Is there anything more satisfying than playing a new game only to discover that a developer took the time to add extra features, or painstakingly map out a beautiful bonus level?
We get much the same feeling when we find a game within a game, with the character we’re playing able to sit down to a mid-level hand of poker or a spot of rummy over a chilled pint of beer.
Here are some of the best, hidden games that we’ve played, which not only provide welcome relief to the main game in question but can even be so fun as to distract you from your mission altogether.
Far Cry 3
Whoever developed the eight separate poker rooms in Far Cry 3 really knew their stuff, because it wasn’t long after the game’s release that players claimed that except for playing the open-world shooter for hours, they also knew the rules of poker like the back of their hands.
There were four different skill levels to tackle, as well as NPCs all with varying degrees of poker competence, and the whole thing was made for an immersive experience encased within the parameters of the original game. Having played more than a few hands ourselves it does appear that the NPCs call a bit too much, meaning you can quite often take them for every penny they own. If you know basic poker hands and find you’re getting better, there are always bonuses that let you play the real thing online.
Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption 2
Getting to be a cowboy who explores the open plains and taverns of the great American west was already a treat for gamers when the original Red Dead Redemption was released in 2010. The game was also packed with other mini-games, which could be played in order to boost a player’s bankroll.
Perhaps the best was Liar’s Dice, where you have to bluff your opponent and in turn decipher whether they’re bluffing. The game was a major hit and yet never made it into the game’s sequel, much to the chagrin of hardcore fans. Another game that didn’t make the cut was Horseshoes, whereby a player has to toss horseshoes onto a pin. Hell, there’s even arm wrestling if you want it!
Games that did make it into Red Dead Redemption 2 once again included poker and the nerve-wracking Five Finger Fillet.
When it comes to games within games DOTA really took things to a whole new level, spawning from Warcraft 3 to supersede the latter, becoming one of the most played online strategy games of all-time alongside the likes of League of Legends.
This is by no means the only tale of a mod of a game taking on a life of its own. Half-Life is one game that has spawned a whole host of others, including Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, Natural Selection 2 and The Stanley Parable.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The word genius gets bandied around too much these days, but it would be remiss of us not to use it when describing the developers of The Witcher 3, who not only managed to channel a book into a game, that would, in turn, spawn a spin-off movie, but also created a wildly popular card game called Gwent.
Such is the popularity of this card game that it was made into its very own standalone title, which you’ll have spotted many a fan playing on their phone.
Grand Theft Auto
Perhaps one of the first open-world titles to boast games within the game, GTA has since stepped up its offering of additional fun distractions, including table games like three card poker, blackjack, and slots. However, they haven’t stopped there because you can even play golf and a spot of tennis. There are only some of the hidden gems you can find within games, but there are many more.
You just have to look for them.