Some people play video games to relax, some play to escape, but most of us play to explore things we wouldn’t dream of doing in real life. Therefore, it’s no surprise that video games often explore some of the most popular and dangerous vices around. Drugs, and more specifically their mind-bending effects, are depicted in some incredibly vivid – and sometimes terrifying – ways in video games. These are more than just eating a mushroom or two in Super Mario World; these are the top 8 most mindbending depictions of drugs in video games.
One of the most iconic franchises of late, Bioshock sees the player in an underwater city (or more recently a floating one) struggling to survive and find the answers that lie hidden deep within it. Outside of the more traditional option of firearms, the player is armed with Plasmids, a type of stem cell that can grant individuals ridiculous powers like telekinesis or the ability to control a swarm of bees. Unfortunately, these powers come at a cost: Plasmids are extremely addictive and cause the body to quickly deteriorate when abused. In the meantime, though, controlling a swarm of bees or setting your enemies on fire might just be worth a bad trip or two.
If you’ve played Uncharted before, you know Nathan Drake is no stranger to some seriously life threatening scenarios. However, few come close to getting shot with a tranquilizer dart filled with a psychotropic drug. Nathan immediately realizes what’s wrong, but it’s not long before he’s sprinting bewildered through the streets of Ubar, taking the player along for the ride on a mindbending trip.
Far Cry 3 took an already fantastic series in a brand new direction, but few expected the wild left turns this game would provide. In one of the game’s most memorable scenes, we find Jason, our protagonist, taking a strange type of hallucinogenic drug to help his guide Citra find a mysterious object. Jason gets far more than he bargained for though, and begins the quick descent into a violent, mysterious, and transformative experience unlike anything else in the video game medium yet.
The Fallout series has always been known for its depth and detail, and they don’t cut corners when it comes to drugs, either. Chems, as they’re known in the Fallout universe, span a wide variety of different substances and effects. There are Mentats, an allusion to study drugs like Adderall, Med-X functions as a type of steroid, and Psycho plays a role similar to crack cocaine or PCP. However, Fallout’s realism doesn’t serve just to provide some fun drugs to try. Just like in real life, you’ll get addicted, and if you stop taking them you’ll go through a painful withdrawal that can actually be life-threatening.
When people talk about games where you can do anything, Grand Theft Auto is almost always in the conversation. The series has an infamous past, but with better graphics and storytelling, the franchise is able to tackle some incredible – and strange – things. Michael, one of the protagonists of the game, is driving with his son from a drug deal when he offers Michael a drink. He begrudgingly accepts and almost immediately starts showing all the telltale symptoms of ketamine use: drowsiness, hallucinations, and disorientation. Michael passes out on the side of the road, only to awaken surrounded by a troop of monkeys. Before he can get a grip on his ever-dissipating reality, he’s swept up in an alien abduction, experimented on, and dropped out of the ship above the city. Michael plummets downward, the player along for the ride, as past memories and hallucinations plague Michael until he finally hits the pavement.
The Witcher franchise has quickly become one of the most popular RPGs out there, and for good reason. Loveable characters, an incredible story, and a thorough and talented development team make this game one of a kind. Despite having a more serious tone than previous entries in this list, The Witcher isn’t afraid of having a little fun and treating the player to one of the craziest drug trips in video game history. The main character, Geralt, consumes a potion rife with psychedelic drugs and finds himself in a strange world of giant mushrooms and chickens. Watch the too-strange-to-believe sequence below.
Surgeon Simulator, the ridiculously difficult and comical game in which you control a very uncoordinated surgeon attempting complex procedures slipped a few secrets in here and there for players to find. One of the best of these is the green syringe, which is normally used as an anesthetic for patients. Due to the uncoordinated nature of our hapless surgeon, it’s fairly easy to stab yourself with it, and when you do, you’re in for quite a trip. Almost immediately you’re visually assaulted with hallucinations and a screen tinged in deep purples and vibrant greens. For those curious, it’s not impossible to complete the surgery while high, but you’re certainly in for a challenge.
Batman’s past is one that’s common knowledge even to those who have never picked up a comic book. The violent deaths of both of his parents spurned him to become the crime fighting, arguably unstable Batman we all know and love. This past that still haunts Bruce Wayne, and provides us with what is probably the most surreal and well-executed depiction of the effects drugs can have on the mind in all of video game history. Scarecrow, a villain known for using a mind-altering substance on his victims, poisons Batman, causing him to vividly hallucinate his dead parents and sends him spiraling into an uncontrollable hallucination and one of the gaming’s most memorable boss fights. Batman proves triumphant, but the brief and twisted high provides one of the most unique insights into the dark and disturbed mind of the Caped Crusader.