Broke? Game store closed for the night? If you’re reading this then you’ve got everything you need to play some excellent free games right now! In Cheap as Free, we look at fantastic games that won’t cost you a penny, often developed by people who just love games as much as you do.
If you’d told me a few years ago that I would be playing a soda drinking simulation and enjoying it, I would have laughed. Then I probably would have stopped laughing if you hung around, just standing there not saying anything. Mocking me with your gaze. What’s your problem, anyway? Your problem is that you haven’t tried the single greatest soda drinking simulation ever created, because a year ago it hadn’t be created and you would have had to build a time machine just to tell me about it and I just don’t think you’re smart enough to have pulled that off. No offense, I think you’re great beyond the creepy staring and all, just not time-machine building smart. Besides, do you really want to disrupt the space-time continuum just to tell people in the past about Soda Drinker Pro?
Soda Drinker Pro‘s humble beginnings belie the beast it would eventually become. Luckily, I got to speak to Will Brierly, the game’s creator and the genius behind such games as Get Outta My Face, Pixel Clicker, and My Girl: The Game. The story goes that he was thirsty one night, and that gave him the inspiration he needed to create a program that would let you feel what it was like to take a long sip of soda while falling through an invisible black hole in the fabric of space itself.
The simulation is somewhat limited right now, as you only have the opportunity to drink soda in a few places like a park, on a beach, in a castle, in space, or just in a weird room. Your task in these areas is to take a nice, calm walk while drinking your soda, or perhaps to aggressively sidestep in case someone were trying to run after you trying to take your soda. You sidestep faster than you walk in this game, so it encourages you to take swift action in case a soda-hating protester was trying to grab your soda from out of your hands in real life. Since soda-hating protesters tend to have a huge signboard in one hand, it’s easier for them to grab at your soda by thrusting their hands forward in a straight line so they don’t have to work as hard to balance the sign on their shoulder. A simple sidestep in this situation means you could continue your walk with your soda in-hand, and clearly this is something that happens and is important to worry about.
Back to the locations, though. On first glance they seem like they were done quickly in some sort of paint program. Not only are they not photo-realistic, they also seem like they’re trying not to look real at all. Before you run screaming into the streets, you need to realize that there was a very good reason for this. As many media pundits are clearly aware, playing video games hits a switch in the human brain that turns them into the person they are on the screen. There is no way of avoiding this, so all shooter players become remorseless killing machines who will murder everyone around them. This is an irrevocable fact.
The strange, surreal backgrounds are meant to drive home that this isn’t reality; that you can’t just go to outer space and drink a soda without consequences. I think it’s important that gamers have this sort of reminder in their games, as otherwise we would fall into a soda-drinking haze that would eventually lead us to break into NASA so we could steal a space ship. I don’t know if it’s enough to stop the pliable gamer mindset from setting on such a course, but Brierly has done all he can. Since I have yet to purloin any space-faring craft, I have to assume that it’s working.
You may be wondering what else you can do in the game besides walking, sidestepping, and trying to use the scenery to keep your muddled gamer mind from taking off on some soda-fueled adventure. Well, what good would these walks be without the aforementioned soda? You can bring the soda, complete with straw, to your lips with a click of the left mouse button. Clicking the right mouse button will apply suction, allowing your in-game avatar to enjoy the refreshing drink. The hyper realism of these two items was almost too much to take. Applying suction without first tipping the cup back is impossible, as the soda wouldn’t be at the optimal angle to be sucked into the straw until the liquid inside had moved into range.
As realistic as that simulation of drinking soda is, it doesn’t factor in the nuances of a full cup of soda versus an empty one. We all know that you don’t actually have to tip the cup back if it’s full, as placing the straw anywhere within it will allow drinking. Again, such decisions were made to keep the raw power of this simulation in check. If it were too real, gamers might not be able to tell whether they were actually out drinking soda or if they were just within the confines of the simulation, and thus they would forget about the needs of their real-world bodies. If you need an example, think of Soda Drinker Pro as The Matrix of soda drinking simulators. To keep our world from being overtaken by robot overseers while we drink simulated soda, such steps had to be taken. Brierly didn’t want us to trap ourselves in his soda simulator by accident, so small hiccups in the realism had to be put in place.
You move on to different locations within the simulation each time you finish your soda, indicated by an on-screen meter. You are allowed to drink as much or as little as you like, taking leisurely sips while walking down the beach or gulping down huge mouthfuls as you hide under the table in the weird room. It’s entirely up to you what you do with the soda once it’s in your hands, giving the player a sense of freedom that open-world games like Skyrim only wish they could. I may have had potions in Skyrim, but once I selected them they were gone. I never got to savor my healing potions as I wandered through a giant’s camp, completely killing any immersion I may have felt in the game. Soda Drinker Pro wants this to be YOUR story about soda, told as YOU like.
Isn’t that exciting? A true, personal narrative of each person’s experience with soda. Will it be a calming tale of a tall drink of soda on a warm afternoon in the vacuum of space? Will it be a story of adventure as you run from imagined enemy hordes, downing gulps of a soda that’s been imbued with all the knowledge of the cosmos? Is it a story of spurned romance; one where you take sullen draws from your straw as you wait at the giant table of the castle, praying your prince or princess will come but knowing their love is for another? By giving you nothing but the soda to drink and a place to do it in, Brierly has given the player a blank canvas upon which to paint their own masterpiece if they have the courage to do so.
What of the bonus sodas, though? Yes, you can pick up more sodas as you move through the game, and yes, they don’t seem to do anything, but does that really matter? Is there nothing in this world that is just good in its own sake? If you are gifted with love, do you ask what that love is doing for you in return? Do you ask if friendship can grant you a power up? Does the mantle of fatherhood need to give you some health back for it to enrich your life? Bonus sodas may not seem to do anything in the game, but it is in receiving these free sodas that our lives are improved. Is it not a joy to come into possession of a free soda? Dare you hold onto that soda, to hold onto that fleeting feeling of glee at your incredible fortune? There is much to be said about savoring this moment, and Soda Drinker Pro lets you feel it many times as you grab each seemingly-useless Bonus Soda.
What about the ones that are out of reach, though? That seems a bit unfair. A cruel taunt for those who strive for soda but aren’t allowed to have it due to problems like not having enough money or having been buried alive in the desert. Brierly hasn’t done this to make fun of the hard place you’re at in your life, but rather to show you how fleeting a soda is. Not everything you desire is within your reach, and sometimes what you desire will take you away from the good things you already have in your life. Those sodas are there to remind you that you must always cherish the soda in your hands, that you must not forget it in your daily aspirations for more and better sodas. It’s life, distilled down to a carbonated image, that Shakespeare couldn’t touch in all of his works.
All wondrous things must someday end, though, and after its initial few levels Soda Drinker Pro comes to an abrupt close. Again, the soda is a reminder of life itself, telling us that all good things will end at some point. These times won’t be of our choosing, but that we should be thankful of the soda we had while it lasted. I cried for six hours after the game ended, weeping so loud that I was evicted from my apartment building. Such was the power of this work, though, and one I believe everyone should experience. If you have ever questioned the existence of a higher power, heard the breeze blowing across the grass on a warm Autumn day, or felt a twinge of heartbreak at the sucking sound your soda made as you neared the ice at the bottom, this game will change your life.
There is nothing like this FPS (First Person Soda). Nothing that has aspired to simulate drinking a soda over a couple of rooms drawn up in MS Paint where you can’t really do anything. Brierly has dared, though, and has offered this experience to you for free. Enjoy it, like life itself, while it lasts.
Soda Drinker Pro will change your life for the better via a free download from the developer’s site.