The Best Short Nintendo Switch Games

Highlights

  • The Gardens Between: Engage your brain in this accessible puzzle game that can be completed in just 2.5 hours.
  • Wayward Strand: Experience a touching narrative adventure that can be replayed multiple times, with a completion time of 4 hours and 20 minutes.
  • Florence: Dive into a full picture of a relationship in just 42 minutes through this emotional game that tells the story of love and following dreams.

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Not everyone has the time to dive into a vast, open-world title like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Such titles can take upwards of 100 hours to complete. As great as it is to lose yourself in an incredibly long title like this gradually picking away at huge numbers of sidequests, sometimes you just want a game that’s more digestible, less daunting to approach.

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Nintendo Switch is home to some amazing, satisfying titles that can be completed in just a session or two. These 10 Switch games can all be beaten in under five hours, and yet never compromise on offering a comprehensive experience. These titles aren’t all Switch exclusives, but their pick up and play nature is perfect for the hybrid system. They’ve made the list for their overall quality, not simply their brief running time.

10 The Gardens Between

A Puzzle Game That Won’t Take You Hours To Figure Out

The Gardens Between two children on a pink island surrounded by time boxes

The Gardens Between is a delightful puzzle game that strikes a near perfect balance between thought-provoking and accessible. Each of the twenty-one puzzles require you to engage with your brain and think outside the box, yet they never feel like you need a degree in quantum physics to find the solution.

You don’t directly control the two child protagonists of The Gardens Between. You instead manipulate the flow of time, affecting the movement of the characters as well as different objects and environmental elements on the islands. If you want to give your brain a good workout without exhausting it too much, then take a brief trip to The Gardens Between.

9 Wayward Strand

A Touching Narrative Adventure Made To Be Replayed

Wayward Strand Girl and old lady looking out the window on an airship.

  • Average time to complete the main story (according to
    HowLongToBeat.com
    ): 4 hours, 20 minutes

Wayward Strand is a quaint story about a teenage journalist chronicling the lives of patients who are living out their twilight years on board an airborne hospital. Over the course of a handful of days, you play as Casey as she befriends these patients and tries to record as much of their stories as possible.

Events in the hospital move forward automatically, meaning you need to pick and choose which characters you want to interact with during your limited time with them. While you will undoubtedly connect with all the eccentric characters you do spend time with, there will be others whom you only get to know fleetingly. In the end, Wayward Strand captures that sensation of life moving forward with or without you. How much you make of it is entirely in your hands. Though an individual playthrough is brief, the game is designed to be enjoyed several times over, so you can experience the stories of characters you didn’t get to focus on the first time around.

8 Florence

A Full Picture Of A Relationship Told In Thirty Minutes

Florence and Krish kissing over a pink background in Florence

  • Average time to complete the main story (according to
    HowLongToBeat.com
    ): 0 hours, 42 minutes

Florence may only take you a little over half an hour to complete, but the emotions it manages to elicit are felt more profoundly than in some games that take exponentially longer to beat. Florence tells the story of two twenty-something people falling in and out of love, and how their relationship ultimately helps them follow their dreams.

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The gameplay is composed of simple touch-based minigames that nonetheless convey the behavior and emotions of the characters in an interactive medium. Tender, heartfelt, and a little bitter-sweet, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful way to spend thirty minutes on your Switch.

7 Coffee Talk

An Ensemble Story That Warms The Heart And Soul

Three characters sitting at the counter talking and drinking coffee in Coffee Talk

Just like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold, rainy night, Coffee Talk is a warm, sweet, and wholesome experience that makes you feel a strong sense of coziness. You play a barista who makes late-night warm beverages for a range of interesting characters, who gradually open up about their stories and struggles over the course of several visits.

From the writer who can’t find inspiration to a former member of a band, you’ll form a strong connection with these customers, even if Coffee Talk’s playtime barely touches five hours. The striking pixel art and chill lo-fi soundtrack fills this virtual coffee shop with a soothing atmosphere that is hard to leave behind.

6 Gone Home

The Sleeper Hit That Put Walking Simulators On The Map

An empty pizza box on a coffee table in a messy living room in Gone Home

GoneHomeTagPage

Gone Home

Gone Home puts you in the role of Katie Greenbriar, who comes home to Oregon from a trip abroad to find her family have vanished. An adventure game with a focus on exploration, your task is to find out what happened to them,

Released
August 15, 2013

Developer(s)
Fullbright

Gone Home is a walking simulator on Nintendo Switch that will only take you a couple of hours to complete, but which still manages to beautifully capture the complex dynamics of a family slowly falling apart. You play as Katie Greenbriar, who returns to her family home in Oregon to find it seemingly abandoned, albeit filled with clues and secrets pointing towards hidden truths.

Gone Home is a masterclass in environmental storytelling and building immersion in video games. As you can easily complete the game in a single session, you’ll likely develop a strong attachment to the Greenbriar family and their stories, before experiencing an equally powerful sense of melancholy as you leave it all behind.

5 Unpacking

A Brief, Relaxing, And Engaging Experience

Boxes and belongings being unpacked in a bedroom.

You can tell a lot by the way someone organizes their room. Unpacking lets you express yourself by organizing the personal belongings of its main character across the different properties they lived in and during different periods of their life.

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Sorting out these possessions and displaying them in any configuration you think looks best is immensely satisfying and infuses you with a deep sense of relaxation that few other games can compete with. Unpacking is quiet, reflective, and confident in being exactly what it sets out to be, and it’s not entirely devoid of a narrative either. During your short time with the title, you’ll probably find it rather more thought-provoking than you might have expected.

4 Inside

A Terrific And Haunting Journey Through The Dark

Boy standing in front of a boarded up wall.

Inside

Developer(s)
Playdead

Released
June 29, 2016

Unlike some other games on this list, Inside isn’t the most relaxing short experience you will find on Switch. Instead, the game is designed to put you on edge. It uses its bleak visuals, sparse soundscape, and gruesome game over screens to build a sense of dread that never really lets up across its limited playtime.

Despite this, there is also a beauty to be found hidden underneath the nightmarish exterior of Inside. As you guide the nameless boy through the traps and obstacles of the game’s surreal setting, you’ll attach your own meaning to his journey, based on the breadcrumbs of information left by the game itself.

3 What Remains Of Edith Finch

Embracing Life In The Face Of The Inevitable

Fish being cut next to an image of a crowded street.

What Remains of Edith Finch

Developer(s)
Giant Sparrow

Released
April 25, 2017

What Remains of Edith Finch is another walking simulator, based on the concept of exploring a property to learn the hidden secrets of the family who lived there. You play the titular Edith Finch, as she recollects the tragic ways her family members have passed away across several generations.

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These recollections are told through various gameplay vignettes. Some of these are humorous, some are heartbreaking, but all of them help deliver the game’s core message of valuing how precious life is. What Remains of Edith Finch is a triumph of emotional storytelling in video games, and a powerful way to spend a couple of hours on your Switch.

2 To The Moon

One Small Step, One Giant Leap

To The Moon two silhouettes in a lighthouse under the moon

To the Moon

Developer(s)
Freebird Games

Just about everyone goes through life with some regrets. Imagine if there was a way to go back and make right those missed opportunities. To The Moon explores this idea through two scientists who travel back through the memories of an old man about to pass away, helping him fulfill his lifelong dream of visiting the moon.

What follows is an emotional journey that chronicles a life that has seen its fair share of joy and despair. To The Moon may not have a long playtime, but its message about making the most of a lifetime will stay with you long after the credits roll.

1 A Short Hike

Short And Very, Very Sweet

A Short Hike two birds on a boat docked next to a beach.

A Short Hike bottles up the feeling of a breezy, relaxing vacation, translates that feeling into code, and creates one of the most delightfully pleasant games on Switch. What you do in A Short Hike is entirely up to you. You can climb right to the top of the mountain if you want, or you can explore the island. Chat to other tourists, discover secrets (there are treasure chests hidden around the mountain), play beach volleyball, or just take in the lovely scenery.

A Short Hike gives you the freedom to soak in its sights and sounds however you wish, taking away any of the urgency or stress that can be so prevalent in other games. It’s short, it’s sweet, and it can be enjoyed by just about anybody who owns a Switch.

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