Jello Biafra may like short songs, but we love short games. Length is something creators always must take into consideration when crafting a title. Games can be too long for their own good, even if everything about them works fine. Go behind the scenes of any development and one is bound to hear stories of cut content that was either boring or worked, but did not fit in with the rest of the game.
People sometimes take shots at short games, but most of these are unwarranted. If a title is entertaining through and through, then there is nothing wrong. Of course, the contrary is also true, where a game can feel rushed and incomplete, but in the best cases the developer takes the time they have to perfect a bite sized adventure rather than a three course meal riddled with imperfection.
The twenty five games listed below are all short, but divided by their quality. Some of them are all time classics everyone must play, while the others are notably awful experiences not worth the time it takes to complete them. Beating the latter half of these may only take a few hours, but the mental toll will be exponentially greater.
So put those hot pockets in the microwave, because here are the 15 Video Games That Take Under 5 Hours To Beat That Are Worth It (And 10 That Aren’t).
25 Worth It: Gone Home
The members of Fullbright worked on AAA titles like Bioshock 2 and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified before forming the independent studio. Their first project, Gone Home, was a departure from the big budget fare they had previously been a part of.
The title sees a woman return to the US after an extended trip abroad, only to find the house completely empty. The entire game is spent searching the house for her family, slowly picking up clues and unraveling the secrets of the character's kin. The emotional story is told with a subtlety unseen in most titles.
24 Worth It: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
Each title in this extreme sports franchise expanded on its predecessor, usually to success. This does not mean that the old titles should be left at the wayside, however. Dusting off the old PS1 and loading up the premiere Tony Hawk's Pro Skater title is still a blast.
There are no manuals, reverts, or any of the other innovations the sequels added, but the core game play holds up. Running through the main campaign and unlocking all the levels is a breeze, but multiplayer with buddies provides endless hours of entertainment.
23 Not Worth It: Rogue Warrior
Do not be alarmed when putting Rogue Warrior into a console or PC. The system isn't broken, the game's graphics are truly that ugly. The game released in 2009, but looks like a first person shooter from the early aughts. Richard Marcinko, the main character, was a real Navy Seal turned author, but the game's events are not based in fact.
The one saving grace of this barely playable dumpster fire is the hilariously unenthusiastic Mickey Rourke delivering lines as he appears to be dozing off in the recording booth.
22 Worth It: Mortal Kombat X
People can't be blamed for overlooking fighting games' story modes. The drama takes a back seat to the one on one battles and multiplayer mayhem. Mortal Kombat X puts a dedication into its story mode not often seen in the genre.
The fights are separated by smoothly executed cinematics showcasing the series' soap opera-esque melodrama. Old friends get their time in the spot light, while new combatants prove their mettle. The whole adventure takes less than an afternoon to go through, and will heighten appreciation of an already stellar title.
21 Worth It: The Bouncer
Square has taken foray's away from the RPG territory before this, but The Bouncer is really something special. This unique twist on the brawler took advantage of the Dualshock 2's pressure sensitivity, and the fluid animation utilized ragdoll physics.
Each battle can be played with any of the three main characters, offering a different perspective on the events depending on the player's choice, lending itself to multiple play throughs. After the story is done, hook up the multitap for some four player duels where most bosses and supporting characters can be played as.
20 Not Worth It: The Quiet Man
The Quiet Man seemed like a spiritual successor to The Bouncer in some ways, being a Square Enix brawler whose plot unravels more and more with multiple replays. Our hats go off to anyone who managed to beat it even once.
The game is barely playable, and its gimmick is half baked. During the first play through, all dialogue is muted in an attempt to simulate the deaf main character's experience. However, the protagonist clearly understands what people are saying through lip reading, resulting in nothing but confusion for the player.
19 Worth It: Tacoma
Fullbright's second title decided to make things more extraordinary. Gone Home's family drama is replaced by a science fiction mystery in Tacoma. Players are sent to an abandoned space station in order to discover exactly what transpired there, in a set up not unlike Stanislaw Lem's Solaris.
As a step up from its predecessor, Tacoma offers more interaction with the world and a larger environment. The title did not sell as well as Gone Home or garner the same critical praise, but it was still successful and a must play for any fans of the genre.
18 Worth It: Modern Warfare 2
A common complaint lobbed at the unfathomably successful Call of Duty series are their allegedly under cooked campaigns. On one hand it is an understandable grievance, as the story modes don't generally last longer than five or six hours.
On the other hand, what is there is a bombastic thrill ride. Each level is chock full of impressive set pieces to move along the hammy drma. Even though it's closing in on ten years old, Modern Warfare 2's story stands as a highlight of the series. Online multiplayer is the real star of the show, but the campaign should not be ignored.
17 Not Worth It: Medal Of Honor: Warfighter
The original Medal of Honor games are all time classics. When the series was rebooted in 2010, it brought the action from World War II to early aughts Afghanistan. The first one fared okay, with a fun campaign and a surprisingly engaging multiplayer mode.
The sequel, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, dropped the ball in every way. The game is riddled with bugs and glitches, dooming the reboot at only the second entry. Maybe the series will see a revival in the future, but until then it is best to stick with the originals.
16 Worth It: Hotline Miami
Dennaton Game's neon soaked masterpiece is not for the faint of heart. Its levels are brutally violent escapades through the seedy slums of a slightly off kilter 1980's Miami, telling an enigmatic story that leaves players with more questions than answers.
On top of that, the game is punishingly difficult, but instant respawns mixed with the blaring synth driven soundtrack create a hypnotic experience no other game offers. Running through the levels would probably take all of ten minutes if it was a cakewalk, but then the game would be no fun.
15 Worth It: Contra
Arcade shooters are not known for their extensive length, but running from the left to right, blasting everything in the way, makes for a great time. Most gamers were introduced to Contra on the NES, but its first incarnation was in arcades. While graphics are superior in an arcade cabinet, playing on consoles eliminates the need to feed quarters after every game over.
Additionally, the legendary Konami code can be exploited to grant thirty lives, making the short, but tough, adventure more manageable. Regardless of platform, the best way to brave through Contra is with a friend.
14 Not Worth It: Bomberman: Act Zero
Before Bomberman: Act Zero, did anybody every ask for a dark interpretation of the classic series? Bomberman's aesthetic and game play are nearly flawless, so there really is no justification to tinker with it.
The 2006 Xbox 360 exclusive replaces the cutesy colors and jolly characters with an industrial theme and robots. This transformation is jarring enough, but there was little effort to make the new look interesting. Every level looks the same and character designs seem uninspired. Thankfully, there are plenty of other quality Bomberman titles to choose from other than this atrocity.
13 Worth It: Portal
The Orange Box was one of the best packages one could ask for; two previously released classics, two new titles, and a strikingly unique multiplayer game. The five games here are all highly revered, but Portal is stood out among the rest for its emphasis on puzzle solving.
The portal mechanic proved addicting, and the antagonist's turned out to be one of gaming's most beloved characters. All this praise and we haven't even brought up the Companion Cube or "Still Alive". Portal's success was big enough to warrant a meatier sequel.
12 Worth It: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Hideo Kojima's prelude to The Phantom Pain garnered controversy upon release for its price tag and short length. A first run through can usually be done in ninety minutes or so. Once players know what to do, it is easy to rescue Paz and Chico in less than fifteen minutes.
While this alone sounds disappointing, the environment itself is fully detailed and a joy to explore. There are a plethora of ways to accomplish the main mission, and the bonus levels offer new ways to toy around with the environment.
11 Not Worth It: Rambo: The Video Game
First Blood is one of the best action films of the 1980's. The two sequels slowly became a self parody before it brought all back home with 2008's Rambo. If those four movies are not enough and one cannot wait until Last Blood comes out, it is recommended to just be patient and not crack open Rambo: The Video Game.
This on rails shooter takes players through the events of the first three movies, sucking all the entertainment out of them. At least it used dialogue from the films, which is kind of cool.
10 Worth It: Half Life 2: Episode One
Fans waited six years between the first two Half Life titles. With the introduction of episodes, Valve intended to deliver fans content faster while still maintaining the signature quality for which the series was known. Half Life 2: Episode One showed that the studio's bite sized endeavors were still compelling experiences.
Journeying with Alex Vance through the recently ruined City 17 was a tense ride, and playing through it an additional time with developer commentary added more replay value. It's just a shame that Valve's plan to produce more episodes ultimately did not pan out as fans hoped.
9 Not Worth It: Revolution X
There are only two reasons to ever play Revolution X; One has to either be a diehard Aerosmith fan or the pizza hut has an especially sparse selection of arcade cabinets. If one does have the itch to play it, stay far and clear of any home console port.
The arcade game at least plays smoothly, but the numerous conversions are all muddy messes that feel like a chore to play. It's not the worst music themes video game out there, but there are better ones to play, like Brutal Legend.
8 Worth It: Firewatch
People may condemn walking simulators as barely even being games, but they do fit all the criteria. It is not a movie where one is simply observing the action, they are still playing a character and going through the events in a role. They also are a way for less experienced players to get into the medium, as they offer little challenge.
Firewatch took people by surprise when it hit shelves in 2016, putting players in the shoes of a park ranger as he investigates a series of strange happenings at Shoshone National Park.
7 Not Worth It: Tunnel Rats 1968
Odds are most readers have not heard of Tunnel Rats 1968. Should anybody here know it, we sincerely apologize. The movie was directed by everybody's favorite interpreter of video games, Uwe Ball. With this title, however, the movie came out before the video game was released.
In an unexpected turn of events for the director, the movie is said to be superior to the game, but that is not a high accomplishment. Not only is it boring, but this virtual foray into the Vietnam Way is brimming with bugs and glitches.
6 Worth It: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
This long running Ubisoft franchise has a knack for giving players something completely unexpected. Far Cry: Primal was out of left field and the upcoming Far Cry: New Dawn was also an unexpected, but more than welcome, surprise. Before either of those, there was Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, a zany love letter to the 1980s starring Michael Biehn.
The simultaneous parody and homage to the decade was beloved by everybody who played it. Hopefully in the future the world will be treated to a full length Blood Dragon title.
5 Not Worth It: Night Trap
Since the technology was available, companies have always tried to mix full motion video with gaming. "It's like playing a movie" is an intriguing tagline to boast, but it rarely feels that way in execution. The game portion of the experience boils down to pressing buttons and activating traps.
To its credit, Night Trap feels more like a game than its other FMV peers, but it still offers little past the novelty of watching live actors. The title still has an important place in video game history, but should only be played as a curiosity.
4 Worth It: Nights Into Dreams
Too many of Sega's exclusive characters tried to appeal to teenagers and the spunky nineties attitude. Standing contrary to this was Night, the playable character of Night's Into Dreams. The game's has a surprisingly sorrowful introduction, but the game play is lively and engaging.
The title never received the recognition it deserved, partly due to its release on the failed Sega Saturn, but did get a sequel on the Wii in 2007. Fortunately, the original is also available on the PS3 and Xbox 360 for anybody interested in this adventure.
3 Not Worth It: Plumbers Don't Wear Ties
Send the kids out of the room for this one. Not because of its erotic content, but because no one that young should be forced to experience a game as awful as Plumbers Don't Wear Ties.
This FMV title barely constitutes as a game, but it still manages to be a chore to play with frustrating menus and poor implementation of decision making mechanics. There are also no checkpoints, meaning a game over will send players back to the beginning, forcing them to watch the same poorly acted cinematics numerous times.
2 Worth It: Metal Slug
The premiere Metal Slug title unleashed upon the world in 1996, and the first four sequels were churned out in relatively quick succession. It's hard to go wrong with any of the first five entries. They are all similar, but the fast paced gun play never grows stale, and is enhanced by the quirky art style.
Players who are still hungry after those five titles can still jump into Metal Slug 6 and 7, released later in the last decade. Whatever one does, stay far away from the 3D spinoff, which is only available in Japan.
1 Not Worth It: Mortal Kombat: Special Forces
The Mortal Kombat series has been hit or miss when it comes to spin offs. The pride of the bunch has to be Shaolin Monks, the cooperative brawler starring Liu Kang and Kung Lao. The absolute bottom of the barrel is Special Forces, which stands as an embarrassment for the series.
Players take control of Jax as they fumble their way through the game's poorly designed levels with unwieldy controls and eye straining graphics. To top it off, the game does not even have multiplayer, something one would expect from any beat 'em up.
What are your favorite short games? Let us know in the comments!