Top 10 Small Open World Games when we talk about great open worlds, it’s often the large ones that get the most attention, just because of the accomplishment of the scale. However, it’s not always the biggest ones that are the best.
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List of Top 10 Small Open World Games
The Talos 1 from Prey
It’s a great one to start with because, at first, It doesn’t really even seem like “Prey” is an open-world game at all.
If you played other immersive sims before, you’re probably expecting a linear sequence of levels, similar to something like Arkane’s’ previous games, like “Dishonored” or games that inspired “Prey,” like “System Shock 2.”
But after you get through the first major area, the whole station really starts to open up.
What’s so cool about it, is that the station map is accurate.
And if you actually combined all the different parts of Talos 1, it would mostly make sense.
The bridge is at the top, just like it shows on the map, while the docking bay is near the bottom.
You can see everything wherever you go, on the exterior of the station too.
In reality, Talos 1 is basically one huge immersive sim map that’s split into different sections by loading screens.
It’s as if an entire game was set on a single “Hitman” map because the amount of work they had to put in to make everything line up and make sense, while still making an entertaining game is really impressive.
The best small open worlds aren’t simply measured in how few square miles they take up, but in how dense and lived-in the world actually feels.
Few of them out there feel as detailed and complete as the one in “Prey.”
Hong Kong from Sleeping Dogs.
At Number nine on the list of top 10 small open world games is Hong Kong from Sleeping Dogs.
Compared to “Prey,” the open world of “Sleeping Dogs” is actually huge, but compared to a lot of other open world action games, it’s actually pretty small and very dense.
Sometimes that can be a little disappointing, but with “Sleeping Dogs,” it works absolutely perfectly. Hong Kong is super dense, very lively, and filled with detail.
And while it doesn’t cover a huge area, like something like “Grant Theft Auto 5,” it still manages to create a really compelling version of the city, while only being a fraction of its actual size.
It does help that there’s less of an emphasis on driving and gunplay in this game than in other open-world games, that, you know, trend towards crime.
Most of the fighting is actually hand-to-hand and half the time you’re chasing someone on foot, rather than doing anything in a vehicle.
What stands out to me, compared to other open-world crime games, is that the interiors are, like, insane.
And the on-foot sections like the night market are really cool.
Like, it’s just a really cool place to explore on foot.
And the kind of detail you really just don’t see in a game that’s aiming to give an open world.
The city of Hong Kong is ridiculous in size, so the “Sleeping Dogs” version isn’t exactly accurate. But the smaller size makes getting around easier and also makes it so that they can get the feel of Hong Kong, perhaps a little bit better, while giving us a more fun game overall.
Prague and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: Top 10 Small open World Games
“Mankind Divided” is pretty unique among the “Deus Ex” games because instead of having several small hub areas, you can explore as you go through the story, the game’s only got one, Prague.
And that seems a little limiting, but the developers made the most of it and turned the city into one of the best, but also smallest, open-world locations ever.
It’s a place that’s incredibly dense with detail and it just looks so cool with this mix of, like, old European architecture next to hyper-modern structures and art displays.
Ask anybody about this game, they’ll probably tell you the hub world’s probably the best part about the game.
The main story’s kind of short and ends on, what I would call, a disappointing cliffhanger.
But the time you spend in Prague is just fantastic. A lot of the game’s best moments are found in the side quests in this area.
And it seems like, yeah, that’s kind of damning the game with faint praise, but seriously, some of these side quests are genuinely phenomenal.
The serial killer side quest is especially good and plays out slowly over the course of the entire game. And it’s exclusive to the open world.
Prague is just a really interesting and dense place to explore in this game.
And it’s amazing to look at, even now. The actual open world is only a few city blocks, but it’s one of the best open worlds out there.
The island from “The Witness.”
At Number seven, top 10 small open world games is the island from “The Witness.”
This one’s a little different, a puzzle game rather than an action one. But the bones of an open world are there.
After getting through, what amounts to, a tutorial, you pretty much get free reign to explore the island and go wherever you want.
There’s nothing stopping you from attempting end-game puzzles, Right from the start, if you want to. But if it’s your first time playing, you basically have to explore the easier areas first to understand how to solve some of the later brain teasers.
That’s kind of, what’s so brilliant about “The Witness.” Once you get past that initial part, there are really no tutorials or locks on anything.
If you wanna progress, you basically have to learn about the various rules of the game and apply them as you go.
It’s a structure that allows for a lot of Eureka moments, where your brain like suddenly puts all the pieces together and you feel like a damn genius.
In comparison to a lot of open world games though, the island’s actually pretty small.
It takes only a minute or two to run from one side to the other but compared to a lot of puzzle games, it’s gigantic. It’s just a cool place to explore as well.
The visuals are kind of basic, but they really did well. So each area has a unique identity that makes it pretty satisfying to explore.
If “The Witness” was just a linear collection of line puzzles, it wouldn’t be nearly as good. It’s the island that really pulls everything together.
London from “Assassin Creed Syndicate”.
At number six, on the list of top 10 small open world games is London from “Assassin Creed Syndicate”.
As the maps in the “Assassins Creed” series just keep getting bigger and bigger, it’s easy to forget that sometimes less is more and that’s definitely the case with “Syndicate”.
Compared to the sprawling epics that most of the other games have in the series, “Syndicate” is way more humble in its ambitions.
Instead of taking place in multiple cities or even an entire country, the entire open world of this game takes place in central London.
It’s a city that’s been done to death in open-world games too, but the industrial revolution setting does a lot to make the city feel distinct.
Another huge positive is all the interior locations you can explore during the games’ more “Hitman” style Assassination missions.
They were introduced in “Unity,” but basically like everything about “Syndicate” that was introduced in “Unity,” way less janky here.
It’s just a solid game, all around the grappling hook feels like they put it in because the Batman games were popular, but it makes getting around a lot easier.
And the vehicles are really fun to play around with. But probably most importantly, the actual stealth seems like, to me, Probably the best in the series.
In comparison to a lot of other “Assassin Creed” games, it’s pretty modest in size, but it’s much more focused.
And in our opinion here, honestly, a lot more fun because of it.
Faranga from “Risen”
Released Beck in 2009 by Piranha Bytes, the masters of Eurogenic RPGs, like “Gothic” and “Alex.” Yes, a developer that I have both a lot of respect and criticism for.
“Risen” may have been the developer’s smallest, but best open world.
And you’ll probably be able to tell exactly why with my criticism of “Alex.” “Risen” is set entirely in Faranga, which in terms of an RPG, this place is pretty small, but it makes up with depth.
It may not look like a lot now, but in 2019, this was an absolute joy to explore.
Everything feels handmade and interesting.
And there’s a real rush to explore places that you haven’t been, Just because you, like, want to see it. It is a tough one.
When you start out, even the most pathetic and basic enemies can kill you. And it doesn’t get a lot easier from there.
Compared to “Gothic,” the difficulty’s a little more reasonable, but it’s a tough and unforgiving game, especially for this time.
Oddly enough, “Demon Souls” came out, like, four days later in North America. So I guess that’s what 2009 was all about. You actually have access to most of the island, right from the start.
It’s just that if you go in the wrong direction, you’re probably gonna get clobbered pretty hard by high-level monsters, blocking your way.
And also combats. It’s a Piranha Bytes game. It’s a little awkward and the translation isn’t the best, but the world design’s amazing.
Just a fun game to explore. And the difficulty makes it even more satisfying when you manage to explore some new and different places and survive.
The later games in the series aren’t as well regarded, but the first game really holds up, as long as you got a high tolerance for pain.
Hekseville from “Gravity Rush”
Probably the strangest open-world game on the list. Originally developed for the Playstation Vita and quickly gathered a cult following.
Sony was like, “Woo, gotta go to PS4. ‘Cause, it would be good if more than a dozen people bought and played it.” Joking aside, it’s kind of a weird game.
You play as Cat, a girl with the ability to control gravity, which you can use to basically fly by shifting gravity for yourself so that you’re always falling sideways.
It’s a really unique gimmick and it works well in the city it takes place in, Hekseville.
It’s one of the most unique locations in gaming, a city attached to a massive pillar, in the middle of an endless void.
There are only four relatively small districts here.
So the surface area is not huge, But there are tons of nooks and crannies to explore.
You’re not just flying all over the city either.
A lot of the time, you’re flying under it as well. And there’s some pretty surreal stuff down there.
When you’re flying around struts and supports keep this place from literally collapsing into an endless abyss.
It’s just a really unusual location and one of our favorite open-world cities.
New Marais from “inFamous 2”: Top 10 Small Open World Games
At number three on the list of top 10 small open world game is New Marais from “inFamous 2”
All three of these games have relatively small cities. But New Marais is probably the smallest and probably the best.
It’s basically a fictional New Orleans. And it’s built for maximum depth, in a relatively small area.
Compared to a lot of open-world games, it’s tiny.
But for an “inFamous” game, perfect.
They manage to squeeze everything you would expect from New Orleans, there’s a Bourbon Street area, Old Spanish Fort, a Flooded section, and a huge port area, to name a few places.
It’s incredibly dense while managing not to feel like an amusement park, which is incredible.
Looking at this map, it’s gotta be one of the smallest open-world games of all time.
It’s not very big at all. Two islands split into four, sort of, districts.
Like in truth, it could be an open-world Tony Hawk game.
But a big part of that Is just the developers really leaning into what works in an “inFamous” game.
These games are fast, fun, and very dense. And at least until “Second Son,” you didn’t really get any super fast movement powers.
So making the map relatively small makes sense. Maybe some people prefer Seattle from “Second Son” or Empire Bay from one. But to me, it’s just the best open world in the series.
Hyrule and Lorule from “Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds”
This is an interesting game, ’cause it really looks like your standard top-down “Legend of Zelda” game, but it’s got a large amount of open-world DNA in it as well.
Unlike “Breath of the Wild” though, which is massive, the world’s pretty compact. Built as a sequel to the legendary “Link to the Past,” what makes this game unique among “Legend of Zelda” games is that you can tackle the dungeons in pretty much any order.
It’s a truly open world, one that you can explore as you see fit.
That’s because instead of earning equipment that gets you to access to dungeons like a regular Zelda game, you can just buy or rent equipment from the store whenever you want.
It’s a small thing that makes a really big difference and opens up the game world in a pretty unprecedented way for the series.
You might think it throws everything off, but actually, against all odds, it’s a fantastic game. Probably one of the best in the series.
It’s all around incredibly fun. It’s easy to get into and it’s really refreshing for the whole series, just like “Breath of the Wild,” but in a completely different way.
Manhattan from Marvel’s “Spider-Man”: Top 10 Small Open World Games
The best small open world game is Manhattan from Marvel’s “Spider-Man”
In real life, the island of Manhattan is not very big. It’s about 22.8 square miles.
And in Marvel’s “Spider-Man,” it is shrunk to a fraction of that size. Still, it remains one of the most realistic and well-realized open-world games out there.
Few games actually manage to capture a city, as well as this one, does.
It’s a small detail, but one of the things I really appreciate about this game is how realistic the traffic is.
Like, most open-world games have to cheat and keep the roads open to make it easier to get around, so the game doesn’t have to draw a lot of vehicles or just generally be in your way as you’re in a vehicle.
But this game is just like, “You know what? You’re Spider-Man. Traffic can suck in this New York.” And it does.
From either street level or swinging around, it all looks amazing too.
Interiors, is still, probably among the top-notch of any game out there, that’s an open world.
It’s all just like a major graphical showcase. Interestingly enough, compared to the many other Spider-Man game versions of Manhattan, it’s probably one of the biggest.
But it’s actually relatively small, compared to most open-world cities. When you can’t fly and you’re not driving, it only makes sense to condense a world a little bit, so you’re not spending too much time going from one place to another.
I mean it’s, “Spider-Man,” it’s one of the few open-world superhero games that can actually contend with the “Batman: Arkham” games. And while the city is definitely bigger Than the one from Arkham city, it’s pretty small in the grand scheme.
When it comes to superheroes though, unless your Superman, smaller’s probably better. And it doesn’t get much better than “Spiderman’s” New York.
It’s so fun to swing around in and it just looks amazing. Like, what is there left to say about it? And that’s all for today.
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