The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
When I finished that game, I think my in-game clock said close to 70 hours. Part of that was because I’d often leave the game paused while I browsed the internet, but also partially because that game is chalk full of tedious busy-work between dungeons.
I remember it taking me something in the realm of 6-7 hours to reach the game’s first dungeon. That’s longer than some entire games. I could have played and finished Portal 2, Metal Gear Solid, most Metroid games, or dozens of others in the time it took me to reach TP’s first dungeon.
But the worst example I always like to cite is right after the game’s halfway point, and that’s how you get to the Sky Temple. The game explicitly tells you that’s your next destination, but you have to do some other stuff first.
So at some point your childhood friend, Ilia, suffers trauma and gains amnesia as a result. Link has just left the Temple of Time with an item that, now that he’s in present day, doesn’t work anymore. Somehow, these two things are connected.
To restore Ilia’s memory, you are told to go from Kakariko Village (where she currently resides) back to Hyrule Castle Town, where the doctor who rescued her lives. He apparently has something of hers that may help jog her memory. Now, it’s been a few years, but I think at this point in the game, you’ve never had to go to his office before so once you arrive at Castle Town, you have to find some of his medicine as Wolf Link so you can learn the scent and follow it back to his office.
Once you get there, you learn that Ilia’s keepsake has been stolen by a band of roving skeletons. Where are these skeletons? Are these a specific band of skeletons? He doesn’t say, just that skeletons have the keepsake. I remember heading out in to Hyrule Field and just killing every skeleton I could find one night to no avail, but there’s actually a very specific “zone” between Castle Town and Hyrule Field proper where they spawn (I had to look that up in a FAQ).
Wait until nightfall, kill the skeletons, and out pops the keepsake. Great! You take it back to Ilia in Kakariko Village expecting the job to be done, but it only restores a part of her memory. She still needs help remembering. This is when you’re told about The Hidden Village located in the mountains on the other end of the map. The woman who found Ilia and brought her to Hyrule lives there. Maybe she has something to jog Ilia’s memory.
By this point, at least an hour has passed since the game said you should go to the Sky Temple.
When traveling from Kakariko to Hyrule and back, you probably just used fast travel. What would’ve been minutes on horseback is reduced to a few seconds, and by this point in the game, a good chunk of the field is covered in these fast travel warps. But you’ve never been to the Hidden Village before, and true to its name, it’s HIDDEN. So you’ve gotta ride there and find it. Using some dungeon items, you find a bombable wall leading to an old wild-west-styled town – The Hidden Village.
Despite being “hidden” and clearly unlived in for many years, it is crawling with enemy snipers, initiating one of the game’s few stealth sequences. After killing the dozen or so snipers and clearing the town, a short old woman named Impaz comes out and thanks you for protecting her. She hands over Ilia’s next keepsake: a whistle. Item in tow, you head back to Kakariko Village again and present it to Ilia, who finally remembers everything. The whistle is a present she was going to give to Link, which will allow him to summon his horse from anywhere – even though as I already pointed out, fast travel will get you most places without needing to ride there.
Anyway, mission accomplished!
…Yes? No? No.
There’s still the question of the item you have, from the Temple of Time (The Dominion Rod). With Ilia’s memory restored, you learn that Impaz has a book that may help with that. Since just visiting a place isn’t enough to set it as a fast travel point, you must now ride all the way back to The Hidden Village a second time just so you can pick up the book.
Two hours have passed.
You grab the book from Impaz, but not before some Twilit monsters drop out of the sky. The good news: The Hidden Village is now a fast travel point. The bad: you never, ever, ever need to come back here for any reason whatsoever. Great game design there.
Book secure, you return to Kakariko Village yet again and present it to Shad, a researcher who knows how to decipher the text in order to get your Dominion Rod working again. Long story short (as if that were ever true in this game), the NEXT leg of this quest chain is to ride around Hyrule Field looking for magic Owl statues – and, once again, fast travel is in this situation isn’t especially useful, because most of the statues are located in random places that are nowhere near fast travel points. You just have to keep your eyes peeled from horseback, and a full lap around Hyrule Field in this game can take quite a while.
Three hours have passed.
Dominion Rod finally restored to full power, you return to Shad and use it to reanimate an ancient piece of technology: a giant canon! Surely, now, finally, you can use this canon to blast off to the Sky Temple, right? Wrong! The canon’s BROKEN! You’ve gotta go find someone to repair it!
The repairmen are a pair of circus performers living near Lake Hylia, and after paying them to take a look at your canon, now three and a half hours later or more, you can FINALLY reach the Sky Temple as the game originally instructed.
And that’s just one example of a game with multiple moments like that, where it feels like the only reason it exists in the game is to put hours on the clock. I mean, shit, that game opens with a trading quest to buy a slingshot that is instantly made obsolete.
Twilight Princess is a game that could have been 30 or even 20 hours long and been significantly better for it.
I’ve heard Skyward Sword is even worse about some of this stuff, and that’s definitely the leading reason I’ve never had the urge to play it.