It’s a holiday here in Canada and in some States, which means a short week. After the open world game topic we had last week, I thought it’d be fun to see the other side of the coin: short games. 

What about a good, short game really resonates with you? Is it a compact yet robust experience? Is it the knowledge that you can sit down and playthrough in one or two short sessions? Or is it something else entirely?

Friday, 10:26 am – Ricky

Howdy folks! I’m back. It’s been a long short week, which is usually the case as we try to shove 5 days worth of work into 4. Verrryyyy relaxing…

I think we’re all on the same page. The number of hours of entertainment can be irrelevant if the experience is great. If a short game is shit, then it’s same issue as when a long game is shit – you feel like you’ve been cheated, regardless of the cost of game. A bad short game could cut corners, or miss explaining important parts of the story or gameplay mechanics. “Good” and “bad” are of course subjective – look at how wrong this guy is, calling Bioshock Infinite the worst game of this generation – but I think we can all agree that there are certain elements that make up good games, and when those same elements are missing, it’s possible for a game to be bad.

Now I’m rambling…

I finished GTA V this week! It was a good ending, and I still have a lot left to do in the single player game, but I’ve already moved on to To the Moon as planned. I was only able to squeeze in a quick session, but expect to get more time with it this week and next.

More delays hit the PS4 this week – we already heard about Watch Dogs, but now Drive Club will be delayed. Instead, PS+ customers will get a free copy of the PSN game Contrast at launch. It’s a puzzle game, and the art style looks really slick, and since I won’t be able to buy any new games until January, I’ll definitely be checking it out.

Next week we get Batman: Arkham Origins, and then the 29th gives us Battlefield 4 and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. That’ll round-out October quite nicely… In the spirit of the month, I downloaded Costume Quest, because I don’t get new games and I’ve always wanted to try the quirky costume game from Double Fine. HowLongToBeat has it clocked in at 5 hours, so hopefully I can find some time for a session or 2.

Thursday, 10:21am – Gavin

I think a very common misconception is that that bigger is always better.  Bigger scale, longer story = more hours put into the game, and that’s a great metric for some games, but it’s not the be-all.  Those long games, unless they’re just systemically long or ultimately don’t really have much of a win-state, like Civilization, one of the less disastrous Sim Cities, or Animal Crossing, can often overstay their welcome.  Skyrim is great and exploring the world is wonderful, but those quests got to be mighty monotonous after a while.  Go here, clear out dungeon, get thing, bring back to person, wash, rinse, repeat.

Notwithstanding the quality of the story, I like it when a game realizes that it’s OK to tell a shorter story and not pad it out unnecessarily.  Compact experiences are more preferable to me right now, because I don’t have a ton of gaming time, so I like my gaming to be bite-size.  A few Mario levels here or there, a Portal puzzle or five, that sort of thing.  Actually, Portal is my preferred example of a great short game.  It told a story that was as tight as a drum, and it didn’t run on any longer than it needed to.  It left you wanting more, but didn’t feel as though it didn’t tell its full story.

The other thing I like about a short game is when that game employs a particular mechanic (or set thereof) that could get old after a while, but isn’t old by the time you finish with it.  My examples?  VVVVVV with its gravity inversion, BIT.TRIP.RUNNER with jump/dive/kick, and countless other smaller indie games.  Braid could fit here as well, but I have a particular gripe with Braid – the puzzles aren’t actually that witty and are actually just a pain in the ass to solve.  The story, writing, and art style are more interesting than the game as a whole.

The important caveat to this is that a smaller game needs to be priced appropriately.  Let’s just say I’m glad I was gifted Bulletstorm and didn’t pay the full $60 for it.

Wednesday, 9:03 pm – Albert

I was thinking more about the topic of this week and I remembered that Max Payne 3 was probably a great example of our discussion. It was short, the story was good, and the mechanics were solid. A nice short game and wrapped up quite nicely. There is definitely something satisfying about finishing a game that only takes a couple of sittings because you’re invested and you remember all the story and nuances.  I don’t mind games that end.  I know there are some people out there who buy a game and want it to have lasting power, meaning, they want a game that they can play for months on months. They discredit a game if it only gives you 12 hours of gameplay. I don’t really think that’s a good argument. I mean, if a game can give you a wonderful experience in those 12 hours and not drag it on, then isn’t that great? You wouldn’t watch a movie and say, shit… it only last for 1 hour and 59 minutes! It has no replay value…

I’m rambling.

Anyways – on the gaming front i’m still playing State of Decay. Pretty sure i’m almost done but it’s a pretty fun game. Did I mention I beat Tomb Raider yet? I beat Tomb Raider. It was pretty good. Probably the best adventure/action game i’ve played in a while. It was hard to switch between TLOU, GTA V, Tomb Raider, and State of Decay because they are all 3rd person action games but each one is completely different. I’m not really sure what to play after I play beat State of Decay… give me some suggestions? QUICK! Before I go back to XCOM. Seriously. I’m going back to XCOM soon. I’m also interest in Double Fine’s Spacebase early release on steam…

Tuesday, 7:23 pm – Albert

Something something Tuuuesssdaayyy everybody! I definitely recommend a palette cleanser after GTA V into Last of Us. Having beaten GTA V and TLOU I have to say I was a bit disappointed with GTA’s finish. That’s all i’ll say for now but I definitely want some feedback from you guys on what you thought. Maybe it’s because I rushed through the story in the game but i’m finding it hard for me to go back into GTA V and do something – and there is ALOT of stuff to do. I still have 100 collectibles, all the races, flying missions, hunting, drug trafficking,… I did check off have sex with a prostitute which is on the 100% list. IF you guys have not done this yet, I have to say that they really put a lot of effort into it. I think Ricky is the only one with real life experience in this so i’m interested on his take….

I’m joking, but seriously they put detail into it.  Oh, also vibration.

Short games I would say play Rogue Legacy! That’s a great short game. I would recommend State of Decay too but that’s a much longer game but I wanted to mention it because at the end of the month they are releasing an update! It basically creates a sandbox mode and endless survival. Sounds like a gooooood time!

Other short games i’m not quite certain but if you’re in the mood for mobile: Pocket Trains, Kingdom Rush: Frontiers, and Cook, Serve, Delicious have been taking up most of my commute time. I find that when I want short games I use my mobile but more in depth gaming time I get into PC gaming. It’s weird because i’m finding myself back into XCOM: Enemy Unknown – the time is right as the new expansion is out next month too! HOW GOOD IS LIFE?!

Also if you’re on a desktop and bored — Look at Card Hunter. I am not a big card game player, but this game… is pretty fun. Interesting way they handle monetization. It’s free to play though. Check it out!

Oh yeah, if you were looking forward to Watch Dogs … you are SOL my friend. Comes out Spring 2014.

Monday, 4:51 pm – Ricky

DAMN! Late start today. I’m working on finishing GTA V this week, and might do a palette cleanser before jumping in The Last of Us again. A short game would be perfect, and I was thinking of playing through To the Moon on Gavin’s recommendation. What’s going on with your week?