It’s an incredible feeling when you’re fully immersed in an open world game. Whether it’s the vast wild west or sprawling magical worlds, there’s so much to take in and explore and interact with. This year will see the arrival of even more exciting new ones to play in as well, from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom to Starfield. But jumping into a new open world game often requires you to set aside an abundance of time to work through it, and if you don’t have 50 hours to devote to a new save, it helps to know about shorter open world games to play that won’t take up too much of your time.
In this list, we’ve collected the top 12 shortest open world games, according to How Long to Beat, to help you find something quick to get through. To complete their main stories, these games range from a little over an hour long to around seven hours. They offer a wide variety of experiences as well, from short and sweet indies to stellar action-packed expansions for games you already know and love. Starting from the shortest open world game on How Long to Beat’s site, here’s our list of the 12 shortest open world games to play in 2023.
- Time to beat: 1h 20m, on average, for the Main Story
- Platforms: Available on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita (Note: sadly not on PS Store)
If you’ve got an hour to kill and are looking for something simple to pass the time, look no further than Proteus. This game just requires you to roam around, listen to the sounds of the world around you, and watch the season’s change. Our review called it a, “a joyous experiment in exploration from start to finish – even if it is a very, very short-lived one.” They also explain that there’s “a beauty in Proteus’ unmatched simplicity,” which makes it a great fit for those who just want to sit back, relax, and take in its pixelated scenery. It’ll only take you a little over an hour to complete as well.
- Time to beat: 1h 29m, on average, for the Main Story
- Platforms: Available on PC
In a similar vein of simple (and very, very short) open world games, Copoka is a little indie that takes you on a journey where you play as a bird flying around a city. You can also listen in on the conversations unfolding in the city below, but it’s mainly for flying around and exploring. Its main story only takes around an hour and a half to complete, or two hours if you feel like completing it in full, so you can easily cross it off your list in an evening.
From playing a bird to playing a lynx, Shelter 2 has you playing as a mother lynx trying to protect her babies in the snowy wilderness. It boasts a lovely art style and a big open world to roam around in, with a main story that’ll take you about two hours to complete. If you want to be a completionist with it, though, it takes (on average) upwards of 13 hours to accomplish everything in it.
Have you ever wanted to be a photographer for dogs? I mean, who wouldn’t want to be? And thankfully, Pupperazzi gives you the opportunity to do just that. Roam around its open world and take pictures of all the sweet pups that you come across while building your career along the way. It’s a quick play as well, only taking a little over two hours on average to finish its main story, so you can easily spend an evening perfecting your photography skills while petting cute dogs. Perfect, right?
And, if you feel like leaving the world of dog photography behind, perhaps you’ll be interested in a game like Sludge Life, where you play as a tagger named Ghost. In this game, your open world playground is a polluted island that’s yours to explore and make a name for yourself. The main story will only take around two and a half hours to complete, but if you feel like completing all that Sludge Life has to offer, it’ll take you close to five hours.
For when you get tired of Sludge Life’s pollution, you can find fresher air in Grow Home. This is a sweet and short little game where you play as a robot named BUD (which stands for Botanical Utility Droid) who’s on a mission to save his home planet. Upon release, our review stated that it’s “not particularly long, or dense, or even deep,” but it’s “completely comfortable in its own skin, and that makes it a joy to play.” It won’t take too terribly long to complete, either, as the main story runs for a little over two and a half hours, while getting 100% will take you about eight hours.
- Time to beat: 3h 12m, on average, for the Main Story
- Platforms: Available on PC
If you long to explore more planets, Lost Nova follows a young adventurer named Mia who crash lands on an alien planet and finds her ship in need of repair. Throughout the game, you’ll explore the planet, make new friends, and salvage materials, craft, and trade to repair your ship. To complete the main story, you’ll need just over three hours, and if you want to see all that Lost Nova has to offer, it’ll take you around seven hours.
If adorable characters win you over easily, you’re sure to love the titular Lil Gator from Lil Gator Game. This ridiculously cute adventure game sees you roaming around and exploring a small island where you can make new friends and beat up cardboard baddies that get in your way. It was even our Game of the Month on IGN Plus in March! It’ll only take you around three and a half hours to complete the main story, but if you feel like going for a full 100% playthrough, it’ll take you a little over five hours.
If you crave an open world game with a lot more action than Lil Gator Game, look no further than Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. This standalone expansion for Far Cry 3 is one wild ride, with our review at the time explaining that, “Nobody in their right mind would create something as wonderfully absurd as Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon – so I’m glad someone in charge at Ubisoft is at least a little nuts.” In this game, play as Sergeant Rex “Power” Colt and save the world. It’ll take you just over four and a half hours for the main story and roughly nine hours to complete everything.
While not as action-heavy as Far Cry, No Straight Roads: Encore Edition still offers some exciting gameplay. This little game drops you into Vinyl City, where you’ll form a rock band to take down the EDM Empire, NSR. It also features rhythm-infused combat that’ll keep you on your toes as you battle each district’s boss. The main story will take you around five hours to complete, and going all-in on this battle of the bands for 100% completion will take you around 24 hours.
In keeping with the action genre, Retro City Rampage DX has plenty to offer but in 8-BIT form. This game parodies games like the Grand Theft Auto series and comes complete with a full Story Mode, over 60 missions, over 40 arcade challenges, and much more. It’s a big world to explore, but won’t take up too much of your time. The main story only takes around five and a half hours, while 100% completion will take around eighteen and a half hours.
- Time to beat: 7h 11m, on average, for the Main Story
- Platforms: Available on PlayStation 4
This remake of 2005’s Shadow of the Colossus is a fantastic, must-play open world game for those wanting something short and thrilling to dig into. It was awarded a 9.7 from us upon release, with our reviewer calling it “outstanding” thanks to “improved controls, performance, and sheer graphical beauty.” Its main story will only take you just over seven hours to complete, but if you want to go in for a full completionist playthrough, it’ll take you roughly twenty six hours.
Best Reviewed Short Open World Games
While it’s rare for games to reach as high as Shadow of the Colossus’ 9.7, there are other games on this list that still earned high review scores. Proteus, for instance, earned an 8.5 from us and was praised as “a beautiful getaway from gaming traditions.” Grow Home is another that earned an 8.8 due to its “charming personality, feel-good physics, and satisfying controls”.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon also earned high praise from us in the form of an 8, with our reviewer calling it “a nutty, hilarious shooter you deserve to play.” The expansion remains one of the best Far Cry games and beloved in the franchise as well, making it well worth your time to play.
Hannah Hoolihan is a freelance writer who works with the Guides and Commerce teams here at IGN.