I'm looking for a longish video games to sink my teeth into.
June 26, 2021 2:14 PM   Subscribe

I find it nice to have a video game where I can solve interesting problems that don't actually matter as a way to relax, but I don't have one right now so I'm looking for more.

I'm looking for games I can play alone. Online with other people in the world is okay as long as it can be played without much/any required interaction with other people or depending on them for help.

I'm looking for games with defined goals that I can try to achieve. It's often difficult for me to find motivation in games that are open world sandbox set your own goals kind of games.

I'm looking for games that remain interesting and novel toward the endgame, and don't devolve into grinding a lot of the same content over and over again (e.g. daily quests, raids, etc.).

I have these systems: PC, Mac, Switch, Wii U, and iPhone.

Here are some games I've played:

* Breath of the Wild
* Most/all the other Zelda games
* Subnautica
* Outer Wilds - Probably the best journal approach I've ever seen for keeping track of what you've seen and giving you hints about what to next if you get stuck without just telling you what to do in a really obvious way.
* Portal 1+2
* Slay the Spire - Was fun for a few rounds but then started seeming repetitive quite quickly.
* Into the Breach - Was fun for a few rounds but then started seeming repetitive quite quickly.
* Kerbal Space Program - Spent ~100 hours over a few play throughs before it started feeling too open-worldy and I lost motivation to set new goals and explore further.
* Factorio - Spent a few hundred hours between the base game + mods before it started feeling too much like solving minor variations on the same problem over and over again.
* The Witness
* Genshin Impact - I enjoyed this for a bit (and found the surface level simplicity but deeper complexity of the combat system interesting) but definitely fails the not-grindy criteria between daily quests, earning primogems, and doing dungeons for better items, etc.
* Endless Sky - Was fun to play through once (especially as a fan of EV: Nova as a kid) but at least last I played there was only one major story line implemented and on replay you understand how to take advantage of the game to get better ships/items/etc much more quickly.
* Super Mario Odyssey - I lost interest and stopped playing partway (1/3-1/2?) into the game as I got bored of hunting moons and there wasn't really enough novelty between worlds to keep me playing.
* Child of Light - Still one of the most beautiful games I've played when you consider art + story together.

Please let me know if you have any ideas.
posted by unus sum to Computers & Internet (47 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

Portal 2!

Tha Talos Principle (though a bit repetitive)
posted by googly at 2:27 PM on June 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I’ll be watching this thread for recs as well! I have really enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed series. There can be a bit of grinding, but once you get the economy moving you can skip a lot of that and only go after what you need. I also gravitate towards games like these because they feature “slow” weapons and combat moves I can learn. As a preference I never play online and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. Now I want to go throw in part 3 and play that Boston Tea Party mission….
posted by secrethandshake at 2:36 PM on June 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nier Automata? More linear than some of the others you mentioned, but I like it and it seems like we have similar taste.
posted by supercres at 2:40 PM on June 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Civilization. I am partial to Civ4, Beyond the Sword but some people like Civ V and VI. Your other games seem more first-person-y and this isn't but I have maybe 4000 hours over the last two decades as I keep coming back to it.
posted by procrastination at 2:45 PM on June 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

posted by glaucon at 2:51 PM on June 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Horizon Zero Dawn is available on PC now and really great. Main linear quest but also lots of side quests.
posted by february at 3:02 PM on June 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I just found Ori and the will of the wisps. It's gorgeous and fun. There outs a predecessor - Ori and the blind forest. I haven't started that, so can't vouch for it.
posted by pyro979 at 3:03 PM on June 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle on the Switch.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 3:03 PM on June 26, 2021

Not sure if Hardspace Shipbreaker is on your radar. You play a "shipbreaker" trying to take apart salvaged ships to recycle the contents, without killing yourself (and there are lots of ways of doing so). It *CAN* get a bit repetitive, but each ship is supposed to be a little different and random, and as you advance you rank and get better equipment the ships get progressively more dangerous as well. It's by BBI, the same folks who did Homeworld, and right now technically it's still in early access, and 0.5 version just dropped.
posted by kschang at 3:07 PM on June 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Do you like RPGs or are they too grindy? If you do like them, Trails games such as Trails of Cold Steel has a lot of games to play. (On preview: seconding the Mario Rabbids!)

On Playstation: The Yakuza series (especially Yakuza 0, content warning in general), the Tales games (like Tales of Xillia), and Persona 5.
posted by past unusual at 3:08 PM on June 26, 2021

Unheard: you are being interviewed and asked to solve a bunch of audio puzzles... After a crime had been committed, the police have audio recordings of EVERY room, and you can follow characters around and listen to what are they telling each other. And there are usually 6-10 characters moving around, each with their own agendas. Who did the crime, and what was the motivation? The game comes with a couple of cases, and there's a free DLC that adds one or two more. There is a bit of a twist at the end, which I won't spoil.
posted by kschang at 3:11 PM on June 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Trailmaker is both open world AND goal oriented. I know, weird. The main quest is basically your ship suffered a major breakdown but you managed to land safely on a planet. You have a few components which can you assemble into some basic vehicles, which you can then use, with some modifications, into more advanced vehicles, from land speeders, to fast ships, to amphibians, to airplanes, even helicopters. There are also hovercrafts and more. However, the advanced vehicles require you to recover "parts" from all over the area, which will require a bit of ingenuity, some clever modifications of the vehicles, and some deft piloting, as some of the parts are on floating islands hundreds of meters in the sky, while others are deep in the caves in the ocean. Fortunately you simply respawn if you "die". Once you find enough parts, you can build a rocket and get off the planet. And that will take a while.

And that's just the main quest. Other quests that are a bit more competitive would be the "rally" where you build a vehicle that can survive the journey, but still achieve good speed. There are other events as well.
posted by kschang at 3:17 PM on June 26, 2021

Nthing the Portal games. Also any of the Myst games. A sidesroller called Limbo.
posted by jtexman1 at 3:21 PM on June 26, 2021

* Subnautica

Subnautica Below Zero.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 3:21 PM on June 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I loved hard space but it gave me motion sickness they I don't usually get from games. It's great though.

The other game I'd mention is the Witcher 3. It's really good.
posted by Carillon at 3:21 PM on June 26, 2021

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker on Switch
posted by porn in the woods at 5:40 PM on June 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Return of the Obra Dinn is not what i’d call longish, but you can play it by yourself.
posted by Hypatia at 6:09 PM on June 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you everybody, there are some great suggestions here I’m excited to try.
posted by unus sum at 7:32 PM on June 26, 2021

I really enjoyed Gravity Ghost. No score, no timer, but a structure of puzzles you have to solve to learn about the ghost’s mysterious past. Beautiful graphics and dreamy music. It’s on Steam.
posted by Pallas Athena at 9:52 PM on June 26, 2021

Looking at your list, I'm sure you'd enjoy Spiritfarer - it has a great art style and story, is relaxing and the collections don't feel grindy.

It's perhaps not as long as you're looking for (Steam shows my play time of ~45 hours), but it's worth it nevertheless.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 10:12 PM on June 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

I've loved The Long Dark for this kind of experience. It's a survival game, which is not usually my jam, but it's incredibly atmospheric and there's an excellent story mode that makes it much less of a objectiveless open world while still letting you do your own thing if you want. You can also adjust a TON of the difficulty features to get the vibe you want.

There's also Red Dead Redemption 2. I started a new game ages ago, played it until I reached Chapter 2, and have since just...stayed there, spending dozens of hours hunting legendary animals and finding treasures and generally having an awesome time while ignoring all the story-developing missions without consequence.
posted by ZaphodB at 10:32 PM on June 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Hypnospace Outlaw?

Seconding Horizon Zero Dawn - it's system for keeping track of objectives etc. is good even though it's more of an action/RPG than a puzzle game.

Dishonoured and the sequels/DLC can also be played multiple ways but have defined missions and goals.

Good question - looking forward to checking out some of the answers too :)
posted by sedimentary_deer at 12:34 AM on June 27, 2021

Some suggestions:
  • What the Golf
  • Lair of the Clockwork God
  • Rime
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • Carrion
  • Gris
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail
  • Later Alligator
  • Shovel Knight
  • Return of the Obra Dinn
  • There Is No Game: Wrong Dimension

posted by Aleyn at 1:04 AM on June 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

It seems like you enjoy puzzle games - have you tried Fez? It was just released on Switch.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:26 AM on June 27, 2021

Baba Is You -- may not fit your definition of "longish" depending on how good you are at its puzzles. It's very charming and really taxes my brain.

Possibly Zachtronics puzzle games? Opus Magnum is a good starting point.

Subnautica: Below Zero (also mentioned above) is not as amazing as the first one, I think, but still very satisfying and would be worth grabbing, I think.
posted by curious nu at 7:26 AM on June 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you enjoyed Portal 1 and 2 you should check out Portal Stories: Mel. It's not quite as polished as the main games but it's still impressively good, and the puzzles will take you a while.

And neither of these are incredibly long, but have you tried any DoubleFine games? The original Psychonauts definitely fits the bill in terms of not getting boring. (it's also just fantastic) I can't speak for the sequel since it comes out in August, but I'm assuming that will be good too. Brutal Legend is also really fun, although the combat is a mix of 3d brawler and RTS. There is definitely some same-y content but the upgrades aren't the main point of the game and the world is a blast to explore.

Maybe some stealth games? I went back and replayed the original Thief (Gold version) recently and it was better than I remembered it from the first time around. If you go for no kills or no alerts it can be quite challenging/take a while.
posted by ropeladder at 8:12 AM on June 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Uncharted. Good storyline, lots of mystery, ancient puzzles, action and adventure. Like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
posted by Enid Lareg at 8:34 AM on June 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Disco Elysium. Very unusual, original game. The basic plot is murder investigation but that's just the core. There are stats and skill checks that are very inventive and artfully handled. There are enormous conversation trees that are actually interesting and if you get the "Final Cut" edition, it's all voice acted. Also it has one of the best NPC companions of all time.

It's 20 or 30 hours to complete but for plot and character reasons you can't do every thing on a single play through -- so it's worth a couple plays.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:49 AM on June 27, 2021 [7 favorites]

Maybe Sunless Skies and Sunless Sea, though might be a mixed bag whether they are seen as too open or not. I have often find it easy to find a goal in them, but will admit not everyone might. Great stories to explore in them though!
posted by Martijn at 9:54 AM on June 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Heaven's Vault. Puzzly language-driven point-n-click adventure with a complex story engine that gives you different variants on the plot each time you play through.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 10:35 AM on June 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

Two that come in mind in the vein of short self-contained stories would be Tacoma and The Return of the Obra Dinn. If you want a very light exploration game try A Short Hike.
posted by ckoerner at 12:30 PM on June 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I played and really really enjoyed the Nancy Drew games early in the pandemic. I only have a Mac so I could only play the ones that were available for that system but there are loads on Steam for PC. They really reminded me of old school adventure games with world exploring and putting together clues to solve the instalment's mystery. I strongly considered buying a PC just so I could play more of them.
posted by urbanlenny at 3:43 PM on June 27, 2021

I really enjoyed both Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Original Sin II. I play cooperatively with a friend, so those are the only two of the series I have tried, but there is a whole series of Divinity games, some single player and some with the option for multi-player.

They are definitely a lot of running around completing quests, but there is also a story, character development, puzzles and the opportunity to make some interesting moral choices that have consequences for how the game develops.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:36 PM on June 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I loved Portal 1&2, and Gorogoa. Gorogoa was a short, beautiful puzzle game that was super enjoyable and relaxing, and I haven't found anything like it.
posted by koolaidnovel at 4:57 PM on June 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

I like playing RPG's with trainers (aka cheats), specifically I enjoyed Mass Effect 3. The sci-fi music is calming and with cheats you can skip over/ignore the parts that put your characters life in danger. If you use ALOT it unlocks a bunch of high quality textures so it doesn't feel so dated.
posted by geoff. at 5:15 PM on June 27, 2021

If you liked the Portal games, do yourself a favor and check out Superliminal.

It's not long at all (there's speedruns that last less than an hour) but it is has a cool concept and is beautifully executed.

Also another vote for Talos Project, already mentioned upthread.
posted by each day we work at 9:16 PM on June 27, 2021

I agree with curious nu, I think opus magnum might be a great game for you.
posted by Sterros at 1:09 AM on June 28, 2021

A few months ago I was surprisingly pulled into Days Gone (PS4, PC). The story is compelling and went in directions I didn't expect all the way until the end. Now, you may see that it's about zombies, which yes it is, but it's not really survival horror the way that a Resident Evil game would be. The zombies kick off the plot and you do have to shoot them when you run into them in the open world, but the game is really about the people left behind and how they cope with the fall of society. I'm not a zombie game guy at all but I loved this. My podcast pal and I just did an episode about it, but be warned that there are spoilers for the story.
posted by Servo5678 at 4:52 AM on June 28, 2021

Seconding Disco Elysium, best game I've played in the last 10 years alongside Outer Wilds. It's a beautiful thing.
posted by invisible_al at 5:18 PM on June 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Satisfactory is good if you like factory building type games.
posted by ljesse at 8:10 PM on June 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Immortals: Fenyx Rising is a 90% accurate clone of Breath of the Wild. I've been playing through for the last couple weeks and it's pretty great :)

A little bit more grind-y, but not too much so.
posted by katrielalex at 6:54 AM on June 29, 2021

I liked Hue for this. Lots of puzzles, pretty music, decent story.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:21 AM on June 29, 2021

posted by JHarris at 6:33 PM on June 29, 2021


Miitopia will keep you going for a while, and is a nice game to play a bit of at a time, it almost encourages you to put it down after every few expeditions and come back later, but you don't ever have to. It is not very challenging, but all the characters in it are ones you make in the Mii Creator, which can be tremendously fun, especially if you have a good collection of celebrity look-alikes (and you can use any amiibo to copy them from your Wii U, although one at a time).

The SNES Nintendo Online app on Switch has Mario's Picross, which has a whole bunch of puzzles of escalating difficulty.

Hyrule Legends has a VAST amount of content in it, a lot of it feels kind of the same after a while, but there's still well over a thousand levels to play through if you're willing to try to complete all the adventure mode maps, and eventually you get to the place where you can almost play automatically, if that's something you find appealing.

I don't know how you feel about GTA clones, but Lego City Undercover is a nice G-rated version of that kind of thing. After you finish the main story though there's still a lot of undirectioned stuff to do, which might not be to your liking.
posted by JHarris at 6:48 PM on June 29, 2021

+1 for The long dark, best game in its class. Very nice atmosphere, especially if you play it in winter with a snow storm howling outside your window ;)

Story generators:
Rimworld: Colony builder, help your group of survivors escape the world the crash landed on.

Crusader Kings III: You are the head of an noble family during the Middle Ages. Huge sand box, check attachments and/or wiki for fun goals.

Europa Universalis IV: You are the leader of a country starting in 1444. Huge sand box, check attachments and/or wiki for fun goals.

Railway Empire: If you liked the train aspect of factorio you'll like this one. It is all about building train tracks and moving cargo.

Frostpunk: Colony builder with very good atmosphere, set in a steampunk are during a ice age.
posted by skaggig at 9:17 AM on July 1, 2021

Dyson Sphere Programme seems to fit in well with your list of enjoyed games.
It's quite factorio-esque but the end game feels like it might have more of a goal to it.

I have recently really enjoyed Valheim, which has that subnautica-like survival and advancement feel with a lot of exploring thrown in, but might end up being a bit too unguided / open worldy.
Possibly the same with Raft.
Both of these are very good with a group, but can be played alone also. Valheim in particular could work well with some interaction but broadly independently (our playthrough ended up with us all heading out into the world to build our own castles.

Others have mentioned Disco Elysium and I would also recommend it. It's weird and fun and in places extremely emotional. (legit made me cry at one point....)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:07 AM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you liked breath of the wild, the assassin's Creed game I'd recommend you start with is 4, Black flag. It's great! Doesn't get recommended enough. There's sea shanties and satisfying ship-to-ship combat and while it's not perfect, it's pretty dang good and fun.

+1 for Dyson sphere program. It's very factorio-y but different enough for at least an 80 hour playthrough!

It's controversial, but death stranding is a fascinating "gaming experience". The game itself is more of a long story, but it's not a bad one. I'd say playing is maybe half cutscenes, half tutorial, and 5% gameplay, but somehow the story and setting and weird mechanics are interesting enough where it's good.

+++1 for the Talos principal and expansion, one of my favorite games, far superior to portal in story and gameplay (in my opinion).

If you liked factorio, you'll probably like both prison architect and rimworld. They are surprisingly similar. Prison architect is much more "simulation" with all workers very autonomous, and it's much more focused on building, well, a well functioning prison. Rimworld makes you care a lot more about each worker's strengths and weaknesses and assigning each one to particular tasks. Rimworld is generally recommended as the "better" game, because it has an AI difficulty setting that dynamically shifts difficulty based on how you are doing in a particularly elegant way to make the gameplay more memorable and fun. But, I actually played more prison architect. After games like factorio, I found rimworld to be a little frustratingly fiddly, while prison architect, if something goes wrong you can just hit the "buy identical guard" button 10 times.
posted by bbqturtle at 4:53 AM on July 26, 2021

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