A few nights ago I sat down and replayed the original Portal. As GLaDOS would say in that creepy monotone voice, "It's been a long time." I wound up playing the game from start to finish without moving from my chair once. In my case, two and a half hours is a long time to go without peeing (weak bladder). As I listened to the now notorious "Still Alive" song during the closing credits, I started to think about other games that have drawn the short stick where length is concerned, but are fantastic single player titles nonetheless. Usually we scrutinize games for being longevity impaired; however, there are a few instances where that trend is bucked. Here are five such cases (in no particular order, and not counting Portal).
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
This was one of my personal favorites from 2010. What’s so surprising is Enslaved only offered up a nine hour story mode, nothing else. Yet, I still came away from the experience happy with my purchase. The reason is simple: Enslaved’s narrative is just that captivating. If you haven’t already played it, do yourself a favor and pick it up. It’s probably in a bargain bin somewhere, which essentially makes it a true diamond in the rough.
Splinter Cell: Conviction
A lot of people criticized Splinter Cell: Conviction for it’s remarkably short single player experience. I, however, dug it, as it kept the pacing and narrative incredibly tight. By the time I finished Conviction, I was ready to begin another playthrough. And guess what? That’s precisely what I did, booting up a second save file immediately after finishing my first. Splinter Cell: Conviction’s single player leaves you satisfied and wanting more. That’s a good sign that developer Ubisoft Montreal did right by this game.
Mirror’s Edge was an incredibly refreshing title when it released in 2008. It was also a relatively short title, coming in at under six hours on a casual playthrough. Luckily, all six hours of Mirror’s Edge were pretty spectacular, with a jaw-dropping visual style and gameplay that actually produced the feeling of being a parkour master. Mirror’s Edge was also perfect for speed running to see just how fast the game could be completed.
It might be unfair to include Shadow Complex in this list as it’s a downloadable Xbox Live Arcade title. Typically, these titles are short by circumstance. However, in my eyes, I view Shadow Complex as a criminally inexpensive AAA title. The game was developed by Chair Entertainment, using Epic Games’ Unreal graphics engine. Therefore, Shadow Complex looks better than most blockbuster titles that release at retail. But to bring this back on point, Shadow Complex is a game that can easily be completed in under six hours if the person playing isn’t fond of exploration. With that said, all six hours are glorious. While the plot of Shadow Complex isn’t anything to write home about, the gameplay more than makes up for it, earning it a spot on this list, XBLA title or not.
Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
This game is a true hidden gem of last generation, and one of the few titles that does the movie tie-in genre proud. Combining adventure, first-person gunplay and RPG elements, the Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay was a game that kept on giving throughout its short 6.5 hour single player campaign. Escape from Butcher Bay was so good, in fact, that it earned an HD remastering to launch beside it’s follow-up, Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. This game is the very definition of short but, oh, so sweet.