Top 10 Great Video Games Well-Suited for Short Bursts of Play

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There's nothing quite like immersing yourself in a fantastic game. That feeling you get when you set down the controller and peek at the clock to find you've been playing for 12+ hours is completely unmatched. Having copious amounts of time like that in 2015 is becoming increasingly difficult, and the demand for games that are easy to pick up and play in short bursts is staggering.

With so much going on in our daily lives, it can be hard to find more than an hour at a time to play games anymore. Some games — infamously RPG and open world games — make it hard to get the satisfaction of progress without dumping an absurd amount of time into each title.

If you're looking for something to play that will satisfy your gaming fix without taking up more than an hour of your time, then you've come to the right list! One of these games is bound to give you the satisfaction of progress no matter how little time you have to play.

Team Fortress 2

FPS Team Multiplayer Lobby-Based Shooter

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Average Match Length: 20 - 40 minutes

Maximum Match Length: 1 hour

Find It: Website, Steam

Team Fortress 2 is a free-to-play lobby-based first-person shooter for PC (via Steam), PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. You pair together with other players online to form two separate teams, RED (Reliable Excavation & Demolition) and BLU (Builders League United).

Team Fortress 2 is the biggest free-to-play first-person shooter on the PC, and it's no wonder why. There are a plethora of game modes to play in, such as Arena, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, Special Delivery, Territorial Control, and more with plenty of maps to play them all on.

Each match can last up to an hour, but that's about it. Most in-game matches last around half an hour and are good for a quick play session!

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Multiplayer TCG w/ Smart Phone Support

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Andriod, iOS

Average Game Time: 10 minutes

Find It: Website, Google Play, Amazon Apps, App Store

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a free-to-play Trading Card Game (TGC) by Blizzard Entertainment that features simple gameplay in the form of short, turn-based battles with digital collectors cards.

The goal of Hearthstone is simple: drop your enemy's health to zero before they can do the same to you. Use a combination of the cards in your deck and your Hero's abilities to wipe out your opponent and come out victorious.

While Hearthstone may let you pay to get a little bit ahead of the game, there's nothing you can pay for that you can't obtain just by playing the game a bit more. Hearthstone is a fantastic choice to kill 15 minutes, even if all you have with you is your smart phone.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

3DS Village/Life Simulation Game

Platforms: Nintendo 3DS

Average Play Time: 1 hour

Find It: Website

Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the newest and most well-received game of an already classic Nintendo franchise. Not only do you get to move into a town full of animals and customize your home like the previous Animal Crossing games, but you stumble upon the time right when they are in desperate need for a new mayor.

Who better to fill the shoes of mayor than the next person to step off the train (a.k.a. you)? Animal Crossing is a great game that goes at the pace of a peaceful, day-to-day life. There's never a whole lot of things to do in one day, so it's hard to play for much more than an hour, unless you're really good and finding something to do out of nothing.

Pour your heart into your very own town in Animal Crossing: New Leaf and make it anything you can dream of. It's your world, make it what you will.

Limbo

Eerie Puzzle-Platforming Adventure

Platforms: Windows, Max, Linux, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, iOS

Average Play Time: Any

Find It: Website

Limbo is a silently charming game following the journey of a boy through this land of shadows, where everything is open to interpretation. This critically-acclaimed future classic has carved its own unique place in the gaming world, and most certainly deserves a spot on this list.

No moment in this game feels dull, and overcoming each obstacle is incredibly rewarding. Best of all, it doesn't matter where you leave off, the game will pick itself back up from the same place when you decide you want to play again. Huzzah for no back-tracking!

Trine: Enchanted Edition

3-Character Fantasy Action Puzzler

Platforms: Windows, Max, Linux, Wii U, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360

Average Level Time: 30 - 45 minutes

Find It: Website

Trine: Enchanted Edition was a huge upgrade from the original Trine game, and it wasn't just the graphics that got updated either. Trine Enchanted Edition takes Trine 2's engine and puts it into Trine 1, making the game a hundred times more accessible than ever before.

It doesn't matter where in a level you quit the game. You will reappear in the exact spot you left off when you come back. That way, you can play your three character puzzle-platformer without worrying about saving early to leave on time! Happy adventuring!

Borderlands

Treasure-Hunting RPG FPS

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Average Play Time: Any

Find It: Website

Borderlands, despite being an interesting mix of first-person shooter and RPG, is actually really easy to jump into and play for just a short while. No matter what you do - whether you're clearing simple quests, taking on the main mission, or just doing some character grinding - it always feels like you've made progress.

Too much Borderlands in one sitting honestly could make you sick of the game, but it's perfect for short bursts of play where you just want to knock out a couple of objectives and move onto something else.

Crypt of the Necrodancer

Rhythm Rouge-Like Groovy Dungeon Crawler

Platforms: Windows, Max, Linux

Average Zone Length: 12 minutes

Find It: Website

Crypt of the Necrodancer is a unique take on the rogue-like genre that sends you down the Crypt to the beat of a spectacular soundtrack. Not to mention, Crypt of the Necrodancer has the most expertly crafted features ever seen in a rogue-like game.

Each and every character you can play in Necrodancer has their own unique play-style that often drastically changes how you play the game. Each character also has their own background, and the lore behind Crypt of the Necrodancer is the best we've ever seen from the genre. The zones don't take too long to complete, especially if you end up dying a lot, and it has endless hours of fun just waiting to be had (a few lunch breaks at a time).

Mirror's Edge

Cityscape Free-Runner with Action Sprinkled In

Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows Phone, iOS

Average Chapter Length: 25 minutes

Find It: Website

Mirror's Edge is a great platforming action game, but it can get a tad repetitive at times and is best digested in segments rather than a full sitting (the story runs for about 4 hours). Play a chapter or two and put the game down - chances are you'll appreciate it more than if you just blundered through.

Games with shorter campaign lengths often benefit from segmented and short play sessions, so long as the story isn't so complex that you'll forget it all by the next time you want to play again. And Mirror's Edge fits the bill. 

Unreal Tournament 2004

Cult Classic Futuristic FPS

Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Average Match Time: 5 - 30 minutes

Find It: Steam, Website

Despite its age, Unreal Tournament 2004 manages to keep an active playerbase even 11 years after its release. Unreal Tournament 2004 is a first-person shooter that defined the genre years back, and is somehow completely age-defying.

The graphics may look outdated, but the gameplay is just as fun as you'd remember it. Unreal Tournament 2004 is a great example of a game that aged well. Hop in and play for a round or two when you have the time, and see if you can round up some of your friends to play with! UT04 will never get old!

Super Smash Bros. 4 (3DS, Wii U)

Settle it in Smash!

Platforms: Nintendo 3DS, Wii U

Average Match Time: 2 - 6 minutes

Find It: Website, Nintendo eShop (3DS / Wii U)

Super Smash Bros. 4 is among the greatest entries in the Super Smash Bros. franchise, and has finally made itself accessible to gamers on the go with the 3DS release!

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is one of the best 3DS games you can have if you need to cram your playtime into short, less-than-10-minute matches. There is even a unique mode in the 3DS version that mixes up the game a fair bit and takes no more than 8 minutes to complete an entire round! There's nothing like a quick round of Smash.

Of course, there are plenty of other games out there that are good for short sessions. Mario Kart 8 is another Wii U game that features short, fun races, each one lasting around 2 minutes.

The entirety of the rogue-like genre would also be a safe bet. Ziggurat, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, and Rogue Legacy are all great examples, though Isaac is a bit harder to progress in.

What games do you like playing when you're low on time?

We'd love to hear about the games you play when you're pressed for time and want a quick-fix! Make sure to let us know in the comments below.

Published May. 15th 2015

Featured Correspondent

Autumn is a freelance writer that grew up on GameFAQs walkthroughs trying to suss out how to get through her favorite PC and Nintendo games. These days she's a capable game pioneer, mapping out guides and tips so players of all skill levels can join in on the fun.

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