Clicker games are controversial fare. They literally take a single finger to play, and once you reach a certain point and pay for certain upgrades, they typically play themselves. Speaking of fingers, that’s what people like to point at clicker games when they talk about everything that’s wrong with mobile gaming.
But clicker games (also known as “idle games”) actually had their genesis on Facebook and Java-based gaming sites like Kongregate. In fact, one of the very first clicker games, “Cow Clicker” was engineered to parody the click-click-reward nature of Farmville.
Before long, a certain truth became evident: Clicking things is psychologically satisfying. Regardless of whether or not clicker games “belong” amongst more complex fare, all that tap-tap-tapping can do wonders for easing anxiety. And sometimes you just want the most mindless, no-frills distraction possible when you’re stuck in a line.
That’s probably why games like Clicker Heroes evolved out of the early days of cows and cookies. Clicker Heroes isn’t just about tapping things to make numbers go up (though that’s a big part of the game, obviously). Your actions — and inaction, once you purchase some help –earns gold, buys spells, upgrades your adventurers, and lets you eventually succeed against the game’s hulking bosses.
But interestingly, while Clicker Heroes is more complex than what an average observer might expect from a clicker game, it’s actually a bit simple when stacked up against recent clicker games that feature character-building and quests.
If you’re looking to return to the genre’s roots though, Clicker Heroes is more than fine. You begin slowly, tapping at low-level enemies like goblins and mice-mages. Every kill earns you gold, which you can then funnel into the purchase of your first adventurer. Said adventurer ups the damage you perform with each tap, making kills easier and faster. Ergo, more gold.
With that gold, you can buy bigger, beefier adventurers who automatically attack your foes while you presumably kick back and down some mead at the Inn. The more adventurers you purchase, and the more you level them up and upgrade their abilities, the harder and faster they hit. Of course, you can jump in any time and peck at the screen to speed the killing process along.
Once you kill ten enemies in a level, you’re allowed to progress to the next set of baddies. The higher their hit points, the longer they take to kill — but the more gold you earn.
There are barriers to be mindful of, however. A boss blocks your progress every ten levels, and if you can’t whittle down their hit points within the allotted time limit, you’re not allowed to quest on until you’ve leveled up sufficiently enough to smoke ’em.
Clicker Heroes’ big, colorful bad guys are a lot of fun to wallop, even though they don’t do much beyond stand there and take the abuse. That said, any guilt is negated by the satisfaction of finally killing enough monsters to hire that hero at the bottom of your list who costs six trillion gold coins.
If you detest clicker games, Clicker Heroes won’t turn you into a compulsive clicker. If you’re fond of clickers (however guiltily), or if you remember throwing away hours of your life on the web-based version of the game, your restless finger will thank you for your download.