. My little games of choice at the moment are Hoplite (I will one day get the Atheist achievement! One day!) and TypeShift. Solitairica wasn’t bad either but I’ve kind of played that one out I think.

On the PC I’ve been getting back into Rogue Legacy which can, in theory, be a reasonably short game if you can put it down. I also just bought the latest variation on Geometry Wars which I like but which is too intense for me to play in bursts longer than 20 minutes or so.

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Any switch game, I’d say- the ease of sleep mode and the variety of games on there easily lead to short bursts.

As for before that, I spent over 300+ hours in Binding of Isaac (both the original flash and the remake), and almost all of those were in plug-in-play sessions.

Obsessed with TumbleSeed. Can usually play for about an hour at a time. It has a steep learning curve, but I can’t get enough!

Nuclear Throne is my favourite game that I have a hard time playing more than 30 minutes of at a time.

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Spelunky is my go-to in these cases.

Solitairica and Hitman / Lara Croft Go are really good games you can pick up and probably be done with in 10-15 minutes. If I only have half an hour, I usually go for a sports game like EA’s NHL or Rocket League. SCS’ brand of truck simulators are also pretty good, although that easily spill over into an hour that you don’t have.

Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn

Picross 3D Round 2 has been that for me ever since it came out. Doing one large puzzle on hard with no errors takes up enough time, but not too much time, that I can play it while waiting somewhere or right before bed.