I have just finished Deathloop on Xbox Game Pass. You may have already seen that I quite liked it – it’s stylish, sassy, compelling, and brings you into its world with little faff. It’s a lean experience; nowhere near as complex and unwieldy as the Dishonored series. And it takes you nowhere near long to complete, either. I think I wrapped up the Colt/Julianna storyline in a nice, easy 20 hours. Time enough to chew on it, digest the bits I enjoyed, and move on (Beacon Pines, I’m coming for you next).
As I downloaded this next quick completion, I read in Play Magazine that the upcoming alternate history jaunt of A Plague Tale: Requiem will clock in at under 20 hours, with Asobo Studio’s lead level designer Kevin Pinson noting that the game will run about 15-18 hours, depending on how you play, with ‘no filler content’ padding it out. As I read this, my internal monologue provokes that timeless Gordon Ramsey quote: “Finally, some good fucking food.”
I played A Plague Tale: Requiem at Gamescom, and I loved it. The way it combines stealth with tactical movement, light puzzling with the grim reality of surviving in a world inundated with the plague (oh, wait) all comes together in this tight, intentional game that knows exactly where it’s going. And how it wants to get there.
It’s a Day One arrival on Xbox Game Pass, and you’ll probably be able to finish it off in a week, if you only play a few hours a night. My Gamescom demo was taken wholesale from somewhere towards the middle of the game, and whilst it was challenging, I felt a proper sense of progression in my brief hands-on. In a world of Assassin’s Creed games that take 200+ hours to beat, I find the promise of short games simply electrifying – especially if I get to try them out and finish them off as part of my subscription(s), at no additional fee.
Don’t get me wrong; I love long games. I will gladly sink 200 hours into Nioh – or Wo Long next, I suppose – and I’ve probably got close to 1000 hours overall in Destiny over the course of its lifetime (I’m sorry). But in an age where there are myriad service games vying for my attention and the threat of big blockbuster bastards like God of War: Ragnarok on the horizon, I like these little games that can come along in the middle and be something of a ‘palette cleanser’ before the next banquet of an RPG or something arrives.
I said this more or less word for word in my Tunic review earlier this year – another Game Pass gem – and I’ve been proved right time and again over the past 12 months with the likes of Garden Story, Unpacking, and Sable. Each of these games can be wrapped up in under 20 hours – maybe even under 10, in some cases – giving you a nice little break from whatever battle pass you’re bashing your head against that week.
Many of the VG247 staff have lives outside of games, as I’m sure our readers do (in most cases, at least). Whether it’s partners, children, jobs, community service, deviant hobbies or whatever else, sometimes it’s just nice to wrap a game up in an evening or two, instead of a couple of months. For us games media types, especially, that are often corralled into dumping 80 hours of our lives into a game in the week before it launches, getting to waltz through Chicory: A Colorful Tale via PS Plus in under 10 hours feels like a breath of fresh air.
Xbox seems like it knows we’re starting to value our time more, too; recently, Microsoft rolled out an update on the PC Xbox app that integrates average playtime aggregator HowLongToBeat. The tool (which shows you how long the main story, main story and extras, full game competition, and any other style of completion takes for the average player) is one of the most successful gaming sites out there – merging it with the Xbox/Game Pass app on PC shows Microsoft knows what your criteria may be when searching for new things to try, and is cutting out the (browser-based) middle man.
It’s been a banner year for the Xbox and PlayStation subscription services, and whilst I’m happy to see the big hitters like Deathloop, Grounded, Returnal, and Hitman prop up the service, I’m just as enthused about all the little games doing the work to keep me coming back for more, time and time again.
Note from the Editor (Tom): 20 hours isn’t short. That’s about two months of my gaming time. Roll on the two-hour video game!