12 Video Games You Can Beat in One Afternoon

Game console collecting dust? Or has it simply been assigned as the dedicated Netflix machine? Video games are an expensive and time-consuming hobby. When there are things like work, school, and kids to think about, it’s hard enough to eek out a little “you” time. Gone are the days when you could sit down and binge on one game. You may not have time to commit to those crazy-long 100-plus hour games, but chances are that you have at least three or four hours of wiggle room.

Digital marketplaces like Steam, PSN, and Xbox are quickly becoming the place for video game transactions. These new outlets allow smaller titles that wouldn’t be cost effective to release on brick-and-mortar retail shelves into the mainstream market.

These games usually cost anywhere between $5 to $20, so your budget won’t suffer. But the best part is you can finish them in an afternoon (three to five hours), without worrying when you’re going to find the time to pick up the controller again. It’ll be like you’re just sitting down to watch a Lord of the Rings movie (an extended edition, that is). Here’s our list of 12 games you can complete in one afternoon.

1. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

Source: Starbreeze Studios

Source: Starbreeze Studios

Need a heartwarming, fantastical story to whittle away an afternoon? Brothers has exactly that. Play as two brothers traversing a world filled with giants, gryphons, and other creatures making their way to a tree with the cure to save their dying father. The left and right joystick each control one brother. Some have found the mechanics to be a little disorienting, but the game isn’t heavy on thinking fast on your feet, so you’ll have time to get your bearings with the controls. Gameplay is mostly made up of small puzzles in the 3-D world that aren’t too difficult to solve.

Time to beat: 3-4 hours

2. Journey (PS3, PS4)

Source: That Game Company

Source: That Game Company

With only a beam of light in the sky as your guide, you and other mysterious red creatures will journey toward it. Climbing and evading danger, players of Journey will make friends and companions, and explore a dangerously beautiful world that’s on the brink of death. Find out what waits for you on the top of the mountain where the light shines.

Time to beat: 3-5 hours

3. Gone Home (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Source: Fullbright

Source: Fullbright

It’s a dark and stormy night, and you come home from being abroad to find that no one is there. Little clues are left around the house as to what happened to your parents and younger sister. You can explore the house at your own leisurely pace and as thoroughly as you like in order to figure out why no one is home. Gone Home is by no means a horror story, although the premise sounds like it involves spooks and scares. This game is more of a coming-of-age story, and you’re putting the pieces left by your family to find out what it all means.

Time to beat: 2-3 hours

4. Deadlight (Xbox 360, PC)

You play a man looking for his wife and daughter in 1980s Seattle, where zombies have overrun the city. Deadlight refuses to empower players with run-and-gun style play like most zombie titles — rather, you have to navigate the derelict city as a man trying to flee and avoid confrontation. This side-scrolling puzzle platformer also has a few twists in the story that propel a player forward, giving purpose to your mission.

Time to beat: 4-5 hours

5. The Stanley Parable (PC, Mac)

The Stanley Parable gives you control and then quickly reminds you that you can’t do whatever you like — you’re not in control, and it’s all part of the plan. If you enjoy reading Socrates or even if you don’t, this philosophical trip lets you take multiple tries to “win” the game’s multiple endings. It’s an interesting trip if you’re into rabbit holes and smug narrators.

Time to beat: 1-4 hours

6. Monument Valley (iOS)

This game takes a page from Fez: It’s all about traversing a world that isn’t entirely what it seems — a 3-D scape once rotated reveals new paths. It’s a puzzle game about exploration. No task will leave you scratching your head; the game is more about experiencing this M.C. Escher-esque world.

Time to beat: 1 hour

7. Device 6 (iOS)

Device 6 is a puzzle game through and through. It harkens back to the days of old, when players would actually have to remember what they were told a few moments earlier and write important things down. None of this storing important info in a digital notepad for you — you’re on your own. If you would like your wits tested in an interactive page-turner, check out this game.

Time to beat: 2-4 hours

8. Limbo (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, Vita, PC, iOS)

You’re a little boy waking up in a black and grey world, dismal and alone. Why are you here and why is everything here trying to kill you? A side-scrolling puzzle platformer with a dark air, Limbo tests your wits to figure out how to make it past deadly spiders and avoid traps set by other people who live in this desperate place.

Time to beat: 3-5 hours

9. Portal (Xbox 360, PC, Mac)

A lighter title with much humor, Portal is a 3-D puzzle game. You play as a human lab rat tasked to figure out your way through multiple mazes … and perhaps even try to find a way past the puzzles to freedom.

Time to beat: 3-5 hours

10. Thomas Was Alone (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PS3, Vita, iOS, PC)

Yes, the main character is a rectangle, but it’s one of the most endearing geometric shapes you’ll ever encounter. It goes beyond being a 2-D puzzle platformer — the game plays with gravity and perception as you navigate through its minimalistic levels.

Time to beat: 3-4 hours

11. Super Time Force (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PC, PS Vita)

Super Time Force is a side-scrolling shooter that pokes fun at time travel tropes. The world has been overrun by robots, but rather than save humanity, you’ll be using your abilities to complete missions, like getting all the browser updates from the 31st century, so the Doctor can watch cat videos. When overrun by enemies, you can use time travel to your advantage to build an army of … well, you.

Time to beat: 4-5 hours

12. Hotline Miami (PS4, PS3, Vita, PC, Mac)

Sex, drugs, and violence: Hotline Miami may look like an 8-bit top-down arcade title, but its style is cringing and brutal when smashing someone’s head in with a baseball bat. You get a call every night to do a job, and you have no idea why or who is giving you these missions. You have to navigate through the hallways of your target’s hangout with a plan and a quick trigger finger, because once you get hit, you’re dead. No health bars, no regenerating shields. Hotline Miami is not for the easily enraged: you will die and you’ll have to learn when to move and when to wait to attack.

Time to beat: 5-6 hours

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!