Let’s just be honest here – Every “best games to play while stoned” article out there on the internet says pretty much the same thing. “Skyrim” this, “Grand Theft Auto V” that. And zero disrespect meant – Those games are great, high or sober. But by this point you’ve probably seen at least fifteen different sites recommending Call of Duty or Kingdom Hearts or Minecraft and maybe you’re looking for something…. a bit more outside the box.
So while we’ll be namedropping some of the bigger titles out there in today’s article, we want to mainly focus on games maybe you haven’t heard of to death by this point; some games that are a little obscure, some games that may have been forgotten, and also just some games that outright rule. Welcome to HighThere!’s list of the best video games to play while high.
(Kikiyama, 2002 – Android | PC & Steam)
A unique (and completely free!) game, Yume Nikki is styled much like a retro 16 bit JRPG from the days of the Super Nintendo. With no combat, no goals, and very little action to speak of, Yume Nikki is essentially a story-driven game about exploring the world of dreams.
Often noted for it’s uniquely dark and atmospheric setting, this may not be the best game to play directly before bedtime. But for those intrigued by its setting and style, Yume Nikki has a wide host of surprises and interesting storytelling devices to be discovered. See for yourself why this game has been an indie darling and internet sensation since it’s release in 2004 (note: there is a paid, 3D remake of this title available, but playing the original, free version is typically recommended).
(Sega, 2001 & 2016 – Playstation 4 | PC, VR & Steam)
Known as one of the most engrossing, immersive video games of all time, REZ has a special place in the hearts of those who’ve experienced it. At it’s core, REZ is an on-rails shooter; the player is a barely-formed avatar, floating through space, targeting and shooting enemies as they zip by.
What sets REZ apart is it’s soundtrack and beat-based gameplay. As you move and shoot through colorful, psychedelic environments, your target locks and shots match to the beat of oldskool electronica vibes, laid down by masters of the genre such as Coldcut and Adam Freeland. REZ is truly An Experience, and one that reaches awe-inspiring majesty when played in VR. If music and trippy visuals are your things, REZ Infinite is absolutely worth checking out.
No Man's Sky
(Hello Games, 2016 – Playstation 4& 5 | Xbox One/X/S | PC & Steam)
It’s hardly a secret that No Man’s Sky has had it’s… issues, since launch. But like any good developer would the team at Hello Games stuck by their product, and have delivered a slew of free content updates that have truly made No Man’s Sky a unique, engrossing experience.
Discovering and flying across randomly generated worlds never gets old, particularly now with expanded quests, NPCs, crafting and many other new systems. If looking for a great game to kick back and chill with some cannabis over, No Man’s Sky is set to deliver near-endless (literally) entertainment.
(Platinum Games, 2017 – Playstation 4 | Xbox One | PC & Steam)
Finding reviews and think pieces about Yoko Taro’s 2017 masterpiece is easy, so we’ll spare you the gushing about it’s gorgeous artwork, hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, and truly unique (and tear-jerkingly powerful) philosophical ruminations on the nature of life. But why include Nier: Automata in our weed-friendly game list over a dozen other action video games, like Dark Souls, Nioh, or Devil May Cry? Because unlike all of those other titles, Nier: Automata doesn’t actively hate you.
To say that N:A doesn’t have some tricky bits would be an understatement, but bucking against the popular (and frankly overwhelming) “Souls-like” trend, Yoko Taro seems more interested in players experiencing the video game and world his team has made, refraining from punishing those playing on the easiest difficulties (nor rewarding players playing on the hardest difficulties, either).
On it’s easiest settings Nier: Automata is hard to fail at, with options like auto-aiming & auto-dodging that make the player near-invincible as they cruise through combat, getting to enjoy all the other good bits without the lurking specter of death (at least in one sense; the philosopher/designer in Yoko Taro has Some Thoughts on that matter that get explored via story). The Nier series is always an artistic treat, for sure, but for a game experience even the most dedicated non-gamer (and cannabis enthusiast) can enjoy without stressing over? Nier: Automata is hard to top.
The JackBox Series
(Jackbox Games, 1995-2020 – Almost Literally Every Platform | Steam)
The JackBox series has been around for what feels like forever at this point, and with good reason – No other game series delivers loud, irreverent, in-your-face multi-player trivia action like the You Don’t Know Jack team.
Available on pretty much every single platform you can dream up (including PC, Playstation, Xbox, Switch, Apple TV and the Xfinity X1 as a start) the latest release of the Jackbox Party Pack 7 comes with a variety of games and streaming options alike, allowing you to move beyond getting high and answering trivia with your friends on the couch and instead getting high and answering trivia with strangers on the internet. Bless the internet, bless weed.
LSD: Dream Emulator
(Asmik Ace, 1998 – Playstation 1)
Out of all the video games on our list, LSD: Dream Emulator is potentially both the easiest and most difficult to explain. Similar to Yume Nikki, LSD is designed as a dream-exploring experience, with very few opportunities for player interaction; the player moves around a 3D space, and can press a button to touch objects that will transport them to new locations, but that’s it.
Instead, LSD’s main point is exploration, giving the player ten minutes to explore semi-randomly generated, highly surreal & psychedelic locations; random objects and characters such as dancing rabbits roam around rainbow-textured landscapes, and your only goal is to observe them like the pseudo dreamer you are.
LSD can be a bit tough to find these days; picking up a physical copy in 2021 will run you $600 at a minimum, and though the game was re-released on the Playstation Store in 2010 it’s long been a Japan-only exclusive. Of course, much like dreams, video games can be emulated too….. but that’s a topic for another website.
(ConcernedApe, 2016 – Playstation 4 & Vita | Xbox One | Nintendo Switch | Android & iOS | Linux, Mac, PC & Steam)
“Oh, look, it’s a cute little farming sim where you plant crops and water them and oh, it has a bunch of villagers you can talk to, and you can fish and you can get married and isn’t this just the most relaxing little game!”
No. Anyone who says that hasn’t been knee-deep in Summer, Year 2, juggling a yard full of melons, a greenhouse full of starfruit, thirty preserves jars, two dozen crab pots, the upcoming luau festival AND an ever-increasing need for coal (which means spending precious time in the potentially deadly mines).
At the end of your farming day you are wiped – Not just your avatar but literally you yourself, despite having done nothing more than press a button to digitally water some plants (no cannabis, alas) and maybe press the same button a bunch more to simulate mining some rocks. Keeping yourself ahead of Stardew Valley’s unforgiving clock and energy systems are a large part of the game – While Stardew Valley (and it’s inspirational predecessor, the Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons series) looks like a farming simulator it’s as much a time management simulator instead, and (much like real life) time is definitely a thing it seems like there’s never enough of.
For as much “work” as it can be, though, there are few video games with an experience as satisfying as throwing a bunch of crops you raised into your bin, going to sleep, and seeing that bank account number shoot up. And for those of us sitting on the couch at home, taking a few puffs of weed between Stardew days, the task of tending to farm and town alike makes for a fun, engaging, repetitive task. Importantly, these are also tasks that can be shared – Stardew Valley offers both online and local co-op options on all platforms with it’s latest update, making smoking weed & farming with friends and loved ones easy.
(Re-Logic, 2011 – Playstation 4 | Xbox One | Nintendo Switch | Android & iOS | Linux, Mac, PC & Steam)
We know that Minecraft is pretty standard stoner video game fare, and that’s completely understandable; Minecraft is an innovative, fun game that appeals to all ages and types. But what if Minecraft were a little bit more of a “game”, and also not 3D? Then you’d get Terraria, a side-scrolling take on the “mine & survive” genre that boasts a lot of features Minecraft wishes it had.
Interesting weapons, items & equipment to collect? Check. The ability to found and grow your own village, complete with unique (and important) NPCs? Check. Wicked boss fights you essentially need to craft your own arena to fight in? Super check.
With a wide variety of biome types in each spawned world Terraria has tons of content to explore, and when you’re not, say, chasing down skeletons in the depths of the dungeon, Terraria’s crafting and building systems give the creative-on-cannabis sorts plenty of options to play with while enjoying their THC. Plus, rather than being high and alone, you can play online with friends, or even check out split-screen local coop on console (sadly no split-screen on PC yet).
(Niantic, 2016 – iOS & Android)
You’re high, so go for a walk – Nature’s lovely when you’re blazed, and if you can catch a Pikachu while you’re at it all the better.
We’ll keep this one brief, since unless you’ve been living under a literal rock you’ve probably heard of Pokémon Go by now (and even if you have been living under a rock, odds are someone’s already lifted it up trying to catch a Diglett), but if you’re wanting to put a bit more meaning behind a stoned stroll through the park? Pokémon Go has you covered (or if you can be patient and want to wait for more Nintendo AR fun, Niantc’s similar Pikmin-themed title is shortly around the corner).
(Enhance Games, 2018 – Playstation 4 | Xbox One | PC, VR & Epic Games Store)
Sometimes, the best games to play in an altered state are the ones that actively try to alter your state further, and in that regard Tetris Effect knows exactly what it’s doing. Much like the above-mentioned REZ Infinite, Tetris Effect bombards you with bright colors and psychedelic sensations, with pieces pulsing to the beat and the soundtrack growing in layers & strength as the game progresses. All of this lends itself to the titular Tetris Effect; a state of being where the music and puzzle pieces blend together as one, forging a near trance-like mindset of muscle memory and logic.
The game’s name comes from a real thing, commonly listed as a type of “game transfer phenomena”, wherein the brain begins finding tetromino shapes (the little Tetris puzzle pieces) in real life objects or even dreams – A state easy to reach if immersing one’s self in the Tetris Effect via virtual reality. And while Tetris Effect (the game, not the syndrome) can certainly be addicting, if you’ve been hitting the cannabis notably hard it might be best to put the game down before you start trying to stack the household pets.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
(Nintendo, 2017 – Nintendo Switch)
… what. We said we wouldn’t mention too many big name titles. But honestly there’s no gaming experience quite like Mario Kart, and its imitators are usually left in the dust by Nintendo’s incredibly well-crafted arcade racer series. There isn’t much need to wax on about Mario Kart; the latest in the series, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch, is exactly what you and all your friends want from a fun time getting high & playing video games on the couch. Just don’t be That Friend who takes a massive rip right before a Rainbow Road track.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
(Arc System Works, 2018 – Playstation 4 | Xbox One | Nintendo Switch | PC & Steam)
Super Smash Bros is probably the de-facto “let’s get high and beat each other up in a video game” title, but if you’re looking for a truer fighting game experience that isn’t yet another version of Tekken or Street Fighter, how about hanging out with your old pals Goku and friends?
Doing what it can to take up the mantle of fast-paced 3v3 “dream match” action from the (now lamentably dead) Marvel vs. Capcom series, Dragon Ball FighterZ (or DBFZ for short) takes all your favorite Dragon Ball Z, GT and Super characters and makes them do what they do best – Beat the crap out of each other. Playable and fun for both causal gamers and those into high-level fighting game action, DBFZ is a great way to kill time between bong rips.
Again, we could have copped out by just doing yet another article full of titles like the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Animal Crossing: New Horizons or a dozen other video games you’ve heard about hundred times before. But we wanted to branch out a bit in our list of the best video games to play while you’re high, and hope we’ve showed you some potential new favorites.
So kick back, grab a new bag of your favorite strain, pick up the controller and get ready to head out on an adventure – We’re sure you’ll find something to like in our best-of list. Until next time, happy gaming and happy smoking!