Video games can be great for dramatic storytelling and immersive hours-long experiences. But there are days when you just don’t have the time or the mental bandwidth to dig into a long RPG or gigantic open-world action adventure.
Sometimes, you just want to take off your thinking cap, rely on your lizard brain, pick up and play a game for 15 to 30 minutes, and have fun. Here are seven of the latest video games that let you do just that.
Puyo Puyo Tetris (Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4)
It’s two classic puzzle games combined into one cute, clever, and colorful package! Match four of the same shaded blobs to pop them, as you do in Puyo Puyo. Place tetriminoes to fill out horizontal spaces and clear lines, as you do in Tetris. Play against AI or another human opponent. Multiple game modes allow you to choose one gameplay style or juggle both tasks for mind-bending chaotic fun. Throw in power-ups to mess with your opponents for more heated yet good-natured competition.
Injustice 2 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android)
Just saw Wonder Woman and feel the urge to fight as the powerful Amazon princess? Play as her or any of the other iconic DC heroes and villains in this super-sized, spectacular fighting game from the Mortal Kombat creators (kreators?). Clash and smash through destructible environments as Batman, Superman, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, and even Sub-Zero of MK fame. The new Gear System lets you customize your fighter in all sorts of souped-up combinations. Stick around for the story mode, too!
Dead Cells (Microsoft Windows)
Mix the upgrade system and difficulty of Dark Souls with the 2D platforming and level progression of Metroid into a randomized action dungeon crawler, and you get the superb Dead Cells. Hack and slash enemies with all kinds of crazy weapons like auto-targeting lightning whips and deployable buzzsaws and machine gun turrets. Blow up bosses with an assortment of magic spells. The fun is in improvising, since after getting the equipment blueprints and learning the skills, you won’t know exactly what weapons and powers you’ll have until you start a run.
Strafe (PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, macOS)
Miss the guns-blazing action of classic first-person shooters like Doom and Quake? Strafe can give you that old adrenaline fix you’ve been craving. Mow down waves of monsters with outrageous firearms in randomly generated labyrinthine levels. And as the title implies, you need to be moving left and right constantly to survive the onslaught. Relive 90s PC gaming and all its gory, polygonal glory in bite-sized chunks.
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows)
There’s a lot of things to get lost in when you play The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but the biggest time sink for many fans has to be the in-universe card game Gwent. With its surface-level simplicity hiding complex systems underneath, it’s no surprise that it got turned into a standalone video game. Like other collectible card games, you build a deck to engage in tactical turn-based battles with other players. It’s free-to-play and in open beta right now, with a full-featured story mode promised for the 1.0 release.
Flinthook (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows. macOS)
Plunder the ill-gotten gains of space pirates in Flinthook. It’s a cartoony 2D action platformer where you swing into action with your trusty grappling hook. Weave your way through ever-changing pirate ships, dodging and dispatching goons in slow motion, so you can unlock treasure chests and new abilities. You’ll have to pick what skills you can use for every marauding mission, so choose wisely, especially when you take on the buccaneer bosses. Looting booty in bursts is fun in Flinthook!
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (Microsoft Windows)
Put your survival skills to the ultimate test in this Battle Royale-inspired massive multiplayer online shooter. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds packs 100 or so players into a plane and forces them to parachute onto a sprawling island littered with deadly weaponry and janky vehicles. The goal? Be the last person or team standing by any means necessary. The twist? A blue laser wall of death gradually constricts the play area, killing anyone who remains outside it. With regular airstrikes, loot drops, and randomized gear placement on the island, the unpredictability and forced engagements make for the tensest moments and the wildest stories.