There are few things on 4/20 day that pair better than weed and video games. It’s almost as if they were meant for each other. One is an addictive distraction that will keep you stuck on your couch in a daze for hours on end, and the other is a plant that does the same thing. Now, we can’t tacitly endorse doing anything illegal on 4/20 day, so let’s all just pretend this is a “tobacco use only” kind of thing and this list is only by/for folks who enjoy a nice legal smoke in a recreational state. Everyone else can use this for, uh, “reference” until legal marijuana hits their zip codes.
Fez is a great 4/20 day game because it champions one of the great sensations of gaming stoned: hidden depth. On the surface Fez appears to be a simple platformer, but it’s a 2D game in a 3D space, and really more about puzzles that platform hopping. There’s a secret language, loads of discoveries and the delightful, giddy feeling of going “duuuuuuude” over and over. Best of all, it’s got a real chill vibe (something it shares with most of the games on this list). Bonus, it’s considered a triumph of indie game design and if you’re trying to cultivate some artful tastes in your gaming then you need to spend time with Fez to get some street cred with the cool indie kids.
There’s a moment in the life of just about every adult stoner where we see a bunch of children’s toys and think “that’d be fun to play with.” Of course, as an adult you can’t just pop into a random daycare and ask a toddler to pass the abacus. But GNOG is here, a puzzle game that tasks you with finding solutions inside strange robot heads filled with kid’s toy style mechanics. There’s pinwheels and shiny buttons and bells and whistles. The puzzles aren’t child’s play, though. They will definitely require the kind of deep thinking and concentration you’re looking for when you just want to zone out. It’s low pressure, high reward with a wonderfully imaginative setting and, of course, good music.
No Man’s Sky
We know, we know. No Man’s Sky has a less-than-stellar reputation these days after it failed to live up to some serious hype (along with some murky promises Hello Games made along the way). But if you haven’t played it you’d be wise to add it to your 4/20 day festivities. No Man’s Sky is an amazingly chill game. It’s full of gorgeous environments and encourages you to just take things slow, walk around and drink in the scenery. There aren’t punishing objectives and you won’t have any white-knuckle combat moments. Don’t sweat the soundtrack either. It’s not bad, but we recommend you pair a No Man’s Sky session with Dark Side of the Moon to achieve the ultimate 4/20 stereotype. But any of your favorite albums will do.
Another space game for 4/20 day? Yes. But this one offers a much different vibe than No Man’s Sky . FTL is all about white-knuckle space combat. But it’s not a twitchy, reflex heavy experience. You can pause combat to target specific systems on your opponent’s ships, and the constant interplay of targeting priorities vs available power is as close to being on the USS Enterprise as you’re going to get (until Bridge Crew gets here ). It has a FANTASTIC soundtrack. Seriously. A lot of iDigi staffers listen to the soundtrack of FTL when working on long projects. It’s soothing music for a game that constantly keeps you on edge. Plus, play sessions run on the short side (it’s a rogue-like space combat game, so when you die, it’s over and you start again) so there’s no wasted time doing lots of set-up and grinding. Perfect for killing an hour after a 4/20 day sesh and waiting for your takeout to arrive.
Inside is the heaviest game on the list but, hey, not all 4/20 enthusiasts are juvenile wastrels. Some of us like to ruminate and think big, deep thoughts and Inside is absolutely perfect for contemplative game sessions. There’s no dialogue, no overt story. You’re a small child running through some dystopian industrial nightmare chock full of symbolism. Theories on what the game is “about” range from Jesus to sperm cells. Beyond the heavy thinking is a game with wonderful mechanics and a compelling tale to tell even if it has no words.
Not every 4/20 day gaming experience needs to be chill. Guacamelee is an excellent choice for anyone who loves platformers, beat ‘em ups, pro wrestling, indie games or Mexico. It follows the story of a masked luchador wrestler who must save the world from blah blah blah. You get the point. But what makes Guacamelee special is the nuance to its button mashing. You learn new moves at a perfect and by the end of the game are performing so many complex combos you won’t recognize yourself as the player who fumbled with basic punch combos a few hours before. What makes it so 4/20 friendly is that it’s a vibrant, energetic, colorful gaming experience guaranteed to lift your mood even higher and distract you with pure, simple fun.
Stardew Valley might as well be 4/20 day itself. Chill? Check. Full of plants? Check. An embarrassing reason to end up missing work? Check. Stardew Valley rose to prominence on Steam last spring, and has since jumped to consoles, based on its near universal appeal as an accessible, rewarding sim game. On the surface you’re running a farm, but there’s cleverness on top of cleverness as you ultimately begin to explore an endless dungeon or concentrate on building relationships. Visually it’s bright and cute, always a plus for a 4/20 game, but a lot of strategy can be applied, leisurely, to how you manage your life. Stardew Valley keeps you feeling busy while going at a snail’s pace and opens itself both to limited play sessions and all-night binge gaming. It’s addictive and relaxing. Sound familiar?