I know, I know, 'game length'? Again?
It is a pretty common subject but I thought it was a nice time to get back to it seeing how Jason Schreier's recent twit light up a fire with people getting somewhat angry at his comment and even granting a response from beloved voice actor star Troy Baker.
When asked about what sparked this comment, Jason pointed out that the latest Naughty Dog smash hit, The Last of Us Part II was simply too long. A quick search over at How Long To Beat puts the fungal post-apocalyptic game in between the 25-35 hour mark, not terribly long but a stretch from the first game's 17-20ish hours length.
Disclaimer: I won't be mentioning any spoilers in this post and I would love the comment section to stay that way too or at least properly tagged as such.
This takes us into the common topic of game length that has been talked about a lot of times and must of us have a pretty definitive stand into the subject.
Personally, I would have said the same thing as Mr. Schreier any day of the week BUT it was once I read what he felt like where perfectly long games. Someone in twitter asked him to give examples of games that are appropriately long. Jason said:
Control is pretty close to the perfect length. Disco Elysium is the perfect length. Hollow Knight is the perfect length.
This is what gave me pause. Because I've played two of the three games mentioned here (Disco Elysium still sits in my wishlist) and their length are widely different. Control is a 20-something hour long game while Hollow Knight took me close to 50 hours and I never made it to the true ending. Keep in mind that 50 hours is a lot more than the 25-35 hours TLOUpt2 takes… so what gives?
I feel this clearly leads us into the game's content… and this is where subjectivity comes into place! That dreaded subjectivity. While I initially agreed with Jason Shcreier's comments… I don't agree that Control is the perfect length, I wanted a few more hours with that game (which is a compliment) and felt that Hollow Knight was stretching a bit thin by the 40 hour mark. At the same time, there are a way shorter experiences that I feel are perfect for a game.
It boils down to content and what you get out of it. I love a short game that has a set tone/mood and can be revisited in a day without taking too much time from your ever growing list of unplayed games. Something like watching your favorite film you've seen a thousand times over, sitting comfortably with your favorite short game is as rewarding as a long sessions with a meaty RPG! Sometimes a stormy night really puts me in the mood to take two hours off and rediscover the secrets of an empty house in Gone Home… or a lazy Sunday morning makes me want to experience the life affirming beauty of Journey all over again.
But recently I was giggling like a child while playing the original Final Fantasy VII and I wanted nothing more than just keep playing this classic gem. FFVII took me 50 hours to beat and I honestly can't imagine that game's content condensed into a shorter experience, there is undoubtedly some filler content but I wouldn't change a single thing simply because the overarching arc of a big adventure of cosmic proportions couldn't work, imo, without the dozen's of hours wandering around the world and traveling with your pack of friendly NPCs! Final Fantasy is a long ass game… but it needs to be that long.
Bottom line? I don't want shorter games… I want games exactly the lengthy they should be.
What about you? Do you feel like games have a lot of content that we would all be better off without? Do you enjoy taking the extra time to mess around? Are you tired of everything taking over 30 hours to complete? Let's talk about it!
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