15 Excellent 20-Hour Single Player Games That Are Totally Worth Your Time

Not too short, not too long.

Posted By | On 11th, Jun. 2024

15 Excellent 20-Hour Single Player Games That Are Totally Worth Your Time

As 50-100 hour games become increasingly common, the gaming audience is continuing to recognize the value of relatively more focused and concise experiences more and more each day- and thankfully, there’s no shortage of those games. Here, in fact, that’s exactly what we’ll be talking about, as we go over a few games that you can see through to completion in roughly 20 hours or so.


Those simply mainlining the game can finish Control in about a dozen hours, but with plenty of optional content also available, Remedy’s shooter is a game that you can easily get about 20 hours out of- and boy is it an unforgettable 20 hours. From excellent design and stellar atmosphere to bombastic action and gameplay, Control knows exactly how to keep you completely captivated from its first second until its last.


Another Remedy Entertainment game, and a very different one from the one we just spoke about. As opposed to the adrenaline-fueled Control, Alan Wake 2 is much more deliberate and slower paced- and yet every second of this cerebral horror journey feels earned. Whether you’re playing as Alan in the horrifying Dark Place or as Saga in the safer yet still utterly bizarre real world, this is a game that never lets up.


Like a Dragon Gaiden The Man Who Erased His Name (2)

Ordinarily, a Yakuza / Like a Dragon game is not exactly the right choice for someone looking to play a brief, 15-20 hour game, but unlike its 50-100 hour behemoth siblings, last year’s Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is a much shorter experience. Does it touch the heights that the likes of, say, Infinite Wealth or Yakuza 7 do? Maybe not. But with a strong story, predictably enjoyable brawler gameplay, and plenty of enjoyable side content, it’s well worth looking into nonetheless.


A shining example of how even smaller-budget games from independent teams can still deliver the kind of polished, compelling, narrative-driven experiences that you ordinarily expect from the AAA space, A Plague Tale: Requiem is everything that its excellent predecessor was, and then some. Delivering a solid blend of stealth, combat, storytelling, and light exploration, Asobo Studio’s action-adventure game is an 18-20 hour journey that shouldn’t be missed.


batman arkham city

A major, AAA open world game being about 20 hours or so long for something looking to do the main story and a decent chunk of the side quests may be almost completely unheard of in 2024- but back in 2011, not only was Arkham City able to deliver that with no issues, in doing so, it also became widely touted as one of the greatest games ever made. You can foil The Joker and Hugo Strange’s plans, clean up the streets of Gotham City, and engage in a fair few optional quests and get a good, memorable 20 hours out of Batman: Arkham City.


So maybe a modern AAA open world game being about 20 hours long isn’t completely unheard of. In a market that’s grown an unhealthy obsession with making games larger, last year, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was all too happy to deliver a relatively brief experience (by modern open world standards, at the very least) and it was better for it. A largely well-told main story, gripping optional content, meaningful gameplay improvements on top of an already excellent foundation- Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 checked pretty much all of the boxes that it needed to.


Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is forever going to be remembered as one of the most criminally underappreciated games of all time, and yes, we’re going to talk it up every chance it gets for exactly that reason- including now. Because, after all, you’re going to struggle to find too many games that will make as strong of an impression on you across a 15-20 hour runtime as Square Enix’s 2012 open world game will. Even now, mor than a decade on from its launch, Sleeping Dogs remains a great game to go back to.


You can, of course, get way, way more than 20 hours out of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor if you choose to engage with its healthy quantities of optional content (which is excellent), but a quicker, briskly paced 20-hour story is also an option for those who want it. As the second instalment of the series Jedi: Survivor boasts stronger writing from a much more confident development team, with characters, a story, and gameplay improvements that all build on the first game’s foundations in meaningful ways.


metro exodus

4A Games took the semi-open world approach with Metro Exodus, and fans of the game will tell you that it was absolutely the right choice. The post-apocalyptic shooter strikes an excellent balance between linear, scripted sections and more open-ended areas, while also delivering a much meatier experience than its two predecessors. Metro Exodus somehow manages to have its cake and eat it too, and stands as another great example of how balancing size against quality of content is perhaps way more important than pure quantity.


Avalanche Studios has delivered a string of fun, explosive open world games over the years, so when people say that 2015’s Mad Max is easily one of the studio’s best games ever, you know that that’s not light praise. A blasted, desolate world full of zany personality, a strong gameplay foundation that emphasized explosive combat and vehicular action, and an addictive loop of content scattered throughout its world- in spite of being a classic case of “diamond in the rough”, 2015’s Mad Max still had all the elements in place to deliver a compelling gameplay experience. Of course, for anyone looking to do more than just the main story, the game is also much longer than 20 hours.


We could have included one of several Metal Gear Solid games in this feature, but for now, let’s just stick with this one. From a design and gameplay perspective, Metal Gear Solid 4 is a hell of a stealth game even now, well over a decade and a half from its launch, and on top of that, typically enough for a Kojima game, it’s also a cinematic masterpiece. Does it have its fair share of narrative issues? Boy, does it. But ultimately, there’s way, way more to love about this package than not.


Arkane’s 2017 revival of the sci-fi IP Prey was not at all what fans of the original 2006 game may have expected it would be, but as an immersive sim, it’s better than most similar games in existence. Anyone clocking 20 hours into this masterpiece is going to be assured of a gripping, intricately handcrafted gaming experience that you’re not likely going to forget anytime soon. You can, of course, get way more out of the game if you wish (especially if you play the excellent Mooncrash DLC), but even a runthrough of just its main story is heavily recommended.


Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

We’d love to get a glimpse into an alternate reality where Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy released before Marvel’s Avengers did. The latter being as disappointing as it was led to poor sales for the former, but Eidos Montreal’s single-player action-adventure game was a really, really good game that deserved way more success. Boasting an incredibly written and wonderfully performed core cast of characters, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is an 18-20 hour journey that you shouldn’t be missing.


Obviously, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor can be significantly longer than 20 hours for those who wish to fully commit themselves to its open world, but even for someone just looking to play through its critical path, it’s a hell of a game. Slick combat and traversal, a fun take on a beloved IP and universe, and of course, an ingenious and innovative gameplay pillar in the Nemesis System- Shadow of Mordor has plenty of major strengths that make it an attractive prospect even now, a decade on from release.


watch dogs 2

Whether or not we ever get a new Watch Dogs game is anyone’s best guess, but the franchise is, at the very least, going to have one major notch on its belt in the form of Watch Dogs 2. The sophomore Watch Dogs outing is still its best one, thanks to a fun, vibrant open world that was always a blast to explore and a much stronger cast of characters (coming with a much lighter tone) than its predecessor. Being a Ubisoft open world game, Watch Dogs 2 has dozens upon dozens of hours of content for players to dive into, but sticking to the golden path, you can hit credits in roughly 20 hours without too many issues.

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