Complex PC or iOS Games that play in 90 minute sessions
December 13, 2016 1:58 PM   Subscribe

I really like games that are rich in systems (think strategy games like Civilization, or Rogue-likes), but I usually have a 60-90 minute time to play them, after which it might be several days before I get another opportunity to play. I am looking for complex, interesting games (on PC or iPad) that play out in complete and satisfyingly 90 minute sessions and are not punishingly hard to learn (I am looking at you Dwarf Fortress). My current favorite is FTL, where you win or lose in 90 minutes and where mastery over time is rewarded, but I need something new. Any ideas?
posted by blahblahblah to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (21 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I love Civ and FTL! Okay, have you tried Rogue Legacy? It's a rogue-like game that you can play in whatever time chunks you want. You die a lot in the beginning, so you can easily pick it up and put it down. Papers, Please is another pretty interesting game that I also usually lose within an hour. Okay another - Gods Will Be Watching.
posted by FireFountain at 2:04 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Pixel Dungeon is a pretty traditional (but very well executed) roguelike for iOS.
posted by griphus at 2:08 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Looking through my Steam might also like Offworld Trading Company. It's an economics game, and it's a real-time strategy game where you make a Mars colony and then try to dominate the market there. It's easy to learn...but hard to master...I'm still working it out. Every game I've played has definitely been less than 90 minutes...normally someone wins within 30 minutes to an hour. You can play online with others or against the AI.
posted by FireFountain at 2:16 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

For this I run Master of Orion 2, available in a nice package from Unlike Civ VI, five minutes in you're in a major situation, Klackons showing up.
posted by johngoren at 2:51 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Dungeon of the Endless is systems-rich, and can easily fit into 90 minutes. It's a roguelike rpg/turret defense game.
posted by deadwater at 2:55 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think I love games that are "rich in systems" but sometimes I play ones that seem to be in different categories than the ones you listed, e.g.

- Skill-based competitive multiplayer strategy games. I play a lot of online Dominion (adapted from the physical game) and Prismata (and chess, go, hex, and shogi, you know, the *actually* good games!)

- Puzzle games in the style where you learn a kind of system of rules and then get presented with increasingly elegant and surprising puzzles within the system. Recently, Stephen's Sausage Roll, Tetrobot, Toki Tori, Snakebird, The Witness.

Closer to the category that you already mentioned, I got a lot of hours of enjoyment out of Crypt of the Necrodancer and Invisible Inc.
posted by value of information at 3:09 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Of those I listed above, I know that Crypt of the Necrodancer and Tetrobot are available on iPad.)
posted by value of information at 3:15 PM on December 13, 2016

Best answer: For iOS games check out The Battle of Polytopia which is a Civ-lite game, they have a mode with no time limit that's very fun. Planar Conquest is a PC quality 4x game for iPad. Rome:Total War was just released on iPad and can be paused at any time. Banner Saga 1 and 2 are also on iOS. There are a ton of other great strategy games for iOS, check out the site Pocket Tactics for more.

Holy crap I almost forgot XCom: Enemy Within for iOS!
posted by mattholomew at 3:23 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have been loving The Curious Expedition.

A game of Darkest Dungeon is a longish campaign, but is broken down into nicely self contained blocks of playtime.
posted by St. Sorryass at 3:55 PM on December 13, 2016

Best answer: Desktop Dungeons has a sort of FTL feel in the iteration. It appears to be a roguelike, but really it's more of a puzzle game. There's a free version; play it a couple of times and if you like it, buying the full version is worth it.

Man would I like a game as rich as Civilization but that wasn't a 15+ hour commitment.
posted by Nelson at 3:58 PM on December 13, 2016

Invisible, Inc. is a fun roguelike that will kill you repeatedly in the first 20 minutes before you figure out how to survive the hour and a half.
posted by praemunire at 4:11 PM on December 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Sorry for spamming this post, I just love video games and I keep thinking about this question! So, there's also this game called Convoy which was inspired by FTL. It's basically FTL meets Mad Max. I don't think it's as good as FTL, but you might take a look and see if it looks interesting to you.
posted by FireFountain at 4:46 PM on December 13, 2016

Response by poster: FireFountain - not spamming at all, I appreciate your enthusiasm! I actually backed Convoy on Kickstarter.

I am really excited by these suggestions. Thanks and keep them coming.
posted by blahblahblah at 5:21 PM on December 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm partial to the hex tank games from HexWar for iOS. Turn based, require strategic thinking about resources and timing, two bucks each. Scratches a similar itch for me as FTL. They all have names like "Tank Battle: East Front 1939" (and '40, and '41 ...)
posted by zippy at 6:17 PM on December 13, 2016

Best answer: The Flame in the Flood. I've never managed to live for more than 90 minutes, but I suppose it's *possible*.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:35 PM on December 13, 2016

Best answer: Now having had time to comb library (258 games! who knew?)
These are all PC but I know some of them have iOS versions.

Atom Zombie Smasher, a top-down view of a zombie apocalypse. You go out on missions, trying to evacuate as many civilians as you can before the city is overrun with zeds. You can knock out a good group of missions in 90 minutes but there is an overarching campaign as well.

Would definitely second Invisible Inc. Klei is a fantastic studio.

Same for Desktop Dungeons and Darkest Dungeon (thats a mouthful)

Halfway - A fun 'lite' sci-fi rpg. As I recall, it took me about an hour of play between story elements, ymmv

Quest Run - A roguelike where combat never stops (but if you were to beat some of the later levels it would deffinitly happen in under 90), it looks cartoony and simple and I keep telling myself the game is stupid, but I always come back at some point.

Reus - You're the god of a planet that you tower over, trying to do right by your people, deceptively deep.

Skulls of the Shogun - light-hearted RTS/RPG that has a 'nightmare before christmas' vibe IMO

Stardew Valley - Basically Harvest Moon but way better, TONS of things to do and get into, but you also need to be into the whole farming thing.

Sunless Sea - steampunk/horror/rpg, lots of story, very sluggishly paced, having 1 or 2 weeks between play sessions feels thematic!

Sword of the Stars, The Pit - Turn-based sci-fi roguelike, took some getting used to but the combat system ended up being a real highlight for me.
posted by deadwater at 8:52 PM on December 13, 2016

Check out the escape games The Room and The Room 2. They're perfect for playing in 90 minute bursts, and cleverly challenging. Both are on iOS.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:05 PM on December 13, 2016

If you like Roguelikes what about plain, vanilla Nethack?

It's got a bit of a learning curve to it but it's a fun one as opposed to the "oh god, what the hell Is going on here?" one that Dwarf Fortress has.
posted by Gev at 4:52 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I am excited to try other options too, but I have just started Curious Expedition and I would say that it nails the FTL feel precisely - value in replay, many cool secrets, each "round" takes 20-40 minutes but are self-contained - thanks for this, I wouldn't have discovered it (I originally confused it with Renown Explorers, which is similarly themed but less good).

I also discovered Neon Crome, which is a fun dual stick roguelike shooter for iOS.

And Nethack would have been great to pick up too, if I hadn't played the heck out of it a couple years back.
posted by blahblahblah at 1:52 PM on December 14, 2016

Sooo IF you count multiple sessions within 90 mins...

Binding of Isaac is similar to FTL (rogue-like etc) except that you shot instead of fiddle with systems. There's a lot of depth to it (learning the item interactions etc) even though there is also a lot of randomness. You'll survive for minutes at first but a full run is at least 30mins.

Crusader Kings is not something I've played but it comes highly recommended - similar to Civ as far as I get it.
Also while we're talking 4X - Endless Legend is something I'd really recommend, though may be difficult to split over 90 min sessions

If multiplayer is on the cards, Duelyst? Multiplayer but is super fun and interesting and yes complex - it's sort of like a card game but it's not quite. Free too.

Heroes of the Storm maybe too? I would say Dota is a better game to my mind, but Heroes is kinder to new players and you could rattle through 3 games in 90mins easy.
posted by litleozy at 2:46 PM on December 14, 2016

You do know about dungeon crawl stone soup right?

It's like nerhack but with great UI and all the cruft taken away. DCSS is sort of retro and modern-big new developments in the past few years, but direct lineage to 1997.

Unlike most games, it has an in-game philosophical treatise you can read :)

You can play it online with tile graphics or ascii, as well as install locally on most any computer.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:47 PM on December 15, 2016

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