The year’s best games are under 10 hours | Polygon's 2018 Games of the Year

The year’s best games are under 10 hours | Polygon's 2018 Games of the Year

Game of the Year lists tend to be dominated by big AAA titles, but 2018 has seen a number of stand-out indie games. So how do you compare two vastly different experiences?

Games shown (in order of appearance):
Return of the Obra Dinn
Donut County
Into the Breach
A Way Out

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  1. Koakuma SEN on January 24, 2021 at 7:46 pm

    I agree very much with the sentiment of appreciating good, short indie games; mainly because I don’t like the opinion that games should be judged/based/priced on long hours/playtime, which is what I feel the AAA industry is pushing for these days. But open world games have their place too; what else would tide us over until the next indie hit comes out?

    Also, Solo represent, for real good insight into oneself (and puzzles).

  2. Timothy Smith on January 24, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    Celeste has become one of my favorite games of all time. I always put it in my top 5 after playing it. Its like she said, its super hard because it’s supposed to be. You get to feel the anxiety your character is going through

  3. Kevin Vo on January 24, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    8 hours is short?

  4. Lea Seidman on January 24, 2021 at 7:48 pm

    I love shorter games. I want to be satisfied, I want to enjoy the art. That’s why Donut County was my jam to play, but I watched Cuphead let’s plays.

  5. oh-no-plz-no on January 24, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    I think the bigger games are more popular because more often than not, you choose how you want to play. You choose your character and their story and their path, and that takes a lot longer. However, I can play Skyrim for hours, but aen’t interested in any of the current AAA games except Spiderman. Of those indie games, I’d only play the phone one, and once I’d completed the story, I wouldn’t play it again. I like games that you can play over and over and get a different complete story. If that means playing a bigger game like Skyrim to avoid more strategy, multiplayer, or war-like, endless grinding games, so be it.

  6. Thierry Huguenin on January 24, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    Of course Fortnite is released…

  7. Lan Krownet on January 24, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    All games are under 10 hours for a speedrunner.

  8. Ketchup Obelix on January 24, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    i prefer a short good game over a long boring one.

  9. Borbs Birbs on January 24, 2021 at 7:57 pm

    my top 3 favorite ‘small’ games:
    1: UNDERTALE (and Deltarune)
    2: Celeste
    3: What Remains of Edith Finch (Cry)

  10. clvr on January 24, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    “Is shorter better?”

    Not if you ask a girl, I believe.

  11. Annie Norton on January 24, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    what is the jazzy song used during the video? it’s the slap!

    also, great video jenna!

  12. Eu-Gene Teo on January 24, 2021 at 8:01 pm

    That depends on the indie game… if you’re a perfectionist, Into the Breach can probably take over 100 hours, as it was for me.

  13. OneWingedChris on January 24, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    YES! Florence was so good!

  14. houdinimachine on January 24, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    I have to be honest, I’m getting tired of open world video games. I love Horizon Zero Dawn, but I get tired of it so quickly because I feel I need to do all the side stuff to level up for story content and for the extra story that side content offers.

  15. Chronic Enigma on January 24, 2021 at 8:04 pm

    Great Video, will have to check them all out and stream them!

  16. Whuuut on January 24, 2021 at 8:04 pm

    Red Dead should have been way shorter in just killing Dutch and Mica earlier and explore more intersting stories of Redemption

  17. Anders Taylor on January 24, 2021 at 8:05 pm

    more brian

  18. Amy Dentata on January 24, 2021 at 8:06 pm


  19. Shadow Gamer on January 24, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    There is another issue here I don’t see many people address. How well does the game work as an open world compared to its theme. Hear me out.

    There are a lot of open world games. A lot. And you see a lot of series that didn’t use to be open world. This sometimes creates a dissonance. You play the game and can’t help but feel like this game would be better off not being open world. For example, farcry works because the sidequests fit into the story of being a fish out of water exploring the jungle. Or in Witcher, the side quests and hunts fit because you are exactly that, a Witcher, and a lot of the sidequests fit right in the themes of the short stories.
    But take a game like assassin creed odyssey. The you look at the game and the sidequests don’t fit. They don’t fit the theme. I’m not saying they aren’t well done they are and I love em. But they kinda don’t work thematically, especially with the relative immediacy of the main quest. Same for god of war. It doesn’t fit.
    This year we had none of the open world games where the open world fit the theme.

  20. Melih Durmaz on January 24, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    One of the games I found too short was Inside. It was an extremely well-polished game. But it took like 2 hours. It felt like more could be delivered from the game’s world.

  21. Paradox Acres on January 24, 2021 at 8:13 pm

    This is all very interesting, Jenna..but I still consider 2018 as the *Year of the Single Player AAA* Video games (Dad of War, Spider-Man, Red Dead 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey).

    This year, Sony & Rockstar proved to the game industry that there is _still_ demand for good Single Player games, dammit *>:(*

  22. Desth O on January 24, 2021 at 8:13 pm

    One of the best released this year goes by the name Bomb Chicken. A blast to play, what a treat so short and sweet. Nitrome rocks!

  23. nitin nishant on January 24, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Girl, you need to do water fasting. Your skin’s dying out.

  24. Nicholas Hibbeler on January 24, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    I always have bloated playtimes because I like going very slow, so short games are appreciated.

  25. Android 19 on January 24, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    finishing the C sides sure took me longer than 8 hours, let me tell ya.

  26. SwallowFox on January 24, 2021 at 8:17 pm

    Both styles of game are very good and now I want to play donut county

  27. myla hobbit on January 24, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    oh no. jenna has made it onto the list of polygon employees I would die for with this well thought out take on time

  28. Owen stroud on January 24, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    They’re not better simply for the fact they’re shorter. But, what in my opinion it was instead of making a 60 hour game that’s grindy and has padding, they decided to condense all the fun into a 10 hour game which makes it consistently fun. Games can be fun that are this long, breath of the wild, GTA 5, persona 5 and a bunch more. It’s just these developers decided to condense the fun.

  29. Mystery Personthing on January 24, 2021 at 8:19 pm

    Three Words: LA-MULANA 2. Bigger game that kicks butt and has great moment to moment gameplay~

  30. mitkitty on January 24, 2021 at 8:20 pm

    Wandersong took me ten hours and was both beautiful and fun. A game just needs to be well put together, not long

  31. Jojo Arigato on January 24, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    You need to play them a lot….
    Dude….do you even game bro?

  32. I'm Not Loss on January 24, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    0:54 no u

  33. Rowan Atkinson on January 24, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    This is true, but the lack of shockingly beautiful game The Missing is a crime. Then again it’s a lot so understood.

  34. Musab MASRI on January 24, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    Celeste took me almost 48 hours to complete lol.

  35. NewEntry .-. on January 24, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    I played moss on PSVR. That shit was more than twenty dollars, made in unreal, and took less than 5 hours. I enjoyed it and I don’t regret purchasing it. Which is weird because I felt like so much was missing but I still feel satisfied.

  36. spyroisrad 46 on January 24, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    Short games are ok but honestly I don’t see the meaning in playing a game with no real depth of gameplay. I feel like most indie games focus on story and gameplay and that’s a fun experience…until they end like thirty minutes in. Most of the time I want to play a game over and over again and have some new content to discover but you can’t really manage that with small indie games.

  37. Huedra on January 24, 2021 at 8:24 pm

    Gris was so beautiful

  38. The Freemankiller on January 24, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    What about all the other small indie-games released in 2018 that were great?
    What about all the other great ones?
    Seriously I only enjoyed enter the breach on that list and I HATE SHORT TITELS!

  39. Mmmph on January 24, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    Jenna’s fashion sense = [chef’s kiss]

  40. Jack Sanger on January 24, 2021 at 8:29 pm

    I’d definitely say that The Red Strings Club is one of the best short games of the year. It takes only about 3 or 4 hours to complete on the first try, though it has some replay values out of different ways of information gathering and dialogue.

  41. Manny Baez on January 24, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    I just can’t devote 40-60 hours for games anymore. I love shorter more narrative games. Games up to 30 hours are what I like now.

  42. O on January 24, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    I like rpgs…

  43. bronzeowl9 on January 24, 2021 at 8:34 pm

    I think celeste took me 75 hours. But good vid.

  44. Savon Vanderbloemen on January 24, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    stardew valley and slime rancher are the best of both worlds you cant change my mind

  45. -Kakao- Katze on January 24, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    I remember my closest friend downloaded Florence and played it in the bathrooms at lunch and one day she just told me how fast it went and how surprised she was. With the length, she said nothing about the story or gameplay. She was going on about how surprised she was that this short game costed her the amount it would be for a typical downloadable game on the phone, and at the time, I was surprised too. But sure time might seem to factor into how much a game is worth monetarily, it is what you get out of it and the experience that you judge it by.
    Clearly, my friend must have not gotten much out of it because despite playing it, she still only focussed on the time and money spent whilst people with satisfying experiences would have come back with a story of how personal it is to them, meaning that the stories will be literally what they made of the game.
    So having that said, how do I feel about this topic? Well…
    Just play your damn game, if you’re not enjoying it, there may be either a learning curve in gameplay or mindset (like if you’re looking at the game from the right angle) or it’s just not your cup of tea.

  46. Laser Show on January 24, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    Into the breach isn’t under 10 hours, if you play it right😏

  47. Hannah on January 24, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    A Jenna video!! yes!!!

  48. Cristian Villavicencio on January 24, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    I’ve been becoming more fond of short games. 8 hours is a good average.

  49. Lauren Carroll on January 24, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    I am torn. Some of my fav games are on the shorter side. 15 hours or less. But I also respect any developer who can make an 80 hour game amazing all throughout

  50. MegaPlayDoe on January 24, 2021 at 8:45 pm

    Assassins Creed Odyssey was the best game this year