I Tried Sleeping to the 90-Minute Zachtronics Drug Game Song

MOLEK-SYNTEZ is a game about crafting drugs out of household chemicals, but with ambiance.

I like sleeping with music on. It helps drown out never-ending thoughts about all the work I should be doing, and the sound of my two horrible cats trying to hang upside down from the bottom of my bed at 3 a.m. Minnesota Public Radio is a personal favorite. It plays classical music (with no lyrics for me to focus on) throughout the night. But then it usually wakes me up with news about some hateful shit the president did one time zone ahead of us. So I often look for more ambient tracks — stuff like the single, 90-minute song from MOLEK-SYNTEZ, a game about making drugs in future Romania.

I haven’t played the game itself. But based on the Steam page, and testimony from my co-worker merritt, it’s like a lo-fi Opus Magnum (also by developer Zachtronics). It’s a puzzle game where you combine molecules from household objects to make drugs. It seems very chill. Although there’s an eerie edge to it that really comes through in the music.

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You can buy its one and only hour-and-a-half song yourself on Bandcamp for $1. Or you can just listen to it. You should hear what I mean pretty quickly. There is something… slightly off about the ambient noise. The white noise, sounds of water dripping, and even some stuff that sounds slightly like rainfall all work exactly the way I want for “go to bed” sounds. But the oppressive, crackly edge to it all is almost like a subliminal muscle un-relaxant.

Trying to sleep to it last night, I found myself unable to stop listening, but far from relaxed. I kept waking up every 20 minutes or so. Although that might have been because of the cats again… I’d hear the song was still on, sit there thinking “Yep, this is still stressing me out.” But I was never actually put off enough to turn it off. I felt completely neutral this morning, too — neither as well-rested as when I completely skipped coffee last Sunday, nor as tired as I was when I stayed up till 2 a.m. playing Disco Elysium on Tuesday. Hello, and welcome to my science.

Based on the game’s Early Access trailer, I’m guessing the weird blend of comfort and unease is intentional. The video is cut with text of someone (presumably the player character) unsure if they should stay inside or go outdoors. Inside they have the comfort of endless, rewarding tasks. But outside is where we keep all the sunlight and exercise. Extremely same, my disembodied Romanian future friend. Same.

Ironically, though, I don’t usually love Zachtronics games — which are usually about endlessly repetitive (and dopamine rich) tasks. MOLEK-SYNTEZ already has a built-in GIF-maker to share your pleasant-to-look-at puzzle solutions. Opus Magnum was the same way. But these games just completely break my brain in a way that is not satisfying. I am excited to try Eliza, though. That’s Zachtronics’ visual novel from earlier this year. It’s on my Game of the Year backlog, which I will absolutely, definitely, 100 percent complete before December.

How about you? Are there any game soundtracks you like to fall asleep to? How do you feel about this one? Honestly, I’m mostly asking because I could really use some new ones myself… I can only listen to “Night Rain” from Persona 5 so many times before I flip out and try to tear down society with my cool friend gang. Let me know in the comments!

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Steven Strom

An obsessive writer broadcasting to you live from the middle of nowhere. Thinks cute things are good, actually.

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