You think you’re conscious, but you’re not entirely sure. You don’t remember waking up, and if you did, you certainly don’t remember how long ago. All there may ever have been is this hazy, hot, uncomfortable limbo. The vague memories of your life before it may themselves have been a dream, for all the plausibility of any emotion or experience beyond the pain of this thirsty, bone-aching, thought-sucking hell.
You slither out of bed and crawl to living room. You drag yourself like a busted Terminator over to the sofa, fall upon it with the impact of an dinosaur-wiping asteroid, and try to think of a game with which to sooth your tortured mind. But they’re all too loud, or too reliant on skill, or too fast-paced, or have narratives you couldn’t possibly concentrate on through your current haze of hot-skulled stupidity.
But fear not, friends. Games can have the answer to this disgusting state. They require very careful choosing (after all, the trip back to the shelf if it all goes wrong is hardship enough to make you give up on the whole escapade), but choose carefully we have. This list is tried and tested, and one weekend soon, it may save your life.
There are certain inarguable criteria that a game must fulfil in order to be a safe and therapeutic hangover experience. It must be engaging enough to distract from the pathetic misery being suffered in the real world, but not complex enough to tax the pathetically detuned brain suffering said misery. It must have a pleasant, but not dull, ambience. It must provide a sense (or at least illusion) of real achievement and progression in order to massage the sufferer’s hideously mangled sense of self-worth, but should never require much in the way of serious skills. And there should never, ever, be any major penalty for being rubbish. Because the hungover gamer will be. At all times.
Above: GodFinger will make it all okay, even if you feel like the guy on the left
GodFinger, the marvellous little 2D god-game from Wonderland Software, achieves all of these goals with such effortless finesse that it’s like a cyborg app sent back from the future to save the world’s drinkers from themselves. Soothing, breezy, summer’s day atmosphere? Check. None-more-instinctive, drag-and-drop interface, letting you spin, scale and modify a whole planet at the flick of a finger? Check. A sedate, player driven-pace, total lack of pressure, rapid levelling-up, and building objectives that auto-complete over the course of hours, inciting no pressure to micro-manage at all? Check check check.
Above: Ignore the plonky tune. In game all you'll hear are light breezes and tweeting birds
It can even be run in the background and give you a gentle nudge whenever it needs you to do anything, so you can take intermittant snooze breaks and still form a full-functioning planetary society over the course of an afternoon. Perfect. GodFinger is just perfect for a hungover day. My last Saturday afternoon proved this beautifully.
Dynasty Warriors (Various)
If however, your poor mind is so far gone that only outright oblivion is a workable release from your pain, you need to go deeper. You need a drawn-out, one-note, utterly monotonous, yet strangely compulsive task. You need something that you can lock your brain into with total focus, but which will never require it to hit a single gear above neutral. You need comfortable repetition and simple rewards. In short, you need Dynasty Warriors.
MASH MASH MASH MASH MASH MASH SMASH MASH SMASH MASH SMASHY MASHY SMASHY MASH MASH MASHY MASHY SMASH MASH SMASHY SMASHY SMASHY MASH. That’s it. That’s all there ever will be, and that’s all that needs to be, when your head feels like it’s falling out of your arse through Olympic booze consumption.
It’s pointless, but instantly gratifying. It’s bog-simple, but weirdly satisfying as long as you don’t think too much (which you won’t). And it’s utterly, mindlessly, pioneeringly repetitive, which means that in terms of separating your brain from cruel, hungover reality, there is no better therapy. It’s just like a lobotomy, only it doesn’t last as long.
If instead, you want to drown out the heady maelstrom of pain, self-loathing and paranoia with something more sedate and calming, then Flower is the one for you. A thorough dousing of cool ambience, delicate aural therapy, and gameplay so dreamlike that you can slump in and out of semi-drunken consciousness without even noticing, it’s ideal if you want to replace your hungover head with one filled with peace, colour and gentle thoughts. You stinking hippie.
It’s controlled with broad sixaxis tilts, so your sloppy, uncoordinated, detox-driven hand shakes won’t be an issue. There are absolutely no enemies or penalties, and you get to play as the goddamn wind, fuggodsake, manipulating daintily swirling flower petals through a peaceful meadow. It’s all the soothing, head-clearing pleasure of being outdoors in the country on a sleepy summer’s day, only without the eyeball-searing agony of actually being outdoors and having to deal with the hellish burden that is real sunlight. Ideal.
GamesRadar is the premiere source for everything that matters in the world of video games. Casual or core, console or handheld - whatever systems you own or whatever genres you love, GamesRadar is there to filter out what's worth your time and to help you get even more from your games. We deliver the best advice, the most in-depth features, expert reviews, and the essential guides for all the top games.