Starting out in life as a browser game in 2014, Clicker Heroes has since made the leap to mobiles and now it’s reached the ultimate platform – the latest generation of consoles. Essentially, it’s a free-to-play RPG clicker game, where a simple action appears to be all that’s required to progress. After receiving plenty of positive reaction on other platforms, can a game focused on the art of clicking transfer well to a console market full of more complex and interesting games? Will the lack of a price tag help its cause? Surely there’s more to it than just clicking?
Well, it really is as simple as pressing a button, which you are prompted to press immediately upon the game beginning. Each press of the X button causes a set amount of damage to a creature on your screen and when its health is depleted, it disappears and a new one takes its place. When ten creatures have been defeated, you can advance to the next level and so on and so forth. Every fifth level presents a far tougher boss level, with a timer attached to it and if you don’t deplete all its health within 30 seconds, it’ll reset the boss. That’s more or less everything left going on for a whole load of levels, of which there are at least 3600 if achievements are anything to go by.
As far as gameplay goes, that’s your lot which is rather disappointing as I’d like to have more input on the action other than mindless button mashing. But the deeper you go, the more you discover there’s a surprising amount of extra components to enhance the gameplay; starting with the heroes. Heroes can be unlocked and hired upon reaching the required cost in gold – gold is earned for every enemy defeated – and these boost the click damage as well as providing DPS (damage per second) depending on how much you level each of them up.
DPS is every lazy gamers’ dream, because it constantly drains the health of enemies on-screen, meaning you don’t even need to press X. You can literally leave the game running and do something else entirely – no longer do your children or animals have to fend for themselves, just pop off to tend to them and pop back whenever.
Getting back to the heroes, the inventiveness of the many included as hired help is to be commended. Each one has a little back-story in text form within the hero information box and a 2D model of the character to differentiate them all. My personal favourite is ‘Referi Jerator’, the ice wizard, who was the greatest wizard ever until he tripped during a war and fired at his own head, freezing it solid. A wide range of upgrades can also be bought, delivering more damage boosts and generally quick hit abilities. The abilities range from a storm of clicks (auto clicking for 30 seconds) and double DPS, to an increased critical hit chance and receiving gold for every single click for a short while.
Even the weird and wonderful cartoon-like beasts and creatures are unanticipated, given the simplicity and basic nature of the gameplay. The sheer amount of variety and creativity ensures that every so often you’ll see something completely fresh and wacky. The mouse musketeers, battle-ready cats, aggressive flowers and really angry potatoes are rather delightful to semi-distract from the monotony.
With the enemies constantly getting tough, your damage increases and gold earnings increase, all exponentially. You literally go from single digits to thousands, millions and way beyond to ridiculous numerical lengths such as quintillions. There does become a point though where progression gets way too slow, and that’s where it’s probably time to ‘ascend’, which is more or less New Game+. Everything resets apart from any Gilded Heroes – heroes become gilded by chance after a lucky drop from an enemy and these then deal more damage next time round – as well as any Relics or Ancients unlocked. Things will go faster on the next playthrough, before the slowdown hits and you’ll want to ascend once more. It’s a good way to add replayability, especially when after numerous playthroughs I’ve come nowhere close to the later levels.
Free-to-play games have a bit of a stigma, and you’re probably wondering what the catch is – what do they want you to buy? Well, Rubies are the special gems to speed proceedings up, but you don’t have to purchase them necessarily, as they can be found when strange little fish pop up on the screen on rare occasion and you input the button command listed above it. So, you’re only going to be buying Rubies using real money if you’re super impatient, or want to throw cash at the developers as a way of thanking them.
I’m absolutely torn as to how I feel about Clicker Heroes. On one hand, I appreciate the effort in creating a plethora of creatures to defeat, upgrades, heroes and the idea of ascension to try making it further through the worlds. Whilst on the other hand, I deplore the idea of a game bearing such lazy gameplay input of just pressing a button constantly, which in itself becomes obsolete due to DPS. The concept belongs, and I could happily grow addicted to it, on mobile devices and browsers as a simple time-wasting exercise from time to time.
It is free, so you might as well have a look. It’s not all bad; it’s just a shame that Playsaurus couldn’t bring a more exciting game to complement the good little things within.