RPGs are notoriously long, a characteristic that grows less-enticing as someone ages and time becomes more of a hot commodity. Dedicating months to Persona 5 or years to Skyrim definitely sounds tempting, but there are occasions when a shorter journey is more welcome.
Considering "shorter" RPGs tend to require roughly 40 hours to complete, titles that deliver a comparable sense of scale while sticking to a brisk 15 to 25-hour runtime are in short supply. Luckily, some exceptions do exist!
Here are 10 epic RPGs that can be beaten (not completed) surprisingly fast. The length of time required to complete the proper main questline will be considered.
10 Final Fantasy XV (20-25 HRS)
Starting with one of the more contestable entries, Final Fantasy XV could theoretically span 50+ hours, especially following a couple of patches that tweaked the game's climactic chapters. That said, the main storyline can easily be completed in under 25 hours.
While the open-world is huge and takes some time to traverse, the map is not particularly stuffed with side-quests and content. Furthermore, the action-oriented combat system is slightly more forgiving than some of the franchise's previous entries, so grinding is not that crucial.
9 South Park: The Stick of Truth (10-15 Hrs)
The most epic of epic RPGs, South Park: The Stick of Truth tells the timeless tale of humanity's neverending fight against the drow elves. Blood will be spilled and lives will be lost, especially if Wizard King Cartman gets his way.
The Stick of Truth is a love letter to the irreverent adult comedy, one that perfectly recreates and enables fans to explore the cartoon's iconic town. The Fractured But Whole is the better game, but The Stick of Truth benefits from being slightly more concise, requiring just over 10 hours to complete.
8 Suikoden (15-20 Hrs)
Suikoden II and IV require roughly 30-40 hours to complete, while the third and fifth entries easily demand twice as much. Out of all the games in Konami's franchise, 1995's Suikoden is comfortably the shortest of the bunch; however, the classic JRPG does not skimp on the story or recruitable characters.
Following the sobering trials of a soldier who joins the Scarlet Moon Empire's Imperial Army but realizes that the people in charge are corrupt, Suikoden blends fantasy, political, and social themes to craft a story that is engrossing and constantly interesting.
7 Mother (15-20 Hours)
Published in the rest of the world as EarthBound Beginnings, Mother is a highly influential RPG that helped set the stage for modern classics like Undertale. Set in an urban landscape and featuring a plot that involves aliens, paranormal mysteries, and a lovable cast of young heroes; Mother has heart, intelligence, and depth.
The turn-based gameplay mostly plays out like early entries in the Dragon Quest franchise, but the rest of Mother could not be further removed from Square Enix's iconic JRPG series.
6 NieR: Automata (20-25 Hrs)
Technically, NieR: Automata's first set of closing credits only require around 10 hours to reach, however, the campaign is not complete until A2's ending is reached after the third playthrough.
Considering this is an open-world RPG with three protagonists who basically have their own (interconnected) storylines, Automata still comes in at a relatively brisk 25-hour runtime. As the world is not necessarily the most compelling to explore and the hack and slash combat is fun but relatively shallow, 20 hours sounds about right for Automata.
5 Chrono Trigger (15-20 Hrs)
The defining short and sweet JRPG, Chrono Trigger has not skipped a beat since it was released in 1995. Boasting a time-travel storyline that literally spans millions of years, Chrono Trigger effortlessly establishes six playable characters, tells a grandiose tale that touches upon themes of freedom of choice and fate, and introduces six fully-realized time periods.
Some 100-hour RPGs struggle to accomplish as much as Chrono Trigger manages to do in roughly 20 hours.
4 Transistor (5-8 Hrs)
Finally! A rare RPG that actually clocks in at under 10 hours. As the developer behind Bastion and Pyre, two games that only failed to make the cut for this list for the sake of diversity, Supergiant Games earned a reputation for crafting brisk but satisfying RPGs. Transistor is the studio's best work, which is saying a lot.
With combat that toes the line between real-time and strategy, Transistor ensures that its protagonist, Red, never feels static. Putting aside the epic storyline and the world's awesome cyberpunk aesthetic, the gameplay's progression system is shockingly robust for a game that ends so quickly.
3 Fallout (15-20 Hrs)
Any RPG by Bethesda is destined to be life-consuming, so Fallout fans short on time need to look back to the days when the franchise was under Interplay Productions' control. Unlike the more action-oriented later entries, the original Fallout is a more personal affair, one that focuses heavily on player choice.
Although turn-based combat is a thing in Fallout, the majority of the game is spent interacting with NPCs and traversing the dense world. Fallout is designed with multiple playthroughs in mind, but a single run should not take more than 20 hours.
2 Fable (10-15 Hrs)
Marketed as a revolutionary RPG with an organic world that adapts to the player's actions; in reality, Fable ended up just being a pretty good game with a rewarding open-world and a decent combat system. The story is also quite well written, even if it does not take all that long to complete.
Actually, Fable's short length might just be its biggest detriment, as the second-half feels a bit rushed at times. While there are a sizable amount of side-quests, only a handful are particularly memorable.
1 Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (12-17 Hrs)
Despite garnering mostly positive reviews, Mankind Divided's disappointingly short length was a point of contention for many people. Set in the aftermath of 2011's Human Revolution, Mankind Divided readdresses many of the franchise's core themes, particularly when it comes to oppression. While these subjects are handled well, a 15-hour campaign is simply not long enough to explore these issues while also allotting enough time to properly develop the characters.
That's not to say that Mankind Divided is not worth playing, as the game is ambitious and gets a lot right. However, this is one entry that could have profited from being a touch longer.