As I have gotten older, my time to play games has greatly diminished. Once, where I could finish multiple games in a given week, I’m lucky to reach the end of a game every two weeks or even a month. A long-form JRPG? It could take months. The time I used to have for games is now spent on other—arguably—adult things like cooking, cleaning, spending time with my significant other, taking care of our pet, and the various other things that life likes to throw at me from time to time. This is not to say those things are bad, most are quite enjoyable, even cleaning is something I have come to appreciate (Editor’s note: really?!), but what they all result in is one thing: less time to play games.
With less time, there comes a need to be more picky with how you spend what little time you have; games are no exception. So, when it comes time for me to finally choose what I want to play, I need to choose something that is worth the time it’s going to take up.
Take for example Assassins Creed, a game series that has continued to grow in recent years in both scope and design. Specifically, Assassins Creed: Origins and Odyssey contain massive worlds of content that span tens, if not hundreds of hours, if you wanted to play through everything those games have to offer. Of course, the quality of said content throughout all that time is debatable, with much of that content being uninspired or similar, but considered “content” nonetheless. Assassinate this random person, fetch this item, explore this cave, talk to this person—at first, it’s fun—after twenty times it can become a slog; all of it being content that developers spent the time to develop, place, make, construct, and design for the player to enjoy in this vast construct of a world. For gamers like me, who don’t have the time, nor desire to dive into these large worlds of varying quality, or when choosing to do so to focus on only the higher quality portions, these type of games can feel unappealing or contain a vast waste of extra content that will go unused.
Assassin’s Creed isn’t the only offender, of course; other games—open world games, especially—all run into the same issue of varying degrees of having additional lower quality content or other requirements to pad the game out. Taking a quick look at my shelf of games, Persona, Gears of War, and the Uncharted series are all titles that I absolutely adore; but, many times the games in these series were padded with lower quality content for the sake of prolonging the game. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have titles that don’t take up as much time, but are a quality title from start to finish? Games that may not be as long or expansive, but more thoughtful in their design and gameplay.
Thankfully, such games already exist.
Take the most recent incarnation of Ratchet and Clank, a roughly 10-hour adventure that from start to finish feels as though you are in a Pixar movie. Environments are carefully crafted, scenes are purposely created, and characters are built upon in a meaningful way. Every moment of the game feels as though what was placed is there for a reason, and how you must approach each scenario was designed in a way to give a certain experience. The recent remake of Resident Evil 2 also serves as a pristine example of a title that is short but full of quality the whole way through. Here, a title originally released in the ’90s, and remade for modern audiences, only clocks in at about 8 hours. But those eight hours are filled with more quality moments than you would find in games that choose breadth over depth.
You will find an environment that leaves something new to be discovered or revealed as the player continues to delve deeper into the game. You will see a design that doesn’t choose to inflate the game with meaningless content for the sake of making it longer. And you will see a game that considers how everything intertwines in a meaningful way. Titles like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Shadow of the Colossus, and Wolfenstein are just a few of the more modern releases in my collection that manage to hit all these notes—titles big in quality but not in time investment. These are games that have a story to tell and tell it in a concise manner that puts quality over quantity. As the gaming population continues to skew older, we need to see more AAA games embrace the idea that their titles don’t need to be these massive monoliths of content.
Instead, there is much to be said for games that don’t require weeks and months of time investments, but rather can be completed in a timely fashion without sacrificing quality. After all, how will I be able to play more games if each is a 40+ hour adventure?
Leave a comment below on games that you feel were too long and titles that are good examples of high quality and under 20 hours!