One- or two-sitting video games?
August 21, 2008 4:17 AM   Subscribe

One- or two-sitting video games?

Recently played Braid, and it was such a memorable experience - not just because it's awesome, but because it basically took place over the course of a couple of afternoons, rather than two months. Felt the same way about Portal, and the Half-Life episodes - the short time span got me way more immersed than usual.

So what are some other truly excellent (preferably Xbox, but PC is okay too) games that can be played through in one or two sittings?
posted by jbickers to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure if this counts, but Civilization 4? It might be more like 3 or 4 sittings to get through a game, but it's definitely not a 80hr per game thing.

One caveat: It's probably the most addicting "just one more turn!" type game I've ever played. Which might mean you get through a game in just one sitting, but it might be because you destroy the last enemy civilization, and look outside and the sun is rising. Whoops!
posted by Grither at 4:50 AM on August 21, 2008

You should be able to get through the Lego Star Wars and Lego Indiana Jones games in a few sittings a piece. That depends on how long you consider a sitting to be and how hardcore of a gamer you are. To put it in perspective, I'm a hardcore-casual gamer (I play like a hardcore gamer, but prefer casual games) and I got 100% completion on Lego Indiana Jones in a week's worth of play a few hours (2-6) at a time.
posted by ChazB at 4:51 AM on August 21, 2008

Oh, and also Call of Duty 4 (though there is a 5 coming out somewhat soonish, I believe) is pretty great single-player, and it doesn't take too long to get through (maybe 5 or 6 short sittings on an easier level of diificulty?) but it's definitely an awesome experience, with great level variety and lots of action.
posted by Grither at 4:51 AM on August 21, 2008

Its excellence is highly debatable - reviews have been all over the damn place - but I found the Too Human demo to be pretty fun, and a single playthrough of the campaign should take about 15 hours.

Not sure how long it actually takes, but I suspect Beautiful Katamari might be a good candidate too.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:53 AM on August 21, 2008

The halo games are decently short, you can get the them in about 3 avg days, 2 time involved days, or one day if you've got nothing to do. Need for speed underground is awesome for like 2 days than you get to the boss and he's incredibly hard and it makes you wanna throw the game against the wall, but the journey getting there is really fun. Other than that I got's nothin, I don't mind involving myself in a game for like a week, you're really missing out on a lot of good stuff if you're looking for short games. Ninja Gaiden is fucking sweet but takes forever, Fable is awesome but yea that's long too. The last two Spider Man games are awesome, not too long but probably at least 3 days (I beat Spider Man 2 in a day during one summer but that was like non stop playing). Definetly don't play Morrowind or Oblivion or pretty much any RPG if you don't want to play for a while.
posted by BrnP84 at 4:53 AM on August 21, 2008

A lot of good freeware PC games have this quality.

Cave Story is the traditional answer, but you've probably played it. Ikachan, the "prequel", is every bit as good.

Cactus's good games fall into this category. His page is , and his better games include the Mondo Medicals series and Psychosomnium.

An Untitled Story is also amazing. It's here: - third on the list.

Yahtzee's games are also great - especially the Chzo Mythos series.
In order:

posted by LSK at 4:54 AM on August 21, 2008

Old-school/classic games are great for this, as are games with an emphasis on multiplayer. Geometry Wars, Pac Man Championship Edition, Bomberman Live, Ikaruga, Rez... XBLA has many, many good games along these lines. But, in just about all these cases, it's the gameplay that's immersive, rather than the story.
posted by box at 4:59 AM on August 21, 2008

Response by poster: But, in just about all these cases, it's the gameplay that's immersive, rather than the story.

Yeah, I realize I wasn't clear on this point ... I guess I'm looking for shorter games with a good story (Braid being a perfect example). I'm already an avid Civ player, BTW.
posted by jbickers at 5:02 AM on August 21, 2008

BioShock is a few afternoons worth of good gaming, even less if you stop at the OH FUCK!* moment.

* Vague for spoilers, but you'll know it when you take a swing at it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:00 AM on August 21, 2008

Jedi Academy is pretty short - approx 10 hours
posted by missmagenta at 6:24 AM on August 21, 2008

If you can beat this in an afternoon, you deserve a gold medal. I can hardly get past the second level, playing with tons and tons of credits and continues. Then again, Ikaruga has a steep learning curve. And I'm terrible at it.

MGS2 Substance should be ridiculously cheap at this point, and you should be able to plow through it in 12 or so hours (MGS1 isn't necessary, but it's also recommended). And while it's got a great story, be ready for boatloads of exposition.

I'm not sure how long each game in the Splinter Cell series is, but it could be worthwhile.

Lost Planet (Xbox 360) had a pretty short campaign, according to this review.
posted by indiewizard at 6:25 AM on August 21, 2008

I recently played Alone in the Dark for the Wii all the way through, which is rare for me. You can probably beat it in 8-10 hours. It's probably gotten terrible reviews, and deserves them (there's a lot wrong with it), but I really liked it.
posted by andrewzipp at 6:35 AM on August 21, 2008

I haven't played it, but Passage (PC, free) is supposed to be great (and very short).
posted by dfan at 6:51 AM on August 21, 2008

Seconding the Lego Star Wars games. Sure you know the story already, but it's really fun to watch it being told without dialog and with all the extra little Lego-based touches. I prefer the original-trilogy one (Eps. IV-VI) to the new-trilogy one. It's probably $20 or less for Xbox by now, and you can get through it in a few afternoons of casual gaming.
posted by xbonesgt at 7:03 AM on August 21, 2008

It's an oldie, but Max Payne fits the bill I think. Story is so involved it's almost more like watching a movie. I think it's the only game where I haven't skipped through the storyline building parts to get to gameplay.
posted by piedmont at 7:21 AM on August 21, 2008

John Woo's Stranglehold. I completed it in about 6-7 hours.

The story is effectively a sequel to Hard Boiled so it's about as far removed from Braid as a game can be (though I guess there is slow motion jumping in both).

Short but enjoyable. Rent rather than buy though there is some replay-value.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:28 AM on August 21, 2008

I recently discovered Monkey Island 2 and it's still as playable as the day it came out. Hilarious, great story, those special kind of "Oh, of course!" puzzles, and I managed to finish it in a few afternoons (I had to use a guide one or two times though. Some parts are challenging.)
posted by naju at 8:35 AM on August 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bionic Commando - it's awesome.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:15 AM on August 21, 2008

@naju While Monkey Islan 2 is great, the original is still king!
posted by Kraki at 9:26 AM on August 21, 2008

Seconding any of the Katamari games. I finish them in 1-2 days, but there's some good replayability with trying to get better scores/times. And the stories, while always silly, are still quite funny.
posted by faunafrailty at 9:29 AM on August 21, 2008

Seiklus! A fine indie platformer, short in length but not in substance. The story is subtle, but it's there, and it's kind of moving.
posted by aparrish at 10:18 AM on August 21, 2008

I'm not sure if you'd like this suggestion, since all of the games you mentioned have great, immersive graphics, but interactive fiction is usually a one-sitting games. The days of multi-day Zork quests are over. Galatea is a personal favourite: extremely short, with about 20 possible endings (which are all very distinct from one another), and a very rich story. Some endings are somewhat similar to Portal.

The first link sends you to the page listing all the winners of the 2007 IF competition. At the bottom, you can choose the competition year you want to view--all the way back to 1995. Play around.

(You'll need an interpreter for these games--I suggest Gargoyle if you're running Windows or Linux.)
posted by flibbertigibbet at 10:30 AM on August 21, 2008

Beyond Good & Evil is my favorite video game of all time and it takes about 10 hours to play through.
posted by shesbookish at 12:15 PM on August 21, 2008

Your taste in games is very much like my taste in games (I *loved* Braid and Portal).

Consider Shadow of the Colossus and Ico, both on the PS2. Both can be completed over the course of a few sittings, not to mention the puzzles and graphics are great, even by today's standards.
posted by Perplexer at 2:45 PM on August 21, 2008

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