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Video Games

The 17 Best Video Games to Play High

Don't bother playing anything stoned if it's not on this list.

by Beckett Mufson
02 August 2018, 2:05pm

Composite via YouTube, YouTube

Your favorite video game probably isn’t on this list. Waluigi will not be mentioned beyond this paragraph, and getting a Hollywood adaptation doesn't cut it here. As with sci-fi, anime, and really any kind of entertainment, the difference between a good video game and a good video game to play high is huge. A terrible game to play sober can be excellent on drugs, and a game that’s amazing when you’re sharp and clear-headed can be irritatingly difficult after a couple of bong rips.

That said, there are countless compelling, visually stunning, surreal, immersive, thought-provoking, highdea-friendly video games out there, and it would be impossible to include them all. But every title here is a good wave to ride.

Everything

You are anything and everything, from a molecule to a post office to a galaxy in the dry, witty Irish animator David O’Reilly’s biggest video game. All you do is explore, passing your consciousness from object to organism and back across seemingly infinite biomes, planets, and celestial bodies. Along the way, you unearth wisdom from the philosopher Alan Watts, who helped popularize the philosophy that *hits blunt* all life is connected and is actually a single organism. There’s not really a way to win or lose—again, everything is you, so there’s no one to beat—which makes it the perfect, low-pressure game to puff n’ play. - Beckett Mufson, Staff Writer, VICE

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

If you're going to pick a Bethesda game to play high, don't go for the higher brow Skyrim or any of the Fallout titles. Nah, pick up Morrowind—a de facto turning point in Elder Scrolls titles that still has crap graphics and a really willy-nilly combat system where it's unclear if your weapons ever connect with your enemy, but sometimes they get hurt (and usually you do, too). The game is incredible, you don’t even need a fence to sell stolen goods.

Being high is also the only way to make Dwemer Ruins at all palatable. - Nicole Clark, Staff Writer, VICE

Grand Theft Auto V

Most of the Grand Theft Auto series is way too harsh for me to enjoy stoned. But one of my best friends showed me that Grand Theft Auto V includes a wealth of surreal post-game “cinematic performance art pieces” that he calls “dreams.” Dreaming is living up the potential of open world games by constructing experiences that their creators could never have imagined. Discovering one is way better blazed than fighting cops and robbing banks. PC mods and Ghost Dog aside, there’s nothing trippier than flying a jet upside-down through Raton Canyon (Canyon Dreams), or taking potshots from an indestructible freight train that the cops can never catch (Train Dreams).

The best one is Chicken Dreams, in which you choose Franklin for his ability to slow down time. You locate and hijack a semi at the Cluckin’ Bell Farms. Make sure to have some C-4 in your inventory, turn on the country radio station, and drive toward the city as fast as you can. Toss explosives out the window to get police on your tail until you have three stars. Just before you hit the bridge crossing the river, go into slow mo mode and turn to lead the cops up the mountain. If you’re lucky, “Convoy” by CW McCall will be playing on the radio. Follow the road until you hit a tunnel. On the other side, head straight to careen off the mountain. Set the camera to slow mo and watch the torrent of police cars and the Cluckin’ Bell truck rain down from the sky. Every time you achieve a Chicken Dream, you’ll notice different details. Imagine the feelings of the chickens inside the trailer. Imagine what the officers will tell their families when they get home tonight. If you land the truck, drive away unscathed, and lose the cops near the Salton Sea, you have achieved the perfect Chicken Dream. - BM

Stardew Valley

Best damn farming simulator. CHANGE MY MIND. - NC

Slither.io

I would recommend slither.io. It's a free in-browser multiplayer game where you are a snake eating colorful, glowing orbs to grow larger. You start out very small and can potentially get very big. When you inevitably run into another snake, you explode into a bunch of smoldering spheres yourself. It's pretty chill. - Peter Slattery, Social Media Editor, VICE

No Man’s Sky

This game about flying to the center of the universe and discovering a bunch of alien life forms along the way famously didn’t live up to the hype. But it just got an update and HOT DAMN LOOK AT THIS GAME IT’S STILL SO BEAUTIFUL. Just play when you’re too blitzed to need a plot. - BM

Nier: Automata

You will not want THC for this one, but you might need CBD. This is easily the best game I’ve played in the last ten years, and one of my top five favorites of all time. You play as an android, tasked with saving the Earth from robots so humans may eventually repopulate it. But the robots start to demonstrate sentience in a way that feels eerily...human. I will cut off there for the sake of spoilers, but the game has multiple play-throughs, and each of them upends your expectations of the previous ones. If you go so far as to play through even the credits, you’ll find a game that slices into the very essence of what makes us, well, us.

More than that, the gameplay is an absolute joy. It combines the best of JRPG style movement, with absolutely massive swords or hammers, and a hovering companion bot that can shoot bullets or missiles. It’s a bullet hell that never feels like drudgery.

The game is, basically: existential anxiety but make it fun. Any further summary will not do it justice. Play it, but with the necessary moral support and emotional fortifications. - NC

Katamari Damacy

Your dad, the King of the Cosmos, destroyed all the stars and constellations, and now you’ve got to clean up his mess by rolling thousands of objects into bigger and bigger balls. Reach critical mass, and you can replace the stars. That’s the out-there-as-fuck premise of Katamari Damacy, one of the trippiest and most satisfying games of all time. It requires critical thinking and adaptation, but isn’t competitive or dark, and is easy on the reflexes.

There are other Katamari games, but I haven’t played them. The most recent one is a mobile game called Amazing Katamari Damacy, which got significantly worse reviews than its namesake. - BM

Dream Daddy

This dad dating simulator is one of the best point and click storybook games I’ve ever played. You and your daughter move to the town of Maple Bay, where you find that all of the people in your neighborhood are also single, dateable dads. There are seven, they are all hot in their own way. There is no way to lose. - NC

StarCraft

StarCraft is easily the greatest game ever made. If you didn’t spend a significant portion of your formative years doing bong hits and killing zerglings, I feel very sorry for you. You missed out. The good news is, more than 20 years after the original’s release, the game is still immensely popular and there are plenty of people to play with. So pick up the newly remastered original and put those tanks in siege mode. The sound of zerglings exploding will be just as satisfying as it was back in 1996.
- Writer requested anonymity

Super Smash Bros.

This fighting game is all about rhythm, and when I’m playing with friends it pays to think outside the box. I often lose after I’ve smoked thanks to slightly delayed reflexes, but when I win it’s incredible. Unexpected tactics pay off, like bouncing a laser sword across the map for no reason, only to have a surprised opponent jump right into it. The game’s premise itself also becomes wonderfully absurd while high. Why are Pikachu and Link fighting? I feel like they would be bros if they ever actually met.
- BM

The Witness

A puzzle game so challenging that having highdeas will probably actually help you think outside the box. I kept finding environmental puzzles everywhere, in the real world, for months after I finished this one. - NC

Pokémon

Playing old Pokemon Game Boy games is lit when you’re lit mostly because you can name your squad all sorts of dumb things, like a gangster Oddish named Tyler who is obviously the leader of Oddish Future. Round it out with Frank Octillery, Doduo Genesis, and Clamperl Sweatshirt, and you’ve got yourself a WOLF Gengar. Plus, Pokémon is turn-based, so it’s perfectly fine to get lost in thought or take a snack break, as long as you’re not fishing. - BM

Kirby Air Ride

Kirby Air Ride is like Mario Kart, but it’s from the early 2000s and the steering is objectively garbage. If you’re not feeling racing, I’d highly recommend the “City Trial” option, where you and up to three of your friends can ride around a “city” collecting power-ups like speed, steering—yes, the steering is so bad on some of these little airships that you need power-ups to make them use-able—and weight (great for melee, horrible for flight). If your opponents collect a power-up that you wanted, you can literally smack it out of them. It’s great. At the end of the City Trial you and your friends duel in some mini competition, sometimes a race, sometimes a flight challenge, and occasionally a brawl. The real joy is in accomplishing City Trial tasks that unlock new Kirby colors and airships—like knocking down all the trees in the forest, finding the “garden in the sky,” and, of course, finding all three pieces of the legendary ship. Yes, you can smack these legendary ship pieces out of your opponents as well. - NC

Civilization Revolution

What if the Roman Empire had never collapsed and the first astronauts on the moon spoke Latin? What if Shaka Zulu, and not Genghis Khan, conquered the largest landmass of all time? What if rock n roll was invented under the rule of Egyptian Pharaohs? All of these possibilities and more are tangled up in Sid Meier’s turn-based strategy series, Civilization. I particularly like the game Civilization Revolution for its goofy graphics and sound effects, and the fact that you can beat it in like 15 turns if you’re cutthroat and lucky. - BM

The Original DOS Master of Orion

The original DOS Master of Orion is a classic, well worth downloading an emulator so you can play it baked out of your tree today. The turn-based sci-fi strategy game tasks you with conquering the galaxy, either through diplomacy or war (though mostly the latter). MOO is a throwback to a time when video games were still relaxing, before players started quoting their “actions per minute” stats and donning adult diapers to extend sessions. So, if you’re extremely stoned and can’t face the fast-paced tempo of modern gaming, then the pleasing monotony of MOO is definitely for you. There is literally no rush with this game. Take two minutes for a turn or spend hours leisurely tweaking your empire’s economy. Negotiate at length with such nerdily-named rivals like the Psilons, Darloks, and Silicoids. Take your time, roll another joint, and just relax. - Anonymous

Tetris

Tetris was the first entertainment software export of the Soviet Union according to Wikipedia, so that’s fun to think about. Nothing is more satisfying than crushing four rows of blocks with a single straight Tetrimino—the official name of Tetris blocks—while listening to music originally composed the Russian poet Nikolai Nekrasov. When you’re high, it sends tingles down your spine. - BM

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.