Game news Open worlds are good, but an hour or two of video games are better
I prefer short, concise games that I can finish in a night over large open worlds.
A story about perspective
This article is an opinion piece, it is subjective in nature. The author’s opinion is personal and is not representative of the rest of the editorial staff at JV.
When we enter working life and take on a full-time job by choice or spite, our hobbies must be carefully selected so that they fit best into short evening or weekend hours. And if I come home from a long day at work and waste what little time I have left starting movies without being able to finish them or looking for my next game in vain, I consider the evening wasted. I like to make money better. And in this sense, short games, the ones I can finish in an evening or two, seem to me to be ideal alternatives during the week. It is of course also a matter of very personal taste and questions. The staggering lifespan of a J-RPG has always put me off: considering the possibility that it might be impossible for me to complete the game due to lack of time or lack of desire to continue puts me off in advance. Spending whole weeks on the same game interests me too little.
A free one-hour nugget to discover
If On A Winter’s Night, Four Travelers is a point n’click released last year that follows the journey of four characters that unfolds in the late 1920s. From his luxurious hotel room, Carlo impatiently awaits the arrival of his secret lover Patrick. Lady Winterbourne, newly widowed, receives letters at her mansion from new suitors for her fortune. Dr. Constantly belittled by his colleagues, Jordan Samuels takes refuge in the occult sciences. Finally, tired of her routine, Laylah goes against the orders of her bosses.
Download If On A Winter’s Night, Four Traveler for free on itch.io
The real linear game
After completing Journey in one short evening, I felt that I had not only done something with my evening, but had also added a new title to my library of knowledge and, above all, had discovered a great work. The game is barely two hours long, but its poetry is unusually rich and gave me an out-of-this-world multiplayer experience. On a different note, I loved completing A Short Hike for a short morning. Calmly climbing a lovely bird on top of a cliff while savoring my sandwiches left me with a more indelible memory than my long rides in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey wandering aimlessly.. Too many indicators, interface elements and information that confuse me instead of motivating me; an opinion also shared by Aubin in a post he had dubbed “Zelda BOTW ruined all the other open worlds for me”: “The NPCs are constantly requisitioning us, and like many Ubisoft open-world productions, the biggest fear of the title is that the player will get bored there. So he keeps adding goals to him and asking him“Completing a long task knowing that a dozen other unrelated tasks are waiting behind me is not for me. I’d rather know where I want to go directly.
Come to think of it, most of my favorite games are well under ten hours: Mutazione, What Remains of Edith Finch, Firewatch, Sayonara Wild Hearts. Very often it is narrative games. There is a very present difference between concise narrative games that know how to save unnecessary length, and narrative games that are too rushed. There are many games also short: those who have not been able to exploit their full narrative potential, or who have not managed to treat all their plots correctly. I prefer experiences that get straight to the point to deliver their message. In three and a half hours, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure delivered a good story about ecology by offering a very relaxing adventure. In two and a half hours What’s Left of Edith Finch offered such masterful staging that it will remain etched in the annals. These games are relatively linear. In fact, I could have almost titled this post: “I prefer linear games to big open world games“, the correlation is so quickly made. If the narrative thread is well put together, I have no problem following it conscientiously.
To complete this short post, here is a non-exhaustive list of some short games (-10 hours) that I loved:
- Mutazione, a “mutant soap opera” with fantastic dialogues, where we follow the young Kai who comes to the bedside of Nonno, her sick grandfather, on a very atypical island.
- What Remains of Edith Finch, a little gem of staging that traces the adventures of a cursed family in Washington state.
- Journey, poetic experience of a very ethereal journey of initiation.
- Sayonara Wild Hearts, a kind of absolutely entertaining interactive pop album.
- Solar Ash, a game that oscillates between platforming and exploration, immersing us in a certain universe in the skin of Rei, a “Void Runner” with a rather incredible design
- The Artful Escape, a short musical walk that traces the identity search of a certain Francis Vendetti.
- Here Story, a cool FMV game where you have to navigate through a search engine attached to a criminal file.
- Mirror’s Edge, monument of parkour where you embody the charismatic faith.
- The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, adventure game where you play a detective with strange powers who has gone in search of a missing boy.
- Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, a walking sim where you try to understand what happened to the inhabitants of a deserted city.