Game pass

The 10 best short games on Xbox Game Pass

Sometimes we just don’t have time to play games. Life can become a whirlwind of work, cooking, meeting friends, and dozens of other overwhelming activities that make spending 20 hours in a digital world seem frivolous. Luckily, some developers not only understand this dilemma, but build games around it.

That’s right, I’m talking about short games. Those who imitate the infamous Tweeter: “I want shorter games with worse graphics made by people who get paid more for working less and I mean that.” Being bite-sized doesn’t mean developers spend less time or effort on these experiences; often their smaller nature allows for a more cohesive and polished end product than games that try to do more.

Luckily for everyone, the full Xbox Game Pass lineup doesn’t just include the latest Halo and Forza Horizon games, but some hidden gems you can spend an afternoon conquering. So ask Forbidden Horizon West and lock up the Pokemon, and leave us here at Pastry show you what’s good in the hood under eight hours. It’s time to enjoy the little things.


The biggest game on the list, Titanfall 2The single-player campaign takes place in just six hours. The developers at Respawn Entertainment aren’t wasting a second though, crafting a tightly-knit story built around some of the best controls this side of Call of Duty. Each level makes maximum use of its specific gadgets, requiring players to platform into a side town to literally jump between times. The game is an imaginative and addictive ride that will leave you clamoring for a long-awaited sequel.


From the brilliantly wacky mind of Ben Esposito, donut county answers one of the most important questions in the world: what if you control a hole that swallows everything? Players control BK, an anthropomorphic raccoon, who hovers all around town in an attempt to win a quadcopter drone. By following the rules of Katamari, the more you suck, the bigger the hole becomes. The levels are full of charm and engaging yet simple puzzles as the story weaves a surprisingly poignant tale of gentrification. The Annapurna is not missing.


Sticking to the puzzle game genre, The pedestrian is a 2.5D puzzle platformer that requires players to manipulate the physical space around them to progress. Controlling a male/female pictograph from bathroom signs, you move among numerous flat surfaces to find keys, boxes, and coins as you venture through the city. The puzzles never seem too complex, keeping the objective in sight but just out of reach. Each new area adds more and more mechanics, culminating in a gigantic puzzle that puts everything you know to the test.


After being eaten by a whale, Lord Faraday wakes up in a decaying and corrosive underworld. With no members of his crew in sight, Faraday ventures out into the world, becoming embroiled in a prophecy to stop the darkness and find his way home. With its 8-bit art style and macabre vibe, Olja is inspired by Castlevania. Players control Faraday and use a magic harpoon to travel the world and attack enemies. The mostly one-man team at Skeleton Crew Studios crafts a lean and touching story that’s enjoyable to spend a few hours slaying bad guys.


After a handful of astronauts go missing on a mission around Saturn, the sole survivor agrees to pilot a highly experimental spherical spacecraft gifted to Earth by aliens to find them. The journey is lonely and dangerous, the deep silence punctuated by sharp electric guitars as your sphere rolls through desolate landscapes, gaining speed until you flatten out and catch some air. The heavy reliance on physics creates an addictive gameplay loop, and the ethereal, spoon-fed story inspires you to keep venturing further and further.


Step into the deep darkness of Limbo, the iconic puzzle platformer from developer Playdead Studios. You must find your sister in the spooky and horrifying land of Limbo, escaping giant spiders and other dangers along the way. It’s steeped in a tense atmosphere, forcing both player and character to come face to face with death and our own mortality. Gay, right?


Critically Acclaimed Subtitle There’s too much to sum up succinctly: it’s an RPG, a dating simulator, a puzzle game, and a hellish shooter, among others. What we can say is that it looks like nothing else. Full of charm, humor and heartbreak, you must explore the monster world and find your way home. What more can we say? You must play this game.


Moving sucks, but Unpacking transforms the titular activity into a calming puzzle that meditates on life and the many homes we will inhabit throughout it. It’s a feat of sound design mixed with pixel-perfect art to form a simple yet highly memorable experience. Developer Witch Beam Games has made me almost enthusiastic about just packing up so I can unpack later, a tall order to be sure.


fire watch is a game, but there’s no point in calling it a game. Who cares what your fingers are doing while you’re playing? Yes: it has graphics. What matters is what Henry and Delilah talk about on their radios. That’s what Henry reads in the few campsites and outposts he comes across. That’s how you feel as the story unfolds like a short story on your TV screen, visiting the private grief of others who may struggle to communicate as painfully as we all do in the real world. . And while this dual-character study might feel a bit lighthearted and has a few unlikely notes that are hit seemingly just to reinforce a sense of mystery, this central friendship between Henry and Delilah is powerful. It seems real and important to both of them.—Garrett Martin


Rooted in Hindu mythology and with a magnificent style of painterly art, Raji is an action game that looks and feels like no other. It can move a bit too slowly, but with a wide-ranging combat kit that prioritizes smooth movement, it’s one of those games that just feels good to play. Light puzzle elements break up the battle, resulting in a well-rounded debut from Indian studio Nodding Heads Games.—Garrett Martin

Mik Deitz is a freelance writer and intern at Paste. They inhale stories from video games, movies, TV, and books, and never finished God of War (2018). Shout or compliment them on Twitter @dietdeitz.

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