short rpg

most rpgs are too long! i understand why this is the case from a design perspective, but for the most part it ill serves this most poetic of genres. what are your favorite examples of rpgs that emphasize succinct composition? let’s say broadly under 20 hours. a few that spring to mind are the first two dragon quests (10 and 17 hours respectively), panzer dragoon saga (15.5 hours), and especially yasumi matsuno’s masterful and underappreciated guild series 3ds oneshot crimson shroud, a 7 hour game which doubles up on the aurora appeal points by featuring character and npc models rendered in battle as model tabletop figures, and simulated dice you roll to perform actions.



chrono trigger

jeanne d’arc



that game is so wonderful

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i wonder how long get in the car loser will be

costume quest!


Suikoden is 15-20 hours if I remember correctly. I liked it!


breath of fire v. lovely, lovely game and only like, twenty hours long or something like that

[edit because i think i misremembered the actual length]


Lisa is a pretty decent Earthbound-like with quite a lot of recruitable party members for something that’s only 15ish hours.

Seconding Chrono Trigger, I think part of its greatness is it has almost zero fat. So many RPGs could be good if they just erased a lot of grind and filler. Does the 60/70/80 hour tradition endure because it is tradition or do developers worry that people will rebel if they can’t sink hundreds of hours into their game?


Suikoden is a brisk 20 hours. I usually recommend it as a good starter JRPG because of that.

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Radical Dreamers isn’t really an RPG, but it’s set in an RPG world, so. It only takes about 4 hours? to beat all of the scenarios. Okage is about… 20-25-ish hours? Revelations: The Demon Slayer is like, 15-20. (ETA: But play the GameGear fan-translation – the writing is better and GG has better colors vs GBC).

I want to reiterate on Suikoden 1, though. It’s paced really well, probably better than any of the other games I mentioned. It gets going pretty quick, and then it doesn’t stop until it’s over.


Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden

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didn’t realise this was short. i need to play it.

crimson shroud is so good.


SaGa Frontier :eyes:

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I beat Ys Book 1 last week and it took like…4 hours?

(I cheated and looked at maps but I’ve beaten it before…legit.)

It’s very good, I love Ys 1 but only on PC Engine CD-ROM-ROM, the rest can go blow.


for some reason, i really specifically remember finishing suikoden in 19 hours, many years ago

story of thor is an action rpg, and it actually has a fastest completion times high score table, so it was clearly designed with short runs in mind


yeah suikoden is beautifully brisk and so charming, love it

snes dragon quest 3 is about ten hours, ds dq4 fifteen and i revisit both every couple of years for a quick shot of dq without having to put a hundred hours down on 11 again

and yeah most saga stuff

while most of a blind run of romancing saga 1-3 is in the flailing around aimlessly and seeing where it takes you, as soon as you have an agenda the games become very brief

smt1 maybe

surprised earthbound and mother 3 haven’t come up yet


Disclosure upfront: I know Alex Higgins, who made this and am in a collective with him and have exhibited alongside him with this game at a number of events.

But I adore Danger Zone Friends something fierce and it take roughly 2-3 hours to complete. It’s built in RPG Maker with a very distinct, hand-made visual aesthetic. Everything in it was made by Alex and its battle system is distinctive, very well thought out and balanced, and ties into the game’s themes interestingly. And I find it quite witty.


earthbound and mother 3 are both over the 20 mark, but mother 1 is perfect for this list!


Suikoden 2 even has a sidequest that’s all based on you playing through the game quickly but uh, it’d probably be impossible on a first playthrough normally. Not very fun to do either. Still, it’s there! Longer than 1 but still impeccably paced.