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LIST: Long video games to play when you want to drown out reality

By Kara Santos Published May 31, 2022 4:41 pm

The virtual worlds of video games offer a distraction from a reality filled with deadlines, stress, and responsibilities. In a world filled with so much uncertainty, playing games can help you relax and give you a semblance of control over your life. 

For gamers looking for a time sink to drown out the real world, we’ve rounded up a few games that require a long time to complete. While gamers have different playstyles, the estimated total playtime is based on averages compiled by HowLongtoBeat, a website that collects game completion data.

This list excludes games that constantly get updates like MMORPGs and focuses mostly on single-player narrative games, not considering replays.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Wii U

For Nintendo players looking for a game to escape to for an extended period of time, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild beckons. Similar to the original 1986 The Legend of Zelda game, the action-adventure game released in 2017 gives players the freedom to explore the world freely with very little instruction.

As Link, you embark on odd quests, explore hidden temples, seek out collectibles and solve puzzles. The world is unstructured and designed to encourage exploration and experimentation. 

While the main story quest, which can be completed in a nonlinear fashion, takes about 50 hours to beat, with all the extras, the game can suck up closer to a hundred hours of your time. If you’re aiming to max the game and do everything you can possibly do, game completion will be closer to 187 hours.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons 

Platforms: Nintendo Switch

It’s hard to determine the actual playtime of the social simulation game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The game is jam-packed with recurring jobs to complete so you can keep coming back, and has had a couple of major updates from Nintendo since it was first released with additional content. 

Those determined to complete all of the game's base content, can expect to spend over 60 hours just for the main story. There is an ending in Animal Crossing and the credits do roll. However, gamers can continue to play Animal Crossing any way they like beyond the main story and  decide when it's time to end. For those who want to achieve a 100 percent completion rate, expect to spend as much as 377 hours for all the extras. 

Hades

Platforms: macOS, Windows, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, XSXS

Hades is a giant indie roguelike action dungeon crawler where players control Zagreus, the son of Hades as he attempts to escape from the Underworld to reach Mount Olympus, aided by boons bestowed upon him by Olympians. There may be only four levels in the game, but the unique gameplay loop where you permanently get stronger and unlock new skills and items makes the game engaging since no two runs are ever the same. When focusing on the main objectives, Hades main story is roughly a little over 20 hours long. However, breaking out once is far from the end of the game.

The credits will only roll after you’ve completed 10 successful breakout attempts. That unlocks a possible path to the story's epilogue, which involves even more time-consuming runs to the surface to farm materials to upgrade all weapon aspects and collect nectar needed to raise your affinity with Olympians, which results in interesting dialogue and story points. 

Completing everything in the game can take anywhere between 90 and 100 hours of gameplay, but this could extend to over 150 hours if you like to take your time and want to collect all the possible trophies.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Platforms: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Switch, PC

Skyrim is one of the most infamous open-world video games that just never seems to end. In fact, some gamers, including a 90-year old granddad have been playing Skryim since it launched in 2011 and the game is still going strong with re-releases on current gen platforms.

The game has a massive area to explore right from the start, with guilds to join, villagers to help with side quests, hidden dungeons to explore, skills to level up, and loads more. There’s also the area of Dragonborn, where you can explore the locales of Morrowind and Solstheim. 

While the main story campaign takes most people around 33 hours to complete from start to finish, this means strictly sticking to the main questline and not deviating from that path. For most people who play open-world RPGs and easily get distracted, Skyrim could easily consume over a hundred hours of your time. Completionists can expect to spend about 232 hours or more just to fully 100 percent the game.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch 

Are you a fan of The Witcher series on Netflix? You might want to try playing The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, to get a better backstory. In the game, you play as Geralt, working to retrace the steps of Ciri by visiting various leads and battling monsters along the way.

Although The Witcher 3’s main story clocks in at roughly 50 hours, most players are going to invest a lot more time just wandering through the bustling cities, war-ravaged swamps, dense forests and sprawling caves as they explore the vast open world known as The Continent. 

It’ll take gamers about 172 hours to beat The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on a completionist run.

The Long Dark

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems

Welcome to the Quiet Apocalypse. The Long Dark is a first-person survival video game where the player assumes the role of a crash-landed bush pilot Will Mackenzie who must survive the frigid Canadian wilderness.

This thoughtful, exploration-survival experience challenges solo players to think for themselves as they explore an expansive frozen wilderness in the aftermath of a geomagnetic disaster. There are no zombies or enemies to deal with in this apocalyptic game. It's just you battling the bitter cold and Mother Nature’s fury.

If you just focus on the main objectives, The Long Dark is about 20-and-a-half hours in length, but if you strive to see all aspects of the game, you are likely to spend around 182 hours to obtain 100 percent completion. In Survival Mode, technically, there is no "endgame" as beating the game means different things to different players. As a gamer, you can set your own goals, and see how long you can stay alive, or try to unlock all the achievements.

ARK: Survival Evolved

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch

ARK: Survival Evolved is an open world survival craft game originally released on 2017 where players must survive in a world with roaming dinosaurs, fictional fantasy monsters and other prehistoric animals, natural hazards, and potentially hostile human players.

Stranded on the shores of a mysterious island, you must learn to survive. Use your cunning to kill or tame the primeval creatures roaming the land, and encounter other players to survive, dominate... and escape.

The game has been criticized for its "punishing" difficulty and reliance on girinding, which will really soak up a lot of your time. In fact, it’s said to be among the longest games around, for both Xbox and PlayStation.

In Solo mode, it could take you 255 hours or more to complete the game if you want to unlock all the upgrades and tech. The game also has a Co-Op and Versus mode for those who want even more hours of gameplay.

The Longing

Platform: PC (including Linux)

The Longing is an unusual mix of an idle and adventure game currently available on Steam that requires 400 days of real time to complete. While the main story only lasts 18 hours, the in-game 400 hours pass in actual time, regardless of whether or not the player opens the game. Your goal in this depressingly austere indie game is to keep yourself busy while you await the king’s return during that time. The game released in 2020, has been described as reflecting the "sad and surreal lockdown energy" when everyone was self-isolating.

 

In The Longing you control a Shade, the last remaining servant of a king who was once powerful enough to lead an entire underground kingdom. However, in recent years, the king’s strength began to fade, causing him to enter a deep slumber lasting 400 days, at which point he’ll wake up with his power restored.

Interactions in The Longing are purposely designed to be slow paced, with the Shade’s movement speed being incredibly slow. The gameplay consists mostly of exploring caves, gathering resources to furnish the Shade's home, and other time-wasting activities such as reading from an in-game library and drawing while waiting for the 400 days to pass.