What's great about video games is that they allow us to create things beyond our wildest imaginations. And some developers have pushed the boundaries of their imagination by creating psychedelic-themed video games. It's difficult to imagine what a game based on that premise would look like if it came to fruition, but it has transpired many times before. As a result, we've put together a list of the top five psychedelic role-playing games of all time. As we believe these are the best examples of what that premise can elicit in a video game.
Things are going to get strange fast. However, you've most likely come here because you're looking for something exotic, but equally immersive and story-rich. That's why we've compiled a list of the best psychedelic role-playing games to quench your thirst for all things beyond your imagination. So buckle up, set aside your prejudices, and immerse yourself in some of the best psychedelic role-playing games on this list.
5. The Artful Escape
What better way to begin a list of psychedelic role-playing games than with one based on music? Music has always been influenced by psychedelics, and it's no coincidence that the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. That's why Annapurna Interactive's brilliant minds combined these two elements in The Artful Escape, a psychedelic musical journey. This game is a visual spectacle with an original soundtrack and a pretty solid story to tie everything together.
You take on the role of Francis Vendetti, a teenage guitar prodigy who embarks on a psychedelic journey to confront the legacy of a deceased folk legend while also inspiring his new stage persona. The game is meant to represent an artist's journey into their imagination and creativity, rather than just what they know or are limited to. This is brought to life by some breathtakingly beautiful, psychedelic-inspired visuals, as well as a very rich soundtrack. If you want to dive headfirst into psychedelic role-playing games, The Artful Escape is one of the best places to start.
4. Cruelty Squad
We warned you that things would get weird fast, and Cruelty Squad is proof of that. With this entry, Developers Consumer Softproducts really let their imagination run wild. As a result, this title is a perfect fit for this list. Cruelty Squad is a tactical shooter and fantasy simulator like none other. You play as an emotionally dead combat-fueled Cruelty Squad grunt working as a hitman for the liquidated corporations that rule this world in a dystopian corporatocracy.
That's a lot to take in, but it's all part of the story of this psychedelic action adventure. And there are a lot of stranger things within that premise to wrap your head around. Nothing in Cruelty Squad can be made sense of; its depictions are chaotic, nonsensical, and frequently bizarre as they should be. The game is a truly avant-garde expression of artwork, challenging the entire premise of early video game conception. It's one of the best the genre has to offer but often gets judged too quickly. So don't dismiss it until you've tried it as Cruelty Squad is a true muse for all psychedelic role-playing games.
Mind-bending realities are another thought that comes to mind when you think of psychedelics. And developers Pillow Castle has taken that concept to new heights in Superliminal. The game is a first-person, mind-bending puzzle game that completely defies your understanding of depth and perspective. If you want to stretch and open your mind to realities that are not possible in our world, Superliminal will deliver.
The goal is to use the ambiguity of depth and perspective to escape your surreal dream. In order to escape this dream reality, you must reject everything you know about your reality and think completely outside the box. Your journey is accompanied by a narrator who is actively attempting to guide you and make sense of this dream reality, which is where significant role-playing elements come into play. If you want to test your ability to not think practically, Superliminal is a psychedelic-inspired adventure worth trying.
2. Alice: Madness Returns
Most of us are familiar with the story of Alice in Wonderland; however, Spicy Horse Games has delivered a sequel to that story with Alice: Madness Returns, which incorporates much more dystopic themes than any depiction of the tale we've ever seen. It truly tests the limits of what Wonderland can hold and how dark and grim it can become. It's definitely more of a horror-psychedelic-inspired game, but it puts you right in the role-playing shoes of Alice.
As Alice, your goal is to delve deeper into Wonderland to discover the source of your insanity. As Wonderland has become a place of torment rather than solace. The game may be considered out of date in today's world, but it's a complete story that really expands on the concept of a horrifying fantastical land. That's why, if you're looking for the best psychedelic role-playing games of all time, Alice: Madness Returns was one of the first to try the concept and remains as one of the best to do so.
1. Psychonauts 2
Psychonauts 2 is a psychedelic-inspired platform adventure game with a focus on psychological themes. As a result, the two complement each other well and are a perfect fit for this list of the best psychedelic role-playing games. The lighthearted and comedic story follows Razputin “Raz” Aquato as he enters a brain and attempts to navigate its inner workings in order to uncover and solve a mystery. Furthermore, Raz, facing a murderous psychic villain, must take matters into his own hands in order to restore peace to his team of psychic super spies.
The award-winning story is easy to get into, and the gameplay is full of psychedelic-inspired adventures. Your journey will take you to many unexpected places, making for an unlikely tale with a heartwarming story. That is why, if you want everything strange, unusual, and out of this world, Psychonauts 2 is a psychological and psychedelic adventure you don't want to miss out on.