24 incredible video games you can finish in one night

Time is short and video games are long. But you'll rattle through these in a night.

Mark Serrels
Mark Serrels is an award-winning Senior Editorial Director focused on all things culture. He covers TV, movies, anime, video games and whatever weird things are happening on the internet. He especially likes to write about the hardships of being a parent in the age of memes, Minecraft and Fortnite. Definitely don't follow him on Twitter.
Mark Serrels
1 of 25 Carol Yepes/ Getty Images

Short video games are the best

When you think "video games" you tend to think of time sinks like Skyrim or Zelda. Maybe even MMOs or competitive online games that require ridiculous hours to stay updated or competitive. 

If you're an adult with a full-time job or (gasp) kids that kind of commitment can feel overwhelming. My response: Play awesome short games I can finish in a night or two. 

Some of my favourite video game experiences have been with short video games. Here's some of the best...

2 of 25 Mobius Digital

Outer Wilds

Outer Wilds is just... insane. A strange sci-fi mystery to be uncovered, Outer Wilds is set in a living breathing solar system that's simultaneously small, but also tremendous in its ambition and execution. 

It's a game packed with jaw-dropping moments that feel organic in a way few games can compete with. I cannot emphasize this enough: play this video game.

A Short Hike
3 of 25 Adam Robinson-Yu

A Short Hike

Does exactly what it says on the tin. A short, beautiful video game that I wish more people would play.

4 of 25


The absolute king of games you can finish in one sitting, Journey is world class. If you haven't played it yet, make it the first game you play on this list. Absolutely incredible from start to finish.

5 of 25 Dennation Games

Hotline Miami

Savage, weird, brutal, original -- Hotline Miami also plays host to one of the coolest video game soundtracks ever compiled, so you can feel stylish as you set about a house full of mobsters with a mask and a samurai sword.

6 of 25 Number None


Braid is smart, unique and -- if you switch your brain on -- can be finished in a single evening. Be warned though, you'll most likely find yourself on YouTube frantically searching for solutions to some of these puzzles.

Portal 2 screenshot
7 of 25 GameSpot


We all know how good Portal is, but here's what we all kinda forget: The original was perfectly concise. If you haven't played it, you can barrel through in a handful of hours. You absolutely should do that.

8 of 25


Not enough people have played Oxenfree. That's a shame. It's got brilliant, not just good-for-a-video-game writing and you could easily get through the game in a single sitting. Pick this one up next time it's on sale.

9 of 25


Firewatch reminds me of Oxenfree because it's well written, but, again, not in that "pretty good for a video game" kinda way. It's just flat-out good and interesting. It's a game about loneliness really, and it's truly insightful all the way through to its false ending. Firewatch rules.

10 of 25


Inside is savage. It's also interesting, thought provoking, atmospheric and seamlessly designed. It also has the best ending of any video game ever. If David Lynch made video games, he might have made Inside. 

11 of 25


Gorogoa is unlike any video game you've ever played. 

It's a puzzle game... I guess. But it's really a game about exploring a strange universe in ways you can't really predict.

Find a way to play this game.

12 of 25 Robot House


Back before its release, we described Rumu as Gone Home crossed with Space Odyssey. That still stands. Rumu is charming, well written and well worth the three or four hours it takes to play through.

13 of 25 Gamespot

What Remains of Edith Finch

Like many of the games on this list, What Remains of Edith Finch is a story-focused, first person game. A must for players who enjoyed games such as Dear Esther or Gone Home (which are also on this list).

14 of 25


From the creators of Inside, comes a sincerely dark exploration of guilt and pure violence. Limbo is a puzzle game in the vein of Braid, but it's also wrapped in a strange allegory for grief. Play it. 

15 of 25

The Stanley Parable

Video games aren't often funny, at least not in the way that The Stanley Parable is funny. This is proper satire, and if you've spent any amount of time playing video games in the last 20 years The Stanley Parable will resonate. 

16 of 25

Dear Esther

Dear Esther was one of the first games referred to (usually negatively) as a "walking simulator". It's essentially a story, played out using a narrator, as you explore a gorgeous-looking island. That's about as reductive as it gets though, Dear Esther is much more than that.

17 of 25


Undertale is a bit like The Stanley Parable. Both are video games about other games or, at the very least, have an element of satire to them. Undertale is amazing, particularly if you've spent any amount of time playing RPGs.

18 of 25 Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

Papers Please

Papers Please has actually grown in relevance since its release in 2013. Considering immigration is a huge, global issue that many are currently wrestling with, there's never been a better time to play and experience this game. 

Gone Home Fulbright
19 of 25 Fulbright Games

Gone Home

Gone Home is the perfect, "play through in one sitting" video game. It's atmospheric, familiar and also strangely heart warming. Gone Home plays with -- and subverts -- horror movie tropes. It's good.

20 of 25 Kojima Productions

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

It's rare that a game with the production values of Ground Zeroes is as short as Ground Zeroes. That's because this game is something of a demo for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. But interestingly some people prefer this one. One reason for that is the brevity -- you can play and finish this game in a matter of two hours -- but there's so much to explore if you have more time than that.

21 of 25

Grow Home

Grow Home is a video game about climbing. That's it? Well, yeah. But it's also the best video game about climbing ever made. With an interesting, completely unique control system and a number of subtle layers and power-ups, Grow Home is one of the best games you've never heard of.

22 of 25


It's a little bit derivative of better games like Journey, but that doesn't mean Abzu isn't worth playing. Especially if you've long dreamed of exploring the depths of the ocean. Abzu is a startlingly beautiful video game.

23 of 25


Before they made Journey, Thatgamecompany released Flower, a unique video game about uh... being a petal and then gather other petals and becoming a flower petal STORM OF RESISTANCE THAT CHANGES THE WORLD.

This is a terrible description of what's actually a perfectly meditative video game experience. Flower is amazing.

24 of 25

Her Story

In Her Story you investigate a series of old interrogation tapes in an attempt to uncover a bizarre mystery. By searching and watching video clips you slowly uncover the truth. You'll spend a couple of hours playing this, then five hours on Google afterwards, trying to figure exactly what the hell you just watched.

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And now, for people who hate reading, here's a video.

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