10 Games To Play When You’re Alone, Sad and Drunk
When I lived in Los Angeles, I was depressed a lot because all the people I knew there hated me, and all the folks who didn’t hate me were 2,000 miles away. (Maybe I should be less of a douche, huh?) On top of that, I lived in the smallest room anybody on this side of the Pacific Ocean has ever referred to as a living space.
So I drank a lot. I stumbled upon a Ralphs that had had some really awful fruity vodka on sale for $5 a bottle, and I bought a ton of that s**t, and when I ran out of that, I’d buy grain alcohol from the 7/11. And, naturally, I’d mix my drinking with gaming, and that made my life feel a bit less depressing.
This list contains some of the current-generation games I enjoyed playing the most while I was drunk and suicidal in my tiny room. Each game has a place on this list for a different reason, and I hope that this will come in handy when you find yourself going alcoholic on your own ass (that’s what drinking alone is) because you’re down in the dumps.
Lost: Via Domus
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Note: If you’re not a Lost fan, skip this one.
This game is really bad, but to someone like me who watched the entire series run of Lost when it aired, it carries a weird charm. The whole thing feels wrong from the outset because Steve Blum doesn’t sound anything like Matthew Fox and whoever voices John Locke in this thing is utterly hilarious (unintentionally, of course). And the plot, which is essentially a side story set on the island during the show’s first two seasons, is such a mindf**k, but it’s not the kind that’s cool or thought-provoking.
So why is this a good drunk game? It’s because it’s pretty easy for the most part, and so you can breeze through it without breaking a sweat while just enjoying the ridiculous and poorly written absurdity of it. Be warned, though; if you’re an angry drunk, this might not be for you, because you will almost certainly get lost (hehe) in a cave and fall into giant pits from time to time. I, on the other hand, being jolly drunk, just found wandering in circles in a cave endlessly amusing.
Blitz: The League I/II
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360
I like sports, and I like violence, and the Blitz: The League titles deliver those two things together in a way no other games ever have. You can break the bones of opposing players and do steroids and stuff. Nuff said. You can’t kill people, but you can make them wish they’d been aborted. That’s really the entire appeal of this game, so I don’t really know what else to say. This game is great for one-person after-parties on nights when your football team of choice loses a game.
Jurassic: The Hunted
Developer: Cauldron HQ
Platform: PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii
While this game is in no way a “good” game, it has one very important thing going for it that very few other games have: you spend the entire game shooting dinosaurs. Yeah, it’s a pretty short game — like 4 hours long — but you’ll kill probably a thousand dinosaurs in that time, including a T-Rex or two.
This game managed to lift my spirits during lonely nights of drinking, because when the bad thoughts came, I just yelled that I was gonna kill some goddamn dinosaurs, and my mood instantly improved. And then I shot some goddamn dinosaurs and the world seemed a little brighter.
Grand Theft Auto IV
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Most of us get depressed because we have chemical imbalances in our brains, but there’s usually some outside stimuli that starts the process. GTA IV is a great game to play when that stimuli happens to be a particular person or group of people.
GTA IV’s violence is so effective because it’s very personal. Because the city is so well constructed and populated, your enemies are more than enemies; they’re people living in the city, just like you. That cop you just walked past might end up being a cop you viciously gun down later, for example. the point is that the people you find int he world of liberty City feel like real people, and so it means something to kill them.
That said, when you’re very angry at specific people in real life, it’s easy enough to inhabit the body of Niko or Johnny or Luis, walk around for a bit, find somebody who reminds you of your real-life hater and shoot them in the f**king head. It’s cathartic in a way that I still don’t have the words to fully describe. When you’ve been drinking, this effect increases by many magnitudes.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Admittedly, Portal can be quite difficult to play when you’re really drunk, but it’s OK as long as you stick to the campaign and don’t try to do any of the ramped-up versions of the puzzles. But that’s not why this game is perfect for drunken loners.
Yes, people love the innovative puzzle game that’s at the heart of Portal, but that’s only part of the reason why people dig this game so much. People dig it because GLaDOS is a disarming personality. The things she says are almost abstract humor, so absurd and silly that it quickly distracts the mind from all the things going on in the world outside. Combined with the mindbending gameplay, Portal is a game that, particularly when combined with alcohol, will rebalance your chemicals.
Don’t Shit Your Pants
Developer: Cellar Door
Platform: web browser (play it here)
Don’t Shit Your Pants is the kind of small web game that is perfect for diffusing angst brought on by your drunken state. Like many people who live alone, arriving home by yourself after a night out can be quite a bummer, especially when you’re still falling-down trashed. Not being the kind of person who can come home and go straight to bed, I typically will find myself plopped down on the couch flipping through channels in a daze while I reflect on how everyone I know must hate me because I’m such a belligerent and annoying person when I drink. I start to wonder if anybody still likes me, and my mood goes into the toilet very quickly. All I need at that point is a small, amusing distraction and everything will be OK.
Enter Don’t Shit Your Pants, a very brief text-driven graphic adventure game. The goal is just to get to the bathroom and take a shit in the toilet instead of in your pants or on the floor. It’s tricky, though, as it requires that you be very specific in your instructions, and so everyone who plays it will inevitably screw up and diarrhea in the wrong place on the first try or two. And that’s why it’s funny.
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
If GTA is for very specific drunken, depressed anger, then Prototype is for the type of very general drunken, depressed anger that comes about when you realize the bottle of whiskey you’re drinking will be your last for a while because you’re broke and your electricity is about to be shut off, a situation folks in my line of work are very familiar with.
Prototype is perfect for handling the hostility that kind of day inspires, because Alex Mercer is built for murdering crowds of people at once. the whipfist is my favorite, because it’s fun to jump off a building into a crowd of people and then slice them all in half in one move. F**k people, man.
Darkest of Days
Developer: Phantom EFX
Platform: Xbox 360, PC
Darkest of Days is the tale of a US Army man about to be brutally deathed at the hands of “Injuns” at Custard’s, er, Custer’s Last Stand. Except he doesn’t die and is instead taken to the future by some future people. And then you travel to various times and kill. At first, it seems like the drunk appeal of this game is simply that the voice acting is overwhelmingly atrocious, and, yeah, that totally is great, particularly when this future redneck makes bad jokes at you.
No, Darkest of Days can cure all but the deepest of drunken depressions not by low production values alone; the moment of truth comes when you go back to the Civil War, get in a line with a bunch of Union soldier, pull out a goddamn assault rifle and start mowing down a whole bunch of Confederate patriots (pictured above). It’s a landmark moment in the history of gaming, and it’s all the more powerful when you’re drunk and down.
Developer: Naughty Dog
The Uncharted games are kind of an amalgamation of the things that make many of the above games great for being three emo sheets to the wind. There’s lots of shooting people and/or slamming their heads into rock walls. There’s lots of amusing banter. But the power of Uncharted over the boozy despondent mind is Drake himself. He gets the s**t kicked out of him. He complains about how desperate his situation is. At one point in Uncharted 2, he gets so fed up with what’s going on that he’s about to give up on his quest, but a wise old Nazi (reformed) encourages him to keep up the good fight.
So your drunk ass will get the visceral thrills to slightly improve your mood, and you’ll also gain some subliminal encouragement as Drake’s battle mirrors, abstractly, your mental struggle.
Developer: Media Molecule
Platform: PS3, PSP
Sometimes when you’re further down the black pit of despair than you normally go, it seems like nothing (and certainly none of the other games on this list) will ever be able to bring you back up, and that’s when thoughts of suicide pop up through the sloshy haze.
But what I found in my darkest f**king periods, as Dewey Cox might say, is that LittleBigPlanet, through a combination of shocking level design, cute art and pleasant music, soothes the gamer’s soul in a way that no other game can. This is the true brilliance of what Media Molecule has created.
The deep appeal of LittleBigPlanet has always been difficult to quantify, and when folks try they usually don’t get further than praising how precious it is or how it’s great to be able to build your own level. But the true appeal is the profound calming effect the game’s collective aesthetics have on the player. And that’s why, when all else fails, LittleBigPlanet is the game to end all games for the sloppy, lonely, sad gamer.