Play of this year's lists tend to be dominated by large AAA titles. They are the games that everyone plays, so it makes sense that they are widespread. But 2018 had many incredible indie games that made a big impact – while still in less than 10 hours.
Return of Obra Dinn and Celeste each takes about eight hours to complete. Donut County is only two hours long. Florence is a fast and perfect 40 minute game. These four games can be completed at the same time as it would take to get through just the most important story of God of War . Plus many of them are Switch or mobile games, making it easy to slip in a few rounds of Into the Breach or Minit during lunch.
The smallest commitment stands out in a year when one of the biggest game trends was open-minded. There is nothing wrong with big games ̵
These indie games play the same today as they will next year or the following year. It's not always the case with modern games, between the creep of early access and the increasing frequency of older games getting radical updates. It is harder than ever to judge games on an annual basis without adding stars to the nominations.
But that's not the only thing these games have to go for them. Many of them make their briefness a force by using gameplay to emphasize the arches. In Florence you bubble text together as a metaphor to get to know someone. The more you do, the easier it becomes – just like the real process of building intimacy.
Donut County has the player swallowing the community piece so that another community can take its place – an expanded and thoughtful metaphor for gentrification. Celeste is an exercise in anxiety, both in plot and in play. But it is not difficult to be difficult; It's difficult because that's what Madeline's arc of character requires.
The core design of all these games is not about prolonging the lifetime, so history can only be the story. The story doesn't have to stretch to accommodate detours or side quests, so they can have an intimacy that bigger games fail to handle. See the video above to learn more about why Indie games were so big this year.