The clicker genre has made huge strides on mobile this year. We’ve seen plenty of games that have played around with the fundamentals of it, changing things up to entice players who might have been put off by the simplicity of the first generation — and Crusaders of the Lost Idols does exactly that. There’s meat on its clicky bones, but it still remains a staunchly casual experience all the same — and it’s the sort of casual experience that casual detractors aren’t going to be able to find much wrong with. This is an entertaining idler that keeps you interested with new spells, new characters and new formations. And if any of that sounds interesting to you you should probably pick it up and give it a go.
The game sees you controlling a ten-strong army of little warriors. Most of them do damage automatically, although your starting character needs you to tap to smash monsters in the face. Every monster you kill chucks a bunch of coins at you. You can spend these coins on new characters or toughening up the ones you’ve already got. The tougher your characters get, the more damage they do. The more damage they do, the more monsters you can kill. It’s a deliciously simple compulsion loop.
And the game continues when you’re not looking at it. Leave it alone for a few hours and when you’ll come back you’ll find you’ve gained a ridiculous amount of money. Buy some new characters, figure out what they do, and then wander off to do something else again while the cycle repeats in your absence.
There’s a sort of story going on here, but it’s really just window dressing and a series of jokes. It’s nice that it’s there, and it adds to the world that the game tries to build. Presentation-wise it’s decidedly simple, but endearing at the same time.
But don’t think this is a game without complexity. There are layers of tactics if you’re willing to look into them. They’re not exactly essential, and you can win with brute force and waiting. But each character you collect has a set of special moves, and you can change their effectiveness by moving them around in your formation. There are boss fights, different challenges to complete, and plenty of characters to collect. You can give them equipment too to change the DPS they deliver, or change some of their other attributes. Essentially it’s a very, very lite RPG.
But it pulls it off well. It’s the sort of game that almost encourages you not to play it, so that when you do eventually pick it back up you can spend everything you’ve earned and progress quickly through a bunch of levels. It’s fun at the same time though, and while it’s open about the amount of grind you might need when you get to the later levels, it’s a grind that (thankfully) you don’t really have to do anything about.
This isn’t a huge step forward for the genre, but what it manages to do is make something incredibly accessible more palatable to those who prefer a challenge. And that’s no mean feat. I’m already deep enough into the game that new characters are costing in the trillions to buy, but I still want to see what comes next, and how I can tweak my little band of crusaders to best combat it.