When is a video game too long?

I am not one to usually moan about a video game being too long but in some cases, I make an exception. Let's take a look at three different games that would benefit from being shorter.

I am not one to usually moan about a video game being too long but in some cases, I make an exception. Let's take a look at three different games that would benefit from being shorter.

Video games gain praise for their length. The longer the experience lasts, the more value you are getting for your money right? What about when the length of a game lessens the experience? There are certainly a number of video games where this is the case. So, when is a video game too long? There are some different reasons as to why a video game could be too long. We are going to look at three different examples of games which should be shorter than they are. 

The game where the plot ends before it does

The first one we are going to look at is the game that continues despite having nothing left to offer the player. The game I am going to pick for this instance is Bioshock.

Bioshock is an outstanding game in almost every way. The problem I always have with it is that it needlessly continues while it could be two or so hours shorter. Right up until almost the  end of the game, I have absolutely no complaints. I love everything that Bioshock has to offer.

Once the entire twist of the storyline is revealed to the player, the game continues for quite some time after. During this period, the player has to navigate through several levels including fetching various items which makes it drag on.

Once the player knows the twist, there is nothing new left to experience. The gameplay doesn’t change or escalate and at this point starts to become monotonous. Linear video games that rely on plot to keep the players invested must maintain the intrigue until the end. At the very least, one level before the end.

One of the primary things that kept me invested in playing Bioshock was the plot. Finding out what happened to Rapture along with who the protagonist is. Once the mystery is solved, the game should end within two levels. It resulted in the last few levels becoming extremely repetitive and boring.

The RPG that is bigger than it needs to be

RPGs are known for their massive worlds full of lore, quests, and adventure. In most cases the bigger an RPG is, the better it is. From time to time, however, you occasionally come across an RPG that is bigger than it needs to be.

When this happens, you have an experience that gives the players a ton of things to do such as quests and places to go that are needless. Fallout 2 is a game that I very much felt was bigger than it needed to be. The first Fallout game was the perfect length for what the story and the world had to offer.

Fallout 2 however, is a far bigger game with a lot more quests and locations and it suffers for it. A lot of the places the player visits in Fallout 2 do not add to the overall lore of the game. They are nothing more than side quests that are put there just for something to do or to gain much-needed experience.

Overall, Fallout 2 is at least two times bigger and longer than its predecessor. Due to its increased difficulty, the player is forced to take part in side quests for the sake of gaining experience points to level up unless they want to have an excruciating time in combat.

Because of there being so much to do in Fallout 2, the player often goes long periods of time without plot progression. This was not an issue with the first game. It truly is a prime example of a game that would benefit from being shorter than it is.

The horror game that loses its horror

The horror genre is one of my favorites to dive into once in awhile to get the old heart rate going. Horror games are one of those that genuinely need to be short; six to eight hours is more than long enough. Anything further than that would be pushing it. In some cases, even that length is too much.

The reason for this is that a horror game needs to continue scaring the player if it is to apply horror successfully. There is only so much you can do with one horror idea before it becomes stale and predictable. If a horror game becomes predictable, it loses the reason the player is playing it in the first place. It is no longer scary. 

Layers of Fear is one such game which has this problem. It is without a doubt a good game, but it didn’t fulfill its role of being a horror game. Even with it only taking me approximately three hours to complete, Layers of Fear lost all appeal to me long before that.

The reason for this is due to the horror elements becoming predictable. For all of its excellent atmosphere and ambiance, it loses everything due to knowing exactly when the game is going to attempt to make you jump. It would indeed be a very short game if it’s playtime was to be reduced by half, particularly for its price.

Never the less, its scares would not have outstayed their welcome like they did at a reduced length. It is also a game that has many opportunities for cuts to shorten its length without ruining the game. Certain areas do last for too long where a small cut would be beneficial.

A games length can make a huge difference

It may sound silly to some, but the length of a video game is crucial. When developing a game, it is essential to understand how long your game can go before it begins to lose its appeal. Every developer wants their game to be the best that it can be and give the player the most value possible for their money.

If a game is longer than it needs to be it is only harmful to the overall experience for the player. Films work in the same way; if a movie is needlessly long, it becomes boring and feels dragged out. With video games, it is no different. A prolonged game can make a significant difference when a critic is reviewing it.

With me, a game could be perfect in every way. But if it has moments where I feel that it drags out or contains unnecessary scenes, it can easily be the difference between a score of 9 out of 10 and 10 out of 10. Understanding the effective length of a video game is important during its development, failing to do so can ruin the overall experience.

What are your thoughts on the duration of video games? Do you think it can make a difference to the experience? Let me know in the comments below.

About the author

Damien Smith

Playing video games for over 23 years, love to write and love everything video game related.