Top 10 short action RPGs for busy adults

I don’t know about you, but there are times when starting a brand new RPG can be intimidating, especially when I know that my schedule is going to get real busy. 

Life can get hectic at times.

But a busy adult got to learn to relax too. And my preferred method to relax is to play some RPGs. 

In times like these, I prefer to get my hands on shorter strategy RPGs that I can get through in under 30 hours. 

Here’re my top 10 short strategy RPGs, arranged by time to complete:

Top 10 short action RPGs for busy adults

1) Half Minute Hero 

  • Time to complete: ~5 hours
  • Platform: Playstation Portable, PS Vita, Xbox

Now, if you’re really hard on time, but still want to slip some game time into your schedule, this is a fun one to consider. 

Half-Minute Hero, as its name suggests, features 30 second game runs in which you are to fight to save the world. There are several modes with a number of campaigns per mode for a total of about 120 stages, hence it still takes about 8 hours to complete the game.

And oh, Half-Minute Hero features 8-bit graphics, but there are nice graphics the interspace game runs which help to build on the story.

2) Breath of Death VII 

  • Time to complete: ~5 hours
  • Platform: Steam, PC, Xbox

Breath of Death VII is a 2D RPG that is more of a parody that trolls other RPGs. There are no Breath of Death I – VI, you have Dem Bones in your party and the dialogue is constantly making fun of RPGs. 

In short, the game makes fun of RPG tropes while delivering a great playing experience.

You’ll control a party of undead heroes with the objective of saving the world in this 8-bit styled RPG. Look out for random self-deprecating jokes like when your party remarks about how short the games is and whether it was worth its price, ha!

For what it offers, Breath of Death VII is really affordable. At the time of writing, you can get it alongside Cthulhu Saves the World as a bundle on Steam for under $5.

3) Bastion

  • Time to complete: ~6 hours
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, Steam, PC, Playstation, Xbox, Mobile

Bastion is another visually pleasing game with over 40 hand painted environments to explore. This game was Supergiant Games’ first action RPG. The same company developed Hades, the popular rougelike game as well.

You play as The Kid, a survivor of the Calamity. Kid needs to collect rock shards to power the Bastion, and hopefully prevent the Calamity. 

The story is strong with this title and the art is beautiful:

4) Undertale

  • Time to complete: ~6.5 hours
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation, Xbox

What if you fell into the underground?

In Undertale, you have to fight your way to get back out.

You play a child who falls into the Underground that is populated by monsters which you can choose to either fight or pacify. Your choices affect the final outcome.

Filled with some pretty absurd minigames, and cleverly written dialogue, Undertale is quite the short RPG. You can finish the game in just 6.5 hours. 

If you like a humorous game with a retro arcade vibe, Undertale should be on your list.

It’s also cool to note that Undertale was developed by a single indie developer, Tony Fox. A follow up game, Deltarune was released by Fox in 2019.

5) Child of Light

  • Time to complete: ~11 hours
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, Steam, PC, Playstation, Xbox.

If visuals are important in your enjoyment of RPGs, Child of Light will not disappoint. 

Child of Light is a side-scrolling video game featuring stunningly beautiful background visuals, filled with poetic dialogue that is sprinkled with humor. You play Aurora, a young princess who has to find her way back to her world.

“Beware the night, Child of Light”

6) Final Fantasy

  • Time to complete: ~11 hours
  • Platform: NES. Now remastered for Nintendo Switch, Steam and PS4

Final Fantasy is another classical RPG that most of us have never played. However, we now have the chance to enjoy these classic games with the latest Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster!

The original Final Fantasy offers 5 game modes and takes about 11 hours to complete. You play as a party of young Warriors of Light who set out to defeat Chaos. 

Who’d think that this 2D pixel art RPG could evolve into a series of beautiful games like Final Fantasy VII, X and more!

This however reminds me that I had missed the pre-sale of the remastered Final Fantasy I – VI collection on Nintendo Switch, and am now camping for a copy from my local retailer.

7) Dragon Quest II

  • Time to complete: ~12 hours
  • Platform: Super Nintendo, NES. Now also on Nintendo Switch and Playstation

The Dragon Quest series is one of the OG RPGs that has shaped the development of RPG games over the years.

The format of all Dragon Quest series are similar – you play as a Hero who sets out to save the land with your party of heroes. Along your journey, you’ll encounter monsters randomly, including the legendary Slime which although weak, are plentiful.

Dragon Quest II was first released for the NES way back in 1987!

It has been ported for the Nintendo Switch and PS4 lately and the ported version looks way nicer: 

I’ve never played the original on NES, but many have commented that the updated version is way more user friendly. 

Although Dragon Quest II was one of the longer RPGs when it was released, it is considered short in today’s RPG scene. For context, the latest Dragon Quest XI takes about 50+ hours to complete.

8) Chrono Trigger

  • Time to complete: ~15 hours
  • Platform: Super Nintendo, Nintendo DS, Playstation, PC

Chrono Trigger is another classic that is often hailed as the best RPG game ever made.

It offers a unique game system that lets you change the sequence of game events that will alter the ending. While the game can be completed in 15 hours, you can keep at it endlessly if you wish to explore the depth of the game. 

When it was first released, Chrono Trigger incorporated many interesting gameplay elements that made the game a success. Its Active Time Battle system and Tech system added depth to the battles, making it more fun for players.

As mentioned above, there are multiple endings. And you can unlock a New Game Plus option where you can retain your character’s levels and resources when you start a new game. This allows you to explore new endings without having to spend too much time grinding.

9) Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

  • Time to complete: ~16 hours
  • Platform: Playstation Portable, now remastered for Playstation, Nintendo Switch, XBox and Steam

Confession: I have a bad habit of not completing games. And this was the very first game I had ever completed, which makes it memorable for me personally. 

Crisis Core is a prelude to the main Final Fantasy VII plot. Here, you play Zack as a young SOLDIER who works under Angeal Hewley and Sephiroth. Along the way, you also learn how Zack came to befriend a flower seller named Aerith Gainsborough and the young infantryman, Cloud Strife. You’ll also learn about the legacy of the infamous Buster Sword.

In 2022, Crisis Core was remastered for Playstation, Nintendo Switch, XBox and Steam as CRISIS CORE – FINAL FANTASY VII – REUNION. The cutscenes look amazing and the soundtrack still hits hard. This game is definitely also under my list of games to play next:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65lCz22aopY

10) Suikoden 

  • Time to complete: ~20.5 hours
  • Platform: Playstation, Sega Saturn. The remastered version is set to be released in 2023 on Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation, Xbox.

Suikoden is a classic RPG that every RPG gamer should experience. 

You play as the son of a general who seeks out the 108 Stars of Destiny in order to fight against the corrupt sovereign state and bring peace to the land. The game is very loosely based on Water Margin, a Chinese novel.

What makes this game fun is its large repertoire of characters you can use in battle. 

This game was first released in 1996, but the remastered version of Suikoden I and II is set to be released in 2023 on most platforms. And early previews look good:

The reason it’s not on the top of this list is because at 20.5 hours to completion, its length is bordering on ‘short’. However, if you have a weekend to game away, this is the perfect title for the weekend.

You can still game even when life gets hectic!

I know as adults, life can get in the way of gaming. But be sure to take some time off to relax. 

I’ve shared my pick of the top 10 short action RPGs for busy adults here. There are so many more short action RPGs out there, so do let me know if you enjoyed these games/ And, share your pick too!

Remember to have fun!


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