There is so much to do these days that it’s become hard to find the time to sit down and play a video game without feeling the urge to multitask. Whether you need to respond to e-mails, give your pet some attention, or phone scroll for a bit, it’s become difficult to do any of them while simultaneously playing through the newest Triple-A title.
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Fortunately, certain games allow you to play them with one hand either naturally or by changing some of their settings or controller mapping in a menu. Accessibility features in video games continue to improve, so if you’re suffering from a hand injury or just looking for something casual to play while doing something else, these are the best games you can play with one hand.
Over the years, Animal Crossing has garnered a reputation for being one of the best series to relax to. Each entry is set to real-time, which means whatever time or day it is in real life is reflected in the game itself. It’s easy to spend hundreds of hours befriending villagers and customizing your home, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons makes it possible to do it all with only one hand.
A few years after the Nintendo Switch was released, a console update suddenly allowed you to change the button mapping on any of your controllers. It won’t work for every Switch game, but it’s possible to reconfigure your controller to make Animal Crossing playable with only one hand. That should make it easier for you to message someone as they visit your island or while trying to figure out the price of turnips for the stock market.
Most action games require focus, phenomenal reflexes, and patience, but the original Bayonetta subverted this trope by including a mode that made it possible for anyone to play through it. Many people walk away from combo-focused action games due to their difficulty, but the “Very Easy” mode in Bayonetta allows them to play through the entire campaign using only one hand.
The “Very Easy” mode moves Bayonetta toward enemies and only requires you to hit one of two buttons to perform awe-inspiring and deadly combos. The game is certainly less fun this way, but it’s a fantastic option for anyone who wants to experience the story without having to worry about dying over and over again.
7 The Ace Attorney Series
While most games require both hands to control a character or object, visual novels usually have more text than anything else and can easily be played with one hand. Some of the genre’s best titles can have you tapping a single button for hours as characters talk about whichever situation they’re in. But the Ace Attorney series contains some of the best interactive visual novels that you can play with one hand.
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From investigating crime scenes to defending clients in court, the series does a stellar job of keeping you engaged with it despite some monotonous button-pressing. Whether you’re playing through the series on a console, PC, or mobile, you can effortlessly use a single hand to choose evidence and interrogate witnesses without any objections.
6 Donut County
If you’ve suffered a temporary hand injury and need something short to play while you recover, it’ll be nearly impossible to find something more charming and fun as Donut County. Its two-hour campaign is perfect for those looking for a brief but hilarious puzzle game starring a talking raccoon with an app that lets him create giant holes in the ground.
The gameplay is simple; you control the giant hole across a series of levels and must swallow everything – and everyone – around you to continue the story. It’s full of memorable characters, an incredibly-catchy soundtrack, and a few surprises towards the end. It’s short and sweet, making it the perfect game for someone with one hand and a couple of hours to kill to check out.
5 Nintendo Switch Sports
One of the Nintendo Wii’s most significant accomplishments was introducing motion-based gameplay into the zeitgeist during the late 2000s. The Wii Remote was easy for anyone to pick up and start playing games like Wii Sports and Mario Kart, and the Nintendo Switch has continued that legacy with its Joy-Con controllers.
While there are fewer games you can play with one hand on the Switch compared to the Wii, Nintendo Switch Sports brings back everything that made the original popular and introduces new sports and modes to play. Every sport only requires you to hold one Joy-Con at a time, so if you want to bowl with one hand while lifting weights with the other, you can easily make Nintendo Switch Sports a part of your daily routine.
4 Kentucky Route Zero
Annapurna Games has become known for publishing unique titles that often explore the boundaries between narrative and gameplay. Many of them require you to use both hands to navigate their worlds – like Outer Wilds or Stray – but Kentucky Route Zero is one of the few you could easily experience using only one at a time.
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Kentucky Route Zero is like poetry in motion, and most of its appeal stems from its stunning visuals and beautifully crafted dialogue. While the Ace Attorney series offers narratives full of humor and drama, Kentucky Route Zero instead provides something more surreal and thought-provoking as you follow a group of travelers on a hypnotic journey that touches on themes of monopolization, addiction, and so much more.
3 Slay The Spire
There are a plethora of deck-building games these days, but few are as replayable and exciting as 2019’s Slay the Spire. It seamlessly weaves roguelike elements into the gameplay to create a new experience every run, and every playable character has unique cards and abilities that provide you with countless strategies to play around with.
No matter where you decide to play Slay the Spire – it’s available on nearly every platform – it’s a spectacular game to play with only one hand. You’ll spend most of your time in combat, choosing which cards to use against nefarious enemies. Slay the Spire is very easy to play and only requires you to hit a few buttons to engage with it.
2 Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee
Many Pokemon games require you to use both hands because they are on a handheld console that needs support from at least one of them. The franchise has recently started appearing on the Nintendo Switch, allowing longtime fans to finally play the newest entries on their TV or in handheld mode.
A pair of Pokemon games – Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee – was the first to grace the Switch and actually encouraged you to play them with one hand using the Poke Ball Plus accessory. You could also play through the entire game using a single Joy-Con, making both games incredibly easy to play for both new and returning trainers.
1 Vampire Survivors
There aren’t that many games that require little to no interactivity from the player, but Vampire Survivors is somehow one of the most compelling and simple roguelikes available. You’ll need to hit a button to confirm which character and upgrades you would like per run, but the core gameplay mostly focuses on moving a hero around a stage as they automatically attack enemies.
Most runs in Vampire Survivors can last up to thirty minutes, and the most you’ll need to engage with it is during the opening moments when you begin choosing which weapons to equip. At a certain point, your character should become so strong that even moving becomes arbitrary. There are few feelings better than annihilating thousands of foes at once, and Vampire Survivors gives you that power in one hand, making it the perfect game to play while organizing your computer files or clearing out your inbox.