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2024 is about to get busy, so play these short 2023 games while you still can

At the start of the year, I always like playing through shorter games. I know that in just a few weeks, a nonstop flurry of game launches will occupy all my time, so I want to fit in as many as possible while I can. Shorter games will have an important place this year as chasers between AAA releases, many of which seem to be lengthy RPGs this year.

Last year had plenty of hidden gems that you probably haven’t played yet, so if you have a couple of hours to spare this year in-between the releases of games like Final Fantasy VII Rebirth and Dragon’s Dogma 2, then consider checking any of the following seven games out. We’ve also listed how long it should take you to beat each one based on stats from HowLongToBeat.

Sonic Superstars

Sonic appears in his water form in Sonic Superstars.
Sega

How long to beat: 5 hours

The first game I’ve beaten in 2024 is Sonic Superstars. Even though I gave Sonic Frontiers a low score, I don’t hate Sega’s iconic blue hedgehog. In fact, if you’re tired of Super Mario Bros. Wonder and are just looking for a short, yet satisfying platformer to play on your Switch, running through one of Sonic Superstars’ stages as Sonic, Knuckles, Tails, or Amy is an entertaining way to spend some time. Although it stops and starts its fast-paced platforming with level gimmicks and special stage portals too often, at its best, Sonic Superstars lives up to the legacy of titles like Sonic Mania. It features co-op as well, so you can play with your kids or other loved ones.

Sonic Superstars is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch.

Venba

Venba, Paavaran, and Kavin enjoy dinner together.
Visai Games

How long to beat: 1.5 hours

While it’s one of the shortest games on this list, Venba was also one of the best games of 2023. Anyone who comes from a family of immigrants will identify with some part of this brief, yet captivating story about keeping culture alive across generations through elements that transcend language, like cooking. For those who love a compelling narrative-focused indie game, Venba is a feature-length game certainly worth squeezing in when you have a moment.

Venba is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch, and it’s part of the Xbox Game Pass game catalog.

The Making of Karateka

A screenshot from The Making of Karateka.
Digital Eclipse

How long to beat: 4.5 hours

As an interactive documentary about the creation of one of the most influential Apple II games ever, The Making of Karateka shares a lot of similarities with a museum exhibit you’d visit in person. Namely, you can spend as much or as little time there as you want. The Making of Karateka’s story will still be compelling to those who only spend a couple of hours skimming each timeline. This setup makes it easy to pick up and put down at a moment’s notice. If you find your appetite whetted, you can then spend more time coming through each and every document and game build that The Making of Karateka contains.

The Making of Karateka is available now for PC, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch.

Cocoon

An alien structure appears in Cocoon.
Annapurna Interactive

How long to beat: 5 hours

Many games attempt to live up to legacy indies like Limbo and Inside, but few truly have met those expectations. Cocoon, which comes from the lead gameplay designer of those classics, Jeppe Carlsen, is one of the few games that does. It’s a short, but mind-bending puzzler where you primarily push around orbs. These orbs contain worlds that players can then jump between, and that leads to Cocoon’s most striking moments. If you want to feel smart and have your mind blown by some creative puzzles, then Cocoon is worth its brief time investment.

Cocoon is available for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch. Like Venba, it’s included in Xbox Game Pass.

Jusant

The player hangs from a cliffside in Jusant
Don't Nod

How long to beat: 4.5 hours

Climbing is a mechanic present in many video games, but few make doing so as intricate an experience as Jusant. This adventure is about scaling a massive tower in a world where water has disappeared. An engrossing, dialogue-free story, Jusant is more about the journey than the destination. You get the hang of using the controller’s triggers to grip any handholds you can find as you climb up. It also features the most impressive rope physics I’ve seen in a game since The Last of Us Part II, and they actually come into play for a lot of platforming challenges in this game. If you’re looking for a meditative game to play between hectic RPGs. Jusant is an excellent choice.

Jusant is available now for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S, and is part of Xbox Game Pass.

Videoverse

Emmett talks to a friend through video chat in Videoverse.
Kinmoku

How long to beat: 5 hours

Another short narrative-focused experience that will make you nostalgic and emotional during brief interludes between 2024’s must-play games, Videoverse is an underrated gem. An ode to early internet forums and Miiverse, Kinmoku’s Videoverse is also a poignant eulogy for pre-Elon Twitter. It asks players to explore and experience an old-school social network free of all the baggage platforms like Facebook and X currently carry. I expect this game will remain timely throughout 2024.

Videoverse is available now for PC.

A Highland Song

Moira climbs a wall in A Highland Song.
Inkle

How long to beat: 3.5 hours

As a December 2023 release, you might not even know about A Highland Song, but it’s one of the best indie games of last year. A coming-of-age journey about a young girl navigating through the Scottish Highlands, A Highland Song is a beautiful experience that could potentially provide some relief for you during 2024’s more hectic moments.  Although it’s meant to be replayed, even if you only go through the three-and-a-half-hour journey once, you’ll find that it’s an entertaining musical platform that gives some of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s mechanics a fresh feeling by presenting them from a 2D perspective.

A Highland Song is available now for PC and Nintendo Switch.

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Tomas Franzese
Gaming Staff Writer
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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