I’m an ADULT! Well, at least an honorary adult. And what is more adult from moving from not having enough money to buy the games I want to play into to not having enough time to play ALL THESE GAMES I BOUGHT. I am far more about the story-driven single-player experiences that can make me cry – but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve logged literal hundreds of hours into Enter the Gungeon and still haven’t beaten Persona 5, God of War (2018), and the Witcher 3 despite my undying love for each of them. It just takes a level of energy and commitment that I don’t have at the end of my tireless workdays. So I am here to offer you an alternative to these commitments to these nine modern sprawling masterpieces with the games you should play instead because you’re an adult with no time.
9. The Witcher 3
The Witcher 3 is truly the original daunting game to me. I prepped by reading several of the books and comics and preordered a special edition. The game gets released and its immediately recognized as an RPG that’s going to change the gaming landscape and one of the best games in the world. I still haven’t beat it. I’ve actually only had around five hours logged. It just became more and more daunting as the time built up and I would pass by one small town and see a bounty board full of in-depth side quests and here I am now… a game gathering dust and a heart full of shame. But what should I fill my time with that is going to give me some of that dark fantasy AND respect my time (I’m sorry great Witcher gods).
Instead, Play: The Binding of Isaac Rebirth
Why get your morbid baby mutilation bogged down with hundreds of hours of character and world development when you can have it served to you in powerful 30-minute doses! The Binding of Isaac brought the roguelike genre to the mainstream for many people, which is the pinnacle of quick stress relieving game seshes. In the Binding of Isaac you can jump in an insanely morbid yet charming world full of tough-as-nails 30-minute runs and with the rerelease of The Binding of Isaac with even more content in Rebirth on the Switch it makes it now the perfect on the go game squeeze. If you haven’t already played this game, jump on it. No pressure… I don’t want to stress you out.
8. Persona 5
From seeing the original screenshots of Persona 5’s menu systems I knew it was something special. It introduced me into I had never played a persona game before but the buzz surrounding the game was already palpable. Sure enough, Persona 5 introduced the world to THE premier JRPG with an in-depth cast of misfit characters and systems for both their school lives and lives and phantom thieves. It enchanted gamers with hundreds of hours of slick gameplay, a killer jazz-themed soundtrack and the best art style I have ever seen in a game (for real this game makes studying for a test beautiful). Wait why haven’t I finished this game. Oh yeah, we don’t need hundreds of hours of gameplay for slick gameplay, pumpin’ beats, and harsh pop art style, and we sure as hell don’t need to go to school to get them!
Instead, Play: Hotline Miami (1 NOT 2)
Instead get your adrenaline pumping with the flashy, techno nightmare murder-simulator that is Hotline Miami. Who needs to study and water your plant every day when you can kick a door dressed as a grasshopper and throw a drill across the room to kill your enemies? The catch that makes this game the perfect solace for stressed-out busy adults is its quick succession gameplay and tension releasing gameplay. As soon as you die you’re right back up swinging in a matter of seconds and knocking out another level in minutes. Plus it’s hard to be mad at your boss Pam when you let out your anger on a slew of mobsters with nothing but a panther mask and your fists!
7. Assassins Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed was one of those open-world titles that originally hooked me real good. Though it wasn’t bad, after title after title with little significant change and improvement Assassin’s Creed took a step back and went back to the drawing board with their first time of not releasing an Assassin’s title in a year. Ubisoft returned with an ancient vengeance with its next two titles, Origins and Odyssey. These game thrust Assassin’s Creed from open-world action adventure, to full-fledged Open-world RPG with all new systems. With settings like ancient Egypt and ancient Rome (this was the whole basis of that ancient vengeance joke back there), there was new, wider open spaces to play with, with oceans and vast deserts and mountains. Seriously this is the truest iteration of the Ubisoft open-world sandbox, with over a hundred hours of content. That’s a hundred hours I DO NOT have.
Instead, Play: Downwell
Truth be told I knew I had to put a mobile phone game on here despite my reluctance of the medium (that also in spite of how much I actually play them) and here it is! I mean, what is better for a time-less adult who wants to squeeze in some gaming than having that game right in their pocket? That’s why mobile gaming has been able to get away with such garbage. But Downwell isn’t only the crown-jewel of mobile gaming with integrity (hmm future article?) but also the streamlined ingredients of everything it takes to make a no-strings gaming experience for people who don’t have what it takes to commit to the sprawling journey of our nameless heroes. The game is a fast-paced downwards fall of shooting and platforming while gathering upgrades. Even the set-up and control scheme is no-frills to make this the easiest experience to pick-up and play. That isn’t to say this game is easy though as Downwell challenges to see how far you can get before dying and returning to the beginning with everything lost except skill and cosmetic upgrades and modes. All of this combined with one of the best loving homages to yesteryear pixel graphics make this the game you should carry in your pocket at all times.
6. Horizon Zero Dawn
Sony and Gorilla games really came out of nowhere swinging with its brand new open-world RPG IP Horizon Zero Dawn. Having never tried their hand at such a game Gorilla game leaned in and knocked one out of the part for the PS4 (phew, for a second there I thought Sony would be good with just dozens of great games). I need to say little about this game because, first off, there is no doubt you have already heard of it because it did extremely well and has robot dinosaurs in it, and secondly, ROBOT DINOSAURS. I did not agree to give up an undying love for dinosaurs, particularly of the robot variety, when this whole adult thing happened; that was not on the contract. It also found a way to make a world with robot dinos to feel real, lived in, and wholly lovable. With a fascinating story, fun pinpoint and hunt based combat, and one of the most empowering and thoroughly likable protagonists, it’s hard not to recommend this game to anyone… But I can’t if you have NO TIME! How are you supposed to give enough time to fall in love with all of this and still make money to buy potatoes? I can’t – I’m still only 3/4ths of the way through.
Instead, Play: Enter the Gungeon
I don’t know what my rationale for this replacement entirely is, but it legitimately worked for me so there’s something there! There aren’t a ton of similarities between these two games except a very similar fire/dodge combat loop and the giddy energy to an exciting and weird concept like robot dinos or a giant dragon made out of a gun. But damn, this game ended up becoming one of my most played games in years if not since I became a gamer. The inherent fun to the ideas, the addicting loop, numerous strange secrets, and continued developer support make Enter the Gungeon one of those perfect storms of gaming. Essentially it’s a roguelike d(g)ungeon crawler bullet hell – A mix of the ages. Jump in and have yourself a moderately-timed game sesh.
5. Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter World is without a doubt the most approachable the Monster Hunter game in the series. The bad part is that that is really not saying much. Monster Hunter World thrusts players into the in-depth grind that is learning the skill to track and kill the next big beat – this time with a seamless open-world to-boot. Tactics are nuanced, monsters are numerous, and the great people at howlongtobeat.com have the main-story coming out to 51 hours on average; damn. It takes genuine commitment to learn each type of weapon style, what suits you, and the best way to pursue a hunt… and that’s just a commitment I don’t always have the energy to vow.
Instead, Play: Super Smash Brothers Ultimate
It’s truly rare to find a game that actually adapts to your commitment level the way that the new Super Smash Bros Ultimate does. While Monster Hunter Worlds forces you down a path to learn and master the skills of a hunter, Super Smash lets you be able to pick up the game every few months to play your favorite franchise hero while you smack your friends around or log numerous hours measuring your main’s recovery distances in practice for your next competition. It’s truly up to you. I have found myself every once in a while able to log a few hours into the fun sprawling Spirits campaign, a small chunk of time to run through a character’s Classic Campaign, or just a quick few minutes to bust out a few battles on the spirit board. It feels really good to have a game around that gives me that amount of tunes content and actual respect. Special plus: you can still kill a Monster Hunter Dragon for some reason… so it’s pretty much the same thing.
4. God of War
God of War (the 2018 one) shook gaming community legitimately proving that a modern AAA game can be a long story-driven experience with integrity and also be innovative. It took what was a beloved, fun yet shallow hack and slash series and reinvented it with weight, heart, and a whole lot of “BOY”. Plus there is almost no story more moving to me than that of a heart softening of a man that we’ve personally had a part in hardening (plus the video of the game’s director Cory Barlog’s reaction to the reviews still brings me to tears). With a sizable story, tight mechanics, and some of the best graphics on the market, make this game what won as many game-of-the-year awards as it did (and that of my heart). But it was so much commitment… I logged 10 hours and have yet to go back… I miss Boy.
Instead, Play: Viscera Cleanup Detail
But why make the gore and sort out a troubled father/son relationship (one is fine, thank you), when you can clean it up! It sounds counterproductive to trying to get a break from real-life to involve chores, but surprisingly that’s completely wrong. Viscera Cleanup Detail had me, a person who genuinely has to put a very conscious effort to keep any kind of organization, feeling incredible as I got to tidy up and make a murder scene shine. In this game, you’re tasked with being the person who comes in after the traditional videogame hero (Kratos, for example) has been through to clean up the carnage of dead bodies and entrails he left! Armed with your special mop and the yearning desire to see a job well done you get to work and it could not feel any better. Seriously, being an adult is weird.
3. Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
The choice to take The Legend of Zelda into open-world was inspired. Breath of the Wild has a sense of wonder and magic that is rare for any video game these days. While it harkened back to Zelda of yesteryear it actually propelled the gaming series forward into a modern convention with survival mechanics, Ubisoft-like watchtowers, and a sprawling open world that saw the series take its most open-ended approach yet. There is a climbing mechanic that alone opens up exploring in games to an entirely new height with traversing. It made me feel like a kid once more with a sparkle in my eye as I hit the high seas of Wind Waker and anything could happen… But Nintendo in all of these world-renowned accolades and planned DLC forgot something. I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR FREEDOM! I still have one more divine beast and Gannon to go, I’m sure I’ll get there one day!
Instead, Play: Minit
Minit wears its inspiration on its sleeve. It’s is a throwback to the original Legend of Zelda games so it can scratch that itch for you. But it has a catch… each run is only one minute and then you die. What at first sounds like an impossible task takes this awesome Zelda-like experience and chops it up into bite-sized pieces and forces you to look at the game as one large puzzle. These minute runs make this game perfect for sectioning and respecting your time. Being able to even just view a game in bite-sized chunks like that does wonders for my stressy brain. Say you have two minutes after you finished your Belvita-bar breakfast early – Boom, two runs. Slap a nice pixel art style and a fantastic sense of humor and Minit is a game great for a stressed-out adult like you.
2. Fallout 76
The gaming industry in its current state is putting out dozens of long-winded open-world games that soak up time and money. This isn’t all bad things since some games as services actually treat their players with integrity. But with this growing prevalence and proof of concept, it allows other developers the opportunity and excuse to put out their own money-making machine regardless of consumers in mind. You as a player deserve better because each of them is not worth your time. Fallout 76 is not worth your time. Fallout 76 is a sprawling open-world always-online games-as-a-service, and you know when there is that many hyphens things are going to get tricky. This game is Fallout without the quirky interest, storytelling, and respect for the player. Fallout deserves better. You deserve better. I put this on here as a joke and now I’m just getting bitter.
Instead, Play: Literally Anything Else
You could literally play anything else and have your time spent wisely. So I’m going to use this space to plug some awesome pickup and play games! Dead Cells took my love for roguelikes and ravished with me with endlessly deep systems that I can develop over the course of small runs. That can also be said about Rogue Legacy, the game that started my love for the roguelike genre with its quirky character traits and feeling of skill developments. But Ultimately, I want to plug another blood pumping jam of a game that I logged a ridiculous amount of time into that is called Crypt of Necrodancer. Before the surprise Legend of Zelda crossover “Cadence of Hyrule” comes out, go do yourself a favor and go pick up the game that has Nintendo clamoring to jump on the dancefloor.
1. Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 shocked the world with its quality and commitment to realism. This is a game where “fast travel” is even a relative term when you finally use it. The player skins animals in real time, rides horses in real time, and does chores around the camp in real time. It’s stunningly beautiful and realized… and you don’t have time for that SH#*. You have your own chores to do and errands to run. I have to fill out my taxes later today I don’t need to be meandering through the forest in REAL TIME. You know what, if you want simulated chores so much, I have something for you.
Instead, Play: Stardew Valley
How about let’s just take those chores and make that the game! Let’s all stop pretending that we would be outlaws if we lived in the wild west when we know what we would really be – farmers! As I stated before when discussing Viscera Cleanup Detail, it sounds counterproductive to fill your relaxing and free time in a chore-filled world with more chores but there is something so therapeutic about having those messy life chores boiled down to something so simple and satisfying. I may not always want to wash my real dishes and fold my real laundry, but choosing how I want to set up the layout of my newest virtual garden as the next season is hitting is gaming at its peak. Having a game that separates its time and energy in short-lived days makes it an easy short pick up and crunch game (especially if you have a Nintendo Switch handy). It’s true that nothing is more appealing to a stressed-out adult than making the complicated simple and having a pleasant and relaxing time while doing it.
Growing into an adult is difficult; I have gone from one type of gamer entirely (immersive narrative) to another one entirely that is nearly the opposite (insanely difficult pick-up-and-play) and I feel that that was out of necessity. That’s truly why we as gamers are lucky though. In today’s gaming climate there isn’t just one to choose. Things have evolved and developers, indie or not, have found holes to fill and innovations for us as gamers. That’s why even though I may work a few jobs and go to school at the same time, I still have time to game and get that fill. That would be impossible without these amazing developers doing what they do, bringing new types of games to different types of people.