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Intoxication Mechanic

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Many video games feature alcoholic beverages or other mind-altering substances as items which the Player Character can consume, resulting in Status Effects. In arcade-style video games, this usually comes in the form of a Booze-Based Buff: drinking alcohol causes a character to deal more damage or become impervious to pain.

Some developers, with an eye towards Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay or Painting the Medium, take a different approach, wherein using drugs or alcohol in-game causes an Interface Screw which mimics the effects of intoxication. This can look like:

  • The screen becoming blurry or distorted, representing Single Malt Vision or Impairment Shot.
  • A noticeable lag between player input and the player character's corresponding action, representing a delayed reaction time.
  • The control scheme may be quietly remapped (e.g. pressing left causes the player character to move right, and vice versa) or the controls may become less precise and responsive, representing a lack of muscular coordination.
  • The player character's gait may change.
  • If the player character speaks, they may develop an Alcohol Hic or slur their words.
  • If the player character uses a hallucinogenic substance, the player may be shown things onscreen which don't exist in-universe.
  • The screen may become tilted, representing the player character feeling off-balance.
  • The player character may be unable to perform certain complex actions which they could otherwise perform.
  • The world around the player moves in slow motion, and other people talk slower, too.

This trope is not limited to alcohol or drugs taken voluntarily, and can also apply if (for instance) the player character gets shot with a poison dart, or forcibly injected with a mind-altering substance. This trope is also not limited to video games: many tabletop games feature a mechanic in which a player character being intoxicated will temporarily reduce their player's dice pool, or otherwise hinder their progress.

Note that this is an Intoxication Mechanic: it doesn't count if it's a scripted sequence or Exposition Break which the player has no control over. For that, see Impairment Shot.

Compare Alcohol-Induced Idiocy, Injured Player Character Stage (when the player character gets injured as part of the story, resulting in a change to the game mechanics) and Sanity Meter (some video games track the player character's sanity, and cause Interface Screws such as blurred vision or hallucinations if it gets too low).

Note: Examples have been alphabetized.


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    Adventure Games 
  • House Party (2017): Drinking too much alcohol will make your view a little wobbly and make you have to pee more. However, the real danger comes from Frank noticing if you stole all the alcohol, as he'll fight you and likely knock you into a Game Over.
  • Leisure Suit Larry:
    • In Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards, drinking alcohol at Lefty's Bar temporarily impacts Larry's ability to walk straight, making it impossible to control him.
    • Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude:
      • The core mechanic is a unique Dialogue Tree, in which the player controls a sperm cell which they must navigate down a fallopian tube, hitting green targets (good dialogue options) and avoiding red hazards (which cause Larry to blurt out bad dialogue options, break wind or leer at the breasts of the woman to whom he is speaking). As the player character consumes more and more alcohol, the sperm cell's responsiveness will become progressively more and more sluggish, making it harder to avoid hazards.
      • When the player is exploring the campus, Larry's degree of intoxication affects the gameplay. Any amount of drunkenness above a certain threshold will cause Larry to stagger slightly, and squeans to continually emerge from his mouth. Anything above a second, higher threshold will cause the screen to be covered in particle effects, and Larry will cover his mouth while walking to keep from vomiting. Certain characters will refuse to talk to Larry if his drunkenness is below a certain threshold.

    Board Games 
  • Overlapping with Booze-Based Buff, in Red November, if a gnome has drunk at least one bottle of grog, it will afford them the Liquid Courage to enter a room which is on fire, and will give them a bonus when carrying out repairs. However, each bottle of grog a gnome drinks increases the risk of their passing out.
  • The Sake card in Sushi Go! is valuable (3 points), but when you take it, you have to pick your next card randomly.

    Deck-Building Game 
  • In Griftlands, you can order alcohol at bars to replenish your Negotiation Hit Points. However, doing so adds intoxication cards to your deck that will not be removed unless played. These cards typically cost 2 of the base 3 actions you are allotted each turn, which makes playing these cards burn through the majority of your turn. Your character will slur their speech and sway for a few seconds after these cards are played.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • BioShock: Drinking multiple alcoholic beverages in quick succession will cause the screen to become blurry (see the page image), in addition to slightly boosting the player character's health and slightly depleting his reserves of EVE (in BioShock and BioShock 2) or Salts (in Bioshock Infinite). The player can also find various gene tonics or Vigors which change the effects of alcohol consumption.
  • In the Blood series poisonous spiders temporarily cause Caleb's view to flicker in black, waver and the movement briefly becomes clumsy. The "thieves" in Blood II: The Chosen also make the screen blurry and distorted as long as they're latched onto your head.
  • Bullet Storm allows players to find and drink bottles of booze, causing the screen to get blurry. Killing enemies in this state will give your shots the "Intoxicated" buff, which earns more bonus points.
  • Deep Rock Galactic: The various drinks at the bar have different levels of cumulative intoxication, and the dwarves you play can go from merely tipsy enough to have slightly wobbly vision to so outright tanked they stumble around struggling against your control, have blurry double-vision, and start spewing nonsense, until they finally pass out completely and wake up at the medical ward. Heading into a mission while plastered is heavily discouraged thanks to the sheer intoxication messing with your aim; fortunately, Leaf Lover's Special is the cheapest drink at the bar and causes instant sobriety no matter how hard you were boozing.
    • Passing out also sobers you up so some players prefer to sober up before a mission by drinking a Blackout Stout (which gets you drunk enough to pass out) instead.
  • Deus Ex: Overlapping with Booze-Based Buff, drinking an alcoholic beverage will net the player two points of health, at the cost of temporarily blurred vision.
  • In DUSK, your aim will wobble if you drink too many bottle of beer at once. The game will tell you if you're intoxicated.
  • Vermintide II: In the anniversary event "A Quiet Drink", ale grants a stacking boost to attack speed and power, Critical Hit chance, and cooldown regeneration, but the bonuses turn to penalties if you go too long without drinking, and you fall over if you drink too much at once. There's also the minor issue of the heroes doing a drunken pub crawl through a monster-infested city...
  • XIII: In the boss fight against Dr. Johansson, Johansson can stab the player character with a sedative syringe. This causes the player character to drop his current weapon, and the whole screen goes wibbly-wobbly with a green filter for a few seconds.

  • Board Game Online: Drugs and alcohol affect the player in different ways. While alcohol mostly just gives the player an Alcohol Hic, drugs can have a variety of buffs and debuffs. Meth, for example, gives the player extreme focus and immunity, but also dehydration; weed makes you stoned and hungry, and cocaine gives you boosted speed, with the chance for addiction and burnout to follow.
  • In Mission Elevator, consuming alcohol at the bar resulted in your direction controls being swapped.

  • Alcohol in EverQuest starts off by giving a minor strength buff at the cost of very slight visual impairment, nothing more than a slight screen blur. Continued consumption then sees your character swaying back and forth as you move, a significant drop in Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, and Agility stats, and your vision becomes extremely distorted as if looking through a telescope. It usually takes more than half an hour for the effects to wear off.
    • EverQuest II doesn't impair your stats in combat when you get drunk, but it does severely impair your vision. The screen starts to get fuzzy and blurry before higher amounts of intoxication leads to the player seeing quadruple on anything they look at. There are some potions that sober your up, but otherwise it can take more than half an hour for the effects to wear off.
  • Guild Wars has That One Sidequest that involves completing a series of increasingly difficult challenges while getting increasingly drunk.
  • Guild Wars 2 has a range of alcoholic beverages: some that you need to drink if you're trying for an achievement, some that act as buffs during special events, and some that are just there for players who want to bar-hop across Tyria. Drink too much of any of them, and the screen image begins to ripple.
  • Kingdom of Loathing:
    • Adventurers can drink alcoholic beverages to restore their adventurous spirit, allowing them to take more adventures for the day. However, if they drink more alcohol than their liver can handle, any attempts to adventure will be replaced with a drunken adventure, resulting in inconveniences like taking a small amount of damage or losing a small amount of meat.
    • Using goofballs provides an adventurer with a decent boost to muscle and moxie. However, once it runs out, the adventure starts the next day with a penalty to all stats. Additionally, each dose starting with the seventh dose on a given playthrough reduces the adventurer's stat experience by an increasing amount.
  • Some consumable items in Realm of the Mad God, such as the Pirate Rum or Saint Paddy's Brew, can inflict the "Drunk" status effect on the player, which either blurs the screen or heavily warps the screen depending on whether hardware acceleration is disabled or enabled. There's also the Vintner of Oryx, an enemy that throws wine bottles that inflict Drunk upon any player they hit.
  • In RuneScape, alcoholic drinks will slightly increase the player's Strength stat (how strong their attacks are), but will subtract from their Attack stat (how accurate their attacks are); over time, these stats will return to normal. The Strength gain is capped, but the Attack decrease is not, meaning it's possible to drink your way to 0 Attack, but not possible to drink your way to 99 Strength.
  • In World of Warcraft, it starts with the character feeling tipsy, then drunk and finally "completely wasted" with increasingly noticeable effects. At first, the game starts tampering with the words the player writes so the characters seems to be slurring their words (even adding hiccups to sentences). After that, a character who keeps drinking will be unable to even walk in a straight line regardless of what the player does, the screen will be more and more blurred, the enemy creatures will appear to be lower in level than they actually are, and the character will end up vomiting a lot and/or dropping down. If you do this in some areas of Outlands, you can even see pink elekks.

  • Conker's Bad Fur Day: In certain segments, Conker has to drink from barrels of booze which grant him the ability to pee on things. During these moments his walking controls are harder to manage, and after some time passes, he develops a hangover and has to walk to a specific zone to take medicine, vomiting at random intervals until then and leaving himself vulnerable to attack.
  • In Fantasy World Dizzy there's a bottle of whiskey, whose only function if drunk is to temporarily flip the left and right inputs.
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island: Certain levels feature an enemy known as Fuzzy. Touching these enemies directly in any way results in Yoshi having a stoned-out face and staggering back and forth, while the music becomes distorted and the level graphics warp and undulate for a while until the effects wear offnote .
  • Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation: if a scorpion poisons Lara the view begins to waver until either a med kit is applied or Lara dies. Oddly, her movement isn't impaired at all - it's just a camera effect.
  • Wario Land 2: among the enemies that Wario encounters are penguins with beer steins that chuck beer at Wario getting him drunk, resulting in him walking backwards and attacking by burping. In national releases, the steins are changed to balls, and Drunk Wario was renamed Crazy Wario, but the function is the same.

  • Barony: Drinking alcohol causes the player's view to begin wobbling around, with the center of the screen not necessarily matching up to where the player is actually aiming their weapons and spells. This is also an Inverted Trope when playing as a Goatman, who need to keep drinking in order to stave off a hangover that has the same effect that being drunk has on the other races.
  • The Binding of Isaac: The Repentence DLC adds the Wavy Cap, a mushroom active item that temporarily increases Isaac's fire rate in exchange for temporarily lowering his movement speed and distorting the screen every time it's used. The more times it's used, the stronger the effects get, and after quite a few uses the screen is tinted with bright, shifting colors in addition to the distortion effect.
  • For the King: Some booze-themed consumables, like rum and Hildebrant's Reserve wine, grant power-ups but inflict the Status Effect "Confused", randomizing the character's actions for a turn or two.
  • Nethack: drinking a Potion of Booze makes you confused, unless it is blessed. If cursed, you'll also pass out for some time.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Arcanum: Drinking increases strength but reduces accuracy with every drink downed.
  • Divinity: Original Sin and Original Sin II: Consuming alcohol has a chance to inflict the "Drunk" Status Effect, which penalizes several stats, but does make the character luckier. In the sequel, characters who keep drinking while drunk will get knocked out.
  • Fable: Drinking lots of beer will cause a worsening waver in the screen and eventually make the Hero vomit.
  • Fallout 4: Using too many drugs or drinking too much alcohol can make the Sole Survivor addicted, giving them a small penalty in stats (different addictions give different debuffs). It can be cured through visiting a doctor, eating a radscorpion egg omlette or drinking a refreshing beverage.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect 2: Shepard can get drunk by ordering too many drinks at one of several bars in the game, making the graphics blurry and distorted, although this doesn't have any tangible gameplay effects, since Shepard cannot get drunk during combat missions. Nevertheless, a sidequest on Omega requires Shepard to first get drunk to order ryncol, while an unmarked story event on Ilium has the Matriarch Aethyta's appearance change drastically when Shepard is drunk, as opposed to sober — no explanation is ever given for this, however. Later, Shepard can share a drink with Dr. Karin Chakwas in the medbay, during which you get to learn more about her character. While this does not impact gameplay, the player's entire screen will be fuzzy while it tilts and sways for about 10 seconds after.
    • In Mass Effect 3, if the player chooses Chakwas for their ship rather than Dr. Chloe Michel, Shepard can again share a drink with her in the medbay, with the same effect.
  • In NieR: Automata, it's possible to buy a special drug for androids from resident Mad Scientist Jackass. Consuming it will temporarily cause various types of Interface Screw that will alter the sound and/or the image, such as the screen getting pixelating or the music turning 8-bit; although it won't directly harm your character.
  • The Witcher: While Geralt doesn't drink for fun, most of his alchemical concoctions are alcohol-based (and many contain additional ingredients like hellebore, mistletoe and wolfsbane), so drinking too many of them puts him in an intoxicated state, characterized by distortions in the game graphics, as well as his character model swaying randomly side to side when walking. Fortunately, this only lasts for a short while (justified by the witcher's enhanced physique).

    Simulation Game 
  • In Stardew Valley, drinking any type of alcohol (including the ones given to you by Shane and Elliott during certain heart events) will cause the Tipsy debuff, which lowers your speed by 1 point.
  • Surgeon Simulator 2013: Among the tools that can be used in each stage are a pair of syringes that can either speed up a patient's bleeding or stop it. Pricking yourself on the needles, even accidentally, will result in you experiencing effect for the rest of the mission. One syringe reverses your controls while the other messes up your vision.

    Sports Games 
  • The ZX Spectrum game Dartz had this. The game was a vicious satire of the "sport" as it was perceived in the UK at the time, where fat sweaty drunks watched fat sweaty drunks throw small arrows at a board and this was somehow considered prime time television entertainment and a real sport for fat sweaty drunks to watch at homenote . Intoxication was an integral part of the game. You drank with every dart — increasing your blood alcohol content —, and were bought drinks by supporters, so you had to drain your drink when this happened, which further increased your ebriety level. You could have your drink spiked by hostile fans of your opponent, increasing the amount of alcohol consumed per dart. As your intoxication level increased (signified by various adjectives - the progression is Giggly > Dizzy > Tipsy > Merry > Drunk > Legless > Smashed > Paralytic > Past Help > death), your darts skills deteriorated - your dart could miss the targeted area and hit another part of the board, bounce off a wire or even miss the board entirely. You could also suffer other mishaps, such as the floor giving way under your alcohol-bloated weight. It was almost impossible to finish a match, as you'd nearly always die of alcohol poisoning before getting to that point. You can watch a playthrough here.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • A very early example in computer games is the original Castle Wolfenstein (1981). Your character can find alcoholic beverages (such as liebfraumilch wine or schnapps) in chests. Whenever your character drinks them, the direction your gun is aiming can't be reliably controlled for a while.

    Survival Horror 
  • Manhunt: Getting shot with a tranquillizer dart causes the screen to blur and temporarily prevents the player from aiming with a gun.

    Tabletop Gaming 
  • GURPS has rules for everything, including this, with a Drunkeness Scale, and mechanics for how far you end up along it and what the effects are. There are various modifiers including the Alcohol Tolerance advantage and the Carousing skill (someone who knows what they're doing is less likely to get drunker than they intended). Discworld Roleplaying Game adds rules for Klatchian Coffee and knurdishness.
  • Red Dragon Inn: Each player begins at maximum Fortitude and zero Alcohol Content. When the two stats meet (as brawling and other effects decrease Fortitude and drinking increases Alcohol Content), that player's character passes out, eliminating the player from the game.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: Characters have a Consume Alcohol Skill Score for immoderate drinking. Failed skill rolls inflict worsening, wide-ranging skill penalties (including on future tests, naturally), and ultimately end in randomized Alcohol-Induced Idiocy.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • The 2005 remake of NARC featured various drugs which the player character could ingest, causing various status effects such as blurred vision, Bullet Time, hallucinations, coloured filters etc.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Dead Rising: If you drink too many alcoholic healing items at once, it results in your character stopping to throw up uncontrollably for a while.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
  • There's a Minecraft mod that allows you to brew beer and get drunk, which gives a warped visual effect to simulate intoxication.
  • Red Dead Redemption: If Marston drinks five or six alcoholic beverages in a row, he will begin to stumble while walking, and can very easily fall over. The effects last for a variable period of time, until he sobers up. Sporadically, Marston gets blackouts, falling to the ground and lying still for some time.
  • Saints Row and Saints Row 2 allow you to consume both alcohol and marijuana. Alcohol causes the screen to go wobbly and makes movement harder, and will eventually result in your character pausing to vomit. Weed will cloud up the screen and similarly affect movement. In the first game these were paired with Booze Based Buffs (Alcohol increases melee attack power, weed increases damage resistance), but in the second game they are just for fun.
  • While Saints Row: The Third does not have freely consumable alcohol or drugs, one mission sees the Boss having to fight their way through a brothel while high as balls (and also naked), with the controls reacting more sluggishly than usual.
  • Sea of Thieves has grog, naturally. All players have their own refillable mug which they can chug to get drunk. This results in their vision going wobbly and their character moving around on their own, making the simple act of walking forward all the more difficult. The more you drink, the longer-lasting and more pronounced the effects are, and eventually your character starts puking. This has little practical or tactical use in-game; existing solely for fun (though it is possible to blind other players for a few seconds if you manage to vomit on them, but you have no control over when you vomit, nor is it easy to fight normally while drunk).
  • Subverted in Valheim, where all the meads that can be brewed are instead status buffs (regenerating health/stamina, reducing poison/cold/fire damage, etc.).
  • Drinking alcohol in the Yakuza games have had almost no downsides besides possibly attracting more enemy encounters, acting as a strictly Booze-Based Buff. Yakuza 6 gave them a small penalty where maximizing your alcohol tolerance makes controlling your character harder and randomly change your walking direction, though the effect still feels still very minor in combat.