Role-playing games are arguably one of the most popular genres in gaming nowadays. Their popularity should come as no surprise — most of the time, the long-anticipated triple-A releases are RPGs, after all. Gamers love big, sprawling open-worlds where they can mold their characters into a build of their choosing.
However, not everybody has the time to complete some of these bloated, lengthy games. Most of the popular titles take somewhere between 50-100 hours, and players who aren’t able to devote lengthy chunks of their days to gaming might feel like they’re missing out on it. Thankfully, there are quite a few solid RPG titles that do not require fans to take time off to complete.
10 The Outer Worlds
This is a masterfully crafted RPG game developed by Obsidian Entertainment, the same group responsible for Fallout: New Vegas, hailed by many gamers as the best Fallout game ever made. Much like the Fallout games, The Outer Worlds is characterized by well-written dialogue, an interesting game world, and solid RPG mechanics.
As opposed to Fallout: New Vegas, The Outer Worlds doesn’t take nearly 60 hours to play through the whole game. Players will only need 12.5 hours to blast through the main story, and only around 25 hours to experience most of the additional content alongside the main quest.
9 The Last Story
The Last Story is, quite fittingly, one of the last big titles released on the Nintendo Wii. smooth-playing action JRPG with real-time combat that plays very well to this day, if one is willing to look past the graphics that were outdated even at the time of The Last Story’s release.
On average, it takes gamers 21 hours to beat The Last Story, but it can be extended by a couple of hours to experience most of the side content in the title.
8 South Park: The Stick Of Truth
There aren’t many people in the world who haven’t at least heard of Trey Parker’s and Matt Stone’s satire cartoon, South Park. With 24 seasons already released, the series has a spot alongside The Simpsons among America’s longest-running animated sitcoms. The Stick of Truth is a turn-based role-playing game that preserves the humor and characters that fans of the TV show know and love.
It isn’t a knock-off title or a poor game, by any means. Developed by Obsidian, the creators of The Outer Worlds and Fallout: New Vegas, The Stick of Truth knows how to draw players in without overstaying its welcome. In just 15 hours, players will easily get through the main story while exploring a lot of the side content along the way.
7 Mass Effect
The first Mass Effect may have had its share of issues, such as the clunky combat mechanics and frequent lagging, but it is the game that laid the foundation for what was to become one of the greatest RPG series of all time. With Mass Effect: Legendary Edition just around the corner, the remake may be the perfect occasion for fans to revisit the first game with updated gameplay and graphics.
Besides being the first game in the saga, 2008’s Mass Effect is also its shortest entry. It took only 17 hours for most players to beat the main story, and those with enough time on their hands to explore most of its side missions were in for a 30-hour-long playthrough.
Back when it was released in 2004, Fable was considered to be somewhat of a revolutionary game. This is because it was the first RPG to implement a system where the player’s choices had a visible impact on the main character’s appearance and how he is perceived by the NPCs. Should gamer’s choose to make morally dubious choices, the character would take on a more devilish appearance, with horns growing out of his forehead, while the more benevolent players would see their character slowly turn into an angel-like creature.
It’s also a very short game. The vast majority of players managed to get through the main story in just under 13 hours, but exploring some side content would extend that to 19 hours, which is still beatable in one weekend.
Independent games are often much shorter than their triple-A counterparts. This is mostly because their developers need to stick to much tighter budgets when creating the titles, but also because usually, they have a much more narrow vision and a clear idea of how to go about it. The unexpected Steam hit of 2015 tells a story of a boy who accidentally fell into a mysterious underworld and has to find his way back home.
Undertale is even shorter than most titles on this list, with a playthrough taking anywhere from 5 to 7 hours. Players can extend that to around 15 hours fairly easily, though, should they stick around and explore every nook and cranny of the underworld.
4 Child Of Light
Many Metroidvania games have a reputation for being deceptively long, with hidden rooms and secret areas radically extending the playtime in the majority of cases. Ubisoft’s Child of Light is not one of those Metroidvanias, though. It retains the gameplay mechanics of its genre, but it doesn’t go on for dozens of hours, like many titles of its kind.
With a beautiful art style and a magnificent soundtrack, Child of Light is a wonderful experience that can be beaten in just over 11 hours. Getting to see all of the content in the game won’t take much longer, and experienced completionists will 100% the game in less than 15 hours.
3 Parasite Eve
At first glance, Parasite Eve doesn’t look like an RPG at all, with its graphics, gameplay, and overall atmosphere more reminiscent of the early Resident Evil titles. It is very much a role-playing game, though, with complex character development, well-developed weapons, and an inventory system that provides that feeling of progression known and loved by all RPG fans.
Parasite Eve is a full-blown RPG experience, and its main story can be beaten in just under 10 hours! Not often do triple-A titles get away with such short playtimes, but this one is so well-rounded and complete, that players had no choice but to fall in love with it back in 1998, when it officially released on the PS1.
2 Alpha Protocol
A lot of people may not have even heard of Alpha Protocol. It launched in 2010, and didn’t quite generate the hype that its publishers were hoping for. This does not mean that it’s a bad game, by any means. If anything, it was actually released ahead of its time! A spy-centered action-RPG set in the near future, it is full of brilliant gameplay and meaningful dialogues that actually have an effect on the story.
It was developed by Obsidian Entertainment, a team that is particularly adept at creating complete RPGs that do not take too long to beat. Players will need around 14-18 hours to finish Alpha Protocol, depending on how much time they spend on uncovering all of its side features.
1 Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger is a JRPG praised by many players and game reviewers as one of the best role-playing games of all time. It was released in March of 1995 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and it blew people away by its intricate story, the sheer depth of role-playing elements, and a time-travel system that modern games wouldn’t even dare to explore.
At around 20 hours long, Chrono Trigger is one of the shortest JRPGs out there, and if you still haven’t tried it in 2021, you owe it to yourself to give it a shot.