What are some Short or "One Sitting" Games You'd Recommend


#1

Hey Yall,

I’ve been playing a lot of short games recently, and Patrick talking on Yesterday’s Podcast (WR205) about fielding recommendations on Twitter for short gaming experiences made me think that our Forum could use a similar recommendation thread. I also think often about something Danielle said a while back, which was (paraphrasing), when she’s bored of games, or in a gaming rut, she hops on Itch and has a browse. I’ve started doing that and it’s a really enriching experience.

So, what do I mean by short games? Well, I’m not too picky about a definition. My gut feeling says a “one-sitting” game or shorter, but that’s subjective. Though I think there’s a blurry line somewhere around the 3.5 Hour Mark, nobody is getting kicked out of the thread for recommending something a little longer.

Here are some of the things I’ve played and enjoyed, in no real order, with the rough amount of time next to it in ()

Midnight Episodes 1+2 & the Librarian by Octavi Navarro (3 games, each one about 25 minutes)
The Zium Museum & The Zium Garden by Project Zium (2 games, each about an hour)
Soft Earth by Jon Sorce (full disclosure I am friends with the author and playtested this) (45 mins)
Heartbound by Pirate Software (demo, 25 mins)
One Night, Hot Springs by npckc (30 mins per playthru)
The Shadows that Run Alongside Our Car by Lox Rain (20 minutes per POV, 2 POVs)
The Raccoon Who Lost Their Shape by Cat Night (1 hr)
Anatomy by Kitty Horrorshow (1 hr)
Thirteen and Half Cats by Nekomatata (10 mins)
Paratopic by Arbitrary Metric (1 hr)
Fish Market and Alien Caseno by Grace Bruxner (each about 20 minutes).
Subsurface + Quarantine Circular by Mike Bithell (each about 2 hrs)
Lisa (dog + girl) by Rubna (I haven’t finished it yet)
Haunted Cities by Kitty Horrorshow (varies)

Haunted Cities Recs

Roads, Monarchy, Pente, Ghost Lake, Gloompuke, Wormclot

Garden by Daniel Linssen (short)
Garden Garden by Concrete Games (short)
One Night, Hot Springs by npckc (30 mins per playthru)
The Shadows that Run Alongside Our Car by Lox Rain (20 minutes per POV, 2 POVs)
The Raccoon Who Lost Their Shape by Cat Night (1 hr)


#2

The Westport Independent

A game based on an abandoned prototype Lucas Pope did. You run a newspaper while the fascist government in power is threatening to shut down freedom of the press, and your goal is to spread the truth while trying not to get stamped out by said government by editing your stories in a particular way. About an hour and a half a sitting.

Masochisia

Huge TWs for this one (abuse, self-harm, how it portrays mental illness, the ending twist that reveals you’ve been playing as a real life serial killer sort of it’s hard to explain and so forth), but it’s a two hour horror adventure game that explores why people do bad things, and more importantly, why people engage with media that portrays horrible acts. Two hours, roughly.

Actual Sunlight

This one is probably fairly well known by now, but I think it’s worth repeating. An autobiography by Will O’Neill about his real life near suicide attempt and struggle with depression. The prose on display is masterclass stuff. I don’t remember the exact time it took me to play through, but it’s pretty short overall.

Also double on One Night, Hot Springs. I played it recently and it’s a really well handled story about a Japanese transwoman going to a hot spring and dealing with how people around her react to her and her own insecurities. It’s really cute and has some great scenes explaining her own trans experience.


#3

Y’all heard about Butterfly Soup?

I dunno that I need to pitch the game but just in case, it’s about a bunch of queer asian girls in Oakland in 2008 finding themselves and discovering their sexuality and it’s really sweet and good and it has a lot of fantastic humour.


#4

I just messed around with Burly Men at Sea over the weekend and really liked it. A single play through is only about 20 minutes, but the game encourages you to play it multiple times to see all the possibilities of your choices. It’s also got a very pretty children’s book aesthetic that I was very much into. If you have PS+, it’s free this month for Vita and PS4.


#5

I imagine quite a few folks here, myself included, experienced this game first on the Save Point streams but in case you missed those:

September 1999 is a pretty straightforward but incredibly atmospheric horror game that only lasts 5 minutes & 30 seconds. It is one of the most convincing attempts at “found footage” I’ve played in games and is easily a favourite of mine this year. Though it’s quite restrained in what it shows the player, if you are particularly squeamish around blood/gore this is probably one to avoid.

I would also second the recommendations for one night, hot springs & Butterfly Soup. Both very short, both very heartwarming & relatable. If you feel starved for queer stories that don’t focus on tragedy/pain, I can’t recommend both of those enough.


#6

A couple things I’ve played come to mind:

Gone Home (maybe obvious, but nobody’s mentioned it yet)
Tacoma (to a lesser degree, it’s a bit meatier)
Donut County (this was a really nice chill experience)
Gorogoa (pretty short, nice to play with a friend who can point out stuff you miss)

There are some other sort of low-key puzzle games on steam that I really enjoyed, not all of them are single sitting games but many of them are only 2-3 sittings and are generally just relaxing and nice:

Art of Gravity
Zenge
SiNKR

Also, Xeodrifter is a one-shot-able metroidvania! Only takes a few hours, and it’s very good!


#7

Recently I enjoyed Old Man’s Journey, a 90 minute adventure that is beautiful to look at with an interesting puzzle mechanic.

I would also recommend Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist, a very amusing 20 minute adventure plus it’s also free!


#8

Good topic for a thread! I feel like I’m forgetting quite a few “mechanics heavy” games, but here are some that spring to mind.

  • Don’t Take it Personally, Babe, It Just Ain’t Your Story (PC) by Christine Love. Maybe 2 hours? Been like seven years since I played it, but I liked how it envisioned a future where privacy has been (mostly?) removed and how people growing up in that system learn to deal with it. Content warning for some sexual relations, but I honestly can’t remember if they were explicit. The game is free, too.
  • BTW, check out her game Digital: A Love Story (PC) too. 1 hour (?), free.
  • Fugue in Void (PC) by Moshe Linke was recently featured by Cameron Kunzelmann in a post here on this site. It’s a great and uncomfortable visual exploration of architecture. 1 hour.
  • I’m glad Butterfly Soup (PC) was already mentioned, it’s fantastic.
  • Got a Light (web browser) by Emma Kidwell is a neat short story. 10 minutes, tops.
  • Florence (IOS, Android) by Mountains is 1 hour long, looks very good and neatly shows how to reinforce a (somewhat saccharine) story through play. Has a couple of scenes that are just super clever.
  • Trackless (PC) by 12 East Games. 2 or 3 hours. You’re a “seeker” in some sci-fi world, trying to find your way an object by getting through a set of trials. A short text parsing adventure!
  • Her Story (PC) by Sam Barlow. Figure out her story by searching through an archive of video clips. Take copious amounts of notes. 2 hours.
  • The Path (PC) by Tale of Tales. Six versions of Little Red Riding Hood. Spooky. Maybe 30 minutes per sister.

#9

I’ve been skewing older for my short-session gaming recently:

I think Super Castlevania 4 is truly the perfect length for a video game. Infinite continues will make sure you’re never in a position where you have to start over in that sitting.

Was pleasantly surprised with beating Onimusha blind in about 4-5 hours (including 3 attempts of the challenge tower), bizarre that a week after I beat it the remaster was announced for PS4! I recommend it for a nice afternoon of game.


#10

Gonna mention Minit here. Folks wrote about it on the site and forums but I still feel like it wasn’t or isn’t being talked enough.

Basically: it’s a Zelda inspired game where you have 60 seconds to get out of your house and attempt to make a progress, be it watering a plant or moving boxes. Since each attempt is only 60 seconds failing rarely feels frustrating since you don’t lose much and you will be suprised how much you can acomplish in one minute.

It’s a real lovely game, I think first playthrough, that was also my 100% run in terms of collectables was somehow over an hour? It doesn’t take long to beat, is what I am saying. Also, it’s on switch.


#11

A lot of the shorter indie games that I’ve enjoyed have already been mentioned here, so I’ll just add my favourite short older games that I enjoy coming back to and beating in one sitting. I find them easy to come back to because they are challenging enough, without getting too frustrating that I just give up halfway through, so no Castlevanias or Mega Men here.

Donkey Kong Country - The main reason I find this game so replayable is that it really rewards moving forward with confidence. A lot of the enemy placement seems to be based around letting you get extra bounces on your jumps to get your moving through the level faster. Takes ~1.5-2 hours for me normally.

Contra 3 - Alright, this game is pretty hard, but once you get the hang of it each playthrough is a blast and only takes about 45 minutes. If it’s your first time, set it to easy, put in the Konami code and have some fun.

Super Metroid - It’s pretty beefy, so “one sitting” only really applies if you’ve already played it and aren’t doing much collecting. I’ve played it a ton so sometimes I get burnt out by the time I hit Maridia, but whatever it’s one of the greats.

As far as short multiplayer games go:

Streets of Rage 2 - I really like the length and difficulty of this game because it ends right before you start to get bored, and at my skill level it’s a 50/50 chance whether or not we are going to see the final boss. It sort of goes without saying that the game looks and sounds great still, too.

River City Ransom - Another good game for a co-op session. It’s got a similar vibe to Yakuza 0, mixing cartoonish street brawls with city exploration/shopping. There’s also a fun meta game you and your partner play when you try to figure out how the stat boosting system works.

And Abzu, Inside and Off-Peak are also all great shorter experiences that came out recently.


#12

Virginia - It has a beautiful tone and aesthetic, and is a merger of Twin Peaks and X-Files in style and content. It also has zero spoken dialogue, yet still manages to convey a lot of subtle emotions. Plus, doesn’t take more than 2 hours to complete, so it can easily be replayed and enjoyed if you want to search for references or details you missed the first time around.


#13

I’ll second Gorogoa which was mentioned above.

I’ll also throw in Superhot. If I remember correctly, each level can range between a few seconds to about a minute in length. But the entire game may take a couple hours for a first time playthrough.


#14

I also loved Butterfly Soup, Donut County, Gone Home and Her Story; all solid picks for a short gaming experience! I would also suggest the following:

Contradiction - Spot the Liar!: This is a fun FMV game that is a little reminiscent of Her Story. You spend your time speaking with actors to find clues and progress the story. There is a similar game called The Shapeshifting Detective, though I have yet to play that one.

Rakuen: A short RPG that is super cute and has a lovely soundtrack and characters.

The Sexy Brutale: An adventure puzzle game where you explore a huge casino and try to thwart a series of murders. It has a great aesthetic and isn’t too difficult.


#15

Marie’s Room is a cool little walking simulator. It’s not perfect, it’s not on the level of your Gone Homes or Stanley Parables, but it’s only 45 minutes or so and is free so I think it’s worth a peek. (I will say, it’s been a while since I played it so I don’t fully remember it but I recall there being a bit of stuff about a maybe abusive relationship? Be prepared, just incase)

Solitune is a point and click sheep herding adventure game. It’s only about 90 minutes, has some nice art and great music, and has some fun and good writing.

My Boyfriend the Necromancer is, to quote the game’s page, " A high-fantasy gothic gay adventure about a young mage with a complicated boyfriend and a bad hangover." It’s a nice little thing with a cool queer story.

Frail Shells is a first person shooter about PTSD and how it’s extremely bad. It isn’t subtle but it is very effective. It’s a cool thing but could be a bit rough for some people.

Gunnel Vision is a fun and silly shooter. It’s hard to describe so just look a the gif at the top of the itch page and you’ll understand what it is.

Hell Bent another shooter, this one much more doom-like. Traverse levels, shoot things, pick up stuff to get to the next level. Simple but good and with a cool art style.

Hot Date is a dating sim where you date a cute lil pug. It’s very silly and funny.

Girl Crush is a great queer visual novel if you don’t mind it getting rather explicit at times.


#16

OHHH!!! Can we talk about Virginia?!?! I wrote like 1000 words on what I thought that game was about when it came out and literally nobody cared. I’m not even sure I remember what forum I posted them on. tl;dr - There’s nothing supernatural going on, just a woman coming to terms with the ramifications of institutionalized racism and sexism. Oh, and a lot of acid trips, hallucinations, and a conspiracy to cover up the FBI’s involvement in the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

To the original question - this doesn’t exactly count as a one-sitting game, but Republique was a game that originally came out as an episodic iOS game, so it’s easy to break it into one-sitting segments. It’s a stealth game in which you play as a… security guard? system engineer? I don’t remember exactly. Point is, you are helping a woman escape from a future-dystopia, high-tech facility, not directly but by controlling cameras and systems to direct her through the areas.


#17

They were already mentioned, but I will also shout out Gorogoa, Paratopic, and the Subsurface (Circular and Quarantine) games.

Here are a few more of my favorites that come to mind.

The Yawgh, an absolutely wonderful adventure game about an approaching storm and how best to prepare. It can be played solo or with up to 4 players and is a great game to play with friends and family that don’t play many games. Each playthrough is roughly 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Please Don’t Touch Anything, a game about being left in a room where you aren’t supposed to touch anything. A fun and humorous thing to poke at for an hour or so.

Thirty Flights of Loving, an awesome first-person heist story that uses some narrative conventions not often used in games, like non-linear storytelling and hard cuts.

Do episodic games count? If so, Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 is pretty strong, too.


#18

I should mention that if anyone has questions about a specific game on that list I posted, ask! I just had a big backlog of stuff and didn’t have the energy to write blurbs about all of them.


#19

Maybe you shouldn’t play a 10 hour game in one sitting, but Until Dawn was a great way to spend a snowed-in day during a blizzard. This is like the perfect horror B-movie game.


#20

Strangely, Battlefield 1 single player campaign is the best one sitting games I’ve played in a while.

I think it succeeds because they made the very polished shooter mechanics they needed for the main multiplayer mode (which I haven’t and probably won’t touch) and didn’t feel like they had to make the campaign overlong to justify itself. It also has some surprisingly decent stealth systems they added just for the campaign.

The single player is divided up into separate stories that can be played in any order (or skipped if you aren’t feeling it) and, while the story isn’t amazing, I enjoy the implication that several of the characters are telling their own stories and are probably extremely unreliable narrators.