It’s not often that you can say a game sparks an existential crisis in you, but that’s what Merge Town! does. It’s a cross between an idle clicker and something like Triple Town, having you attempting to grow a town as fast as possible through various unusual means. Sure, we’ve all had those moments playing idle clickers where we’ve wondered ‘what’s the point?’ but Merge Town! takes that idea and extends it so far that you’re not going to know the answer. It’s a little too repetitive and a little too dull to hook you further than ‘well, I guess I’m sort of achieving something, maybe’, and that’s a crying shame.
Starting out, there’s promise. Merge Town! is quite cute for a game all about building houses. The visuals are charming, and there’s a kind of cartoon style vibe going on. The concept is an easy one to get to grips with too. Every few seconds, you’re given a box which contains a building. The building is placed on the grid and it’s up to you to combine it with another building that matches. Once you combine them, you form a bigger kind of building which again grows if you merge it with another one of the same ilk, and so forth. The idea is that you enjoy seeing what new buildings can be developed. This process can take an exceptionally long time, however. That’s because the bigger the home, the more steps and buildings are required to get there. When each new building is delivered after 10 (or more) seconds, that’s quite a long time to hang around.
There’s in-game money too, which can speed things up. You can buy buildings for an ever growing amount of money, as well as watch adverts to get a free one. Levelling up occurs after you’ve done this numerous times, thereby extending the land on which you can develop. And so you continue. For eternity.
Early on it might feel like you’re actually achieving something through unlocking new buildings, but you soon realize that this doesn’t involve unlocking new things to do. The basic concept remains the same, and it’s really not that exciting. You can unlock new towns at regular points, giving you somewhere new to develop, but it’s still roughly the same thing. You’re just looking at different buildings and dealing with a longer timer.
That’s about when you start questioning how you’re spending your free time. Busywork in games is an almost necessary evil sometimes. It works to extend the longevity of the games, but also provides you with a sense of achievement. Merge Town! never gives you a worthy enough sense of achievement to make you want to play for any longer than the brief time you’re duped into thinking this might be fun.
It’s an argument that could extend to many idle clickers, but usually the genre offers titles that distract you from realizing how futile things are. Merge Town! hardly does this, and it certainly doesn’t last for any great deal of time. Throw in the fact that there are just too many adverts available to you, either through your own choice or in a compulsory manner, and Merge Town! just isn’t much fun. There’s too little game in here to keep you amused for longer than a few minutes.