Short (Single Session) Narrative Games

There have been a couple of critically acclaimed short narrative games recently. Enough that I think they might merit their own little topic. Mostly indie, these are things that are movie length (~2 hours) or less, and are designed to be completed in a single session.

Some might be walking simulators, but a lot of walking simulators are mood or exploration based, rather than being linear narrative experiences.

A couple examples:

Wide Ocean, Big Jacket


Subsurface Circular

Any favorites in this genre?

10 minutes!

Also (and also free)

Both are…dare I say classics of the genre!

A Short Hike

Wide Ocean and Florence are among my absolute favorite narrative games.

Good call on the Blendo games, @roguefrog!

I will recommend The Lion’s Song, which might be more than a single session in total, but not a lot more. And anyway, it’s split into episodes that definitely are!

And The Stillness of the Wind would be a pretty long single session, but it’s also close! (It’s game jam predecessor, Where the Goats Are, definitely is.)

Old Man’s Journey

I quite liked Sagebrush which was in the bundle. Pretty creepy exploration of a cult compound.

Oh! I mentioned this in the indie thread, but Signal is a nice 45-minute mystery game with some resource-juggling! (If you happen to find the best ending, I need you to tell me how you did it. I played three times through and missed it every time.)

@Nightgaunt Finally had the head space to play Wide Ocean Big Jacket and it was wonderful! When I saw the log guy I just knew this was the same developers behind A Good Gardener (which I haven’t played yet!). Keen to play their other games now. Loved the dialogue and relationships and scenes. Did you check out the ranger chapters from the chapter select screen? I’ll be looking at those tomorrow.

I’ve got The Stillness of the Wind and Florence lined up at some point, and Sagebrush and Signal have been on my radar as well. I know these games are short but I think they’re precious and should be savoured!

I love this thread by the way @CLWheeljack.

I’ll submit Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist by the excellent Crows Crows Crows (of The Stanley Parable).

I also love Grace Bruxner’s The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game too.

I wasn’t so keen on it overall but Paratopic is a recent single-session narrative experience. It’s very Lynchian and Blendo.

Old Man’s Journey is the only one mentioned in this thread so far that I’ve played, and I just want to express my opinion that although it is short, I don’t think it’s a single session game, since it’s not that short. But it only took me about 7 play sessions, so about a week’s worth of play.

I just played them this weekend! They definitely left me wanting even more. I kinda doubt we’ll get more until their next game, though. In the meantime, besides The Good Gardener (which I should get back to and try to finish–thanks for reminding me), check out Little Party, which feels a lot like WOBJ:

Yes, that’s the one that jumped out at me! Will add that to my list.

Inkle (the team behind 80 days) made a short game called Overboard!, where you play as a murderer trying to evade detection on a boat. It plays kind of like the Last Express or Majora’s Mask, where there’s a global timeline with no variability other than your actions, and where you go determines what you see and interact with. A single run takes about 30 minutes, I’ve done 3 runs and it seems like you can probably see most of the content in 6-8? Not quite a single sitting, but close to it.

Well that looks right up my alley! Guess I know what I’ll be doing tonight.