Short Story Rich Games to Fit in During Your Exams: Part 2

Short Story Rich Games to Fit in During Your Exams: Part 2

Stuck in a busy work schedule, wishing you could play as many games as you used to? Find yourself thinking why the hell do they make them so long these days? You came to the right place.

Twice a year, I have to cut back on everything I hold dear to ensure that my final assignments are turned in on time and the exams cleared with a good score. Novels are put away, TV shows and films avoided, and games are a big no-no. At least the long ones. Right on schedule and same as the last semester, here’s a list of three story rich games that you can finish in a matter of hours that will leave you refreshed for more work (well, not really, but it’ll make it easier).

12 Minutes

No, 12 Minutes does not run for 12 minutes. In fact, it runs far longer than I’d like to devote to a game in a single day (5 hours) during exams, so it’s best to split this one across the week.

A regular evening after work goes terribly wrong when a cop breaks into your apartment and arrests your wife. Resistance is futile, as he overpowers you with ease. As the last breath is being choked out of your lungs … you’re walking through the front door again, as it all began. Another experiment in casting Hollywood stars (James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe) in video games, 12 Minutes is a time-loop thriller that’s equal parts provocative and frustrating.

The player dances with their wife by candlelight in their apartment, from 12 Minutes.

Less talking, more solving
Image: Annapurna Interactive

The dialogue is sharply written, and this concise nature leaves little room for emotions beside surprise and shock. Time is the real enemy here; with about 10 minutes given to you in each loop, there’s bound to be less time for emotional impact and more devoted to figuring out the mystery behind it all. The novelty wears off at some point, and then frustration at the repetition necessary to experiment with actions and dialogue sets in. The top-down perspective and prospect of uncovering the mystery lend it some weight, keeping the players invested.

The Fidelio Incident

Love chequered pasts and plane crashes in the middle of nowhere? The Fidelio Incident, best known for being spearheaded by Ken Feldman, former art director of God of War 3, is a walking simulator set in the harsh, frozen Icelandic plains. As Stanley, you must locate your wife Leonore after an unfortunate crash in the desolate landscape. Bits of their mysterious past are revealed through pages from Leonore’s scattered journal that you encounter along the way.

Stanley and Leonore's plane going down over the frozen plains of Iceland.

Mayday
Image: Act 3 Games

The gameplay takes inspiration from Amnesia, where staying too long in the darkness drives the player insane. Here, the dark is replaced by the icy landscape. In The Fidelio Incident, ice crackles across the screen the longer you stay in the freezing winds, until you’re completely overcome by the cold. Refuge can be found near the flaming pieces of debris from the crash and strangely, geysers of steam from pipes.

With a well-acted story unfurling over a breezy couple of hours, this is the perfect game for busy times when you need a quick break without losing your focus for the rest of the week.

Simulacra

Cover art for Simulacra

Image: Kaigan Games

Simulacra is a found-phone horror game where you try to uncover the mysterious disappearance of its owner by reading texts, watching her vlogs and surfing the web. Gameplay is minimalistic and involves simple puzzles such as piecing together images or unscrambling jumbled sentences to recover corrupted data. While I would call it a decent attempt at a horror game from an indie studio, there are still several gaping flaws here. The biggest one is the frequent spelling and grammatical errors, along with scripted calls and videos that do not fit in with the urgent tone of the game. However, it is the type of mindless fun you can have without having to worry about keeping an eye out for subtext and deeper meaning – which makes it perfect for busy times.

Which games do you play when you’re busy and can’t commit to the next Assassin’s Creed? Let us know in the comments below! Follow our Twitter page and keep up-to-date with our latest features and reviews, and don’t forget to check out our latest YouTube video!

Looking for something different? Why not take a look at the top unsolved mysteries in the Skyrim universe?

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