Some might say that RPGs are little more than running around killing monsters endlessly, all just so that you can eventually level up and then do it all over again with even stronger monsters. For some people this is precisely why they avoid this genre as though it were the plague itself, and yet many others — myself included — continue to find themselves drawn to such games time and time again. Now while some would argue this is because we appreciate the genre’s depth of plot, there are equally just as many hardcore fans that — while rushing to the next fight — skip their way through every conversation and cut scene.
For those whom happen to consider themselves a part of the latter grind-hungry category, then your dream game might finally be here with the recent iOS compatible release of Clicker Heroes (out now, free). Now, assuming it wasn’t already obvious from the title itself, then — yes — this game is another ‘Clicker’ and plays very much like other famous examples: Cookie Clicker, Adventure Capitalist, or even the former-parody Cow Clicker. However — before you consider yawning and/or leaving — I suggest you first read on, as there’s actually a surprising heft of strategy and legitimate longevity to be found within Clicker Heroes.
Now — as is to be expected — the game does begin with your mercilessly tapping away at low-level woodland creatures, very much the same as how virtually any legitimate RPG ever made usually begins. From there you’ll begin collecting valuable coins with which to hire other heroes to aid you in your efforts, the first of which — named Cid — will make each and every one of your own clicks more powerful. The others — however — will fight for you even when you’re not clicking, and they’ll even keep slaying monsters while the game is turned off entirely (meaning you’ll always come back to a fat pile of filthy lucre).
While the first purchase buys you a mercenary’s permanent stay at your side — at least for as long as the world lasts — each successive purchase after that will increase their level, which effectively serves as a multiplier upon their DPS. While it might initially seem advantageous to max everyone out — a nearly impossible task — you’ll quickly discover that the next hero in line always has considerably more base DPS than their predecessor. Therefore — when first beginning — you’ll quickly find yourself abandoning the upkeep on your early heroes in favor of the newest champion available, especially since each successive upgrade on the same hero costs more gold than the previous one before it.
This isn’t necessarily to say — however — that your old men suddenly no longer hold any value after you can you finally begin affording that shiny new frontliner, as all heroes have special properties that become available for separate purchase at specific levels. These might include perks that increase that hero’s entire damage output, perks that increase the damage output of every hero you own, perks that increase the amount of gold dropped, or even special moves that the player may active whenever they deem worthy. Although it probably wouldn’t be immediately obvious from just the game’s text, but buying two different +100% upgrades on the same hero will actually grant them a net gain of 4x instead of 3x (the second upgrade is applied to the already changed base DPS).
Those special powers — on the other hand — are so incredibly useful that they tend to come with extremely lengthy cool down penalties, so players must choose wisely when they want to experience thirty seconds of a mighty perk. Such temporary enhancements include things like: twenty free auto-clicks per second, doubling the amount of gold each enemy drops, massively increasing the chance of a click being critical, and so forth. Perhaps the most useful of these is the Dark Ritual, a skill which gives you a permanent 1.05x increase to your acquired DPS — both present and future possible (at least until the world ends) — each and every time you activate it (warning, it has an eight hour refresh).
Now at this point you might still be yawning — and even preparing to leave — wondering where the depth I previously promised actually lies in all of this, since it probably sounds like standard Clicker-faire so far. After all — despite each new zone having much stronger enemies than the one before it, whom admittedly possess even greater quantities of gold as well — how does this set up provide for unique long-lasting game play? Don’t you do little more than just walk away for long periods of time, occasionally returning to spend your rapidly accruing stockpiles of gold, and maybe move yourself to the next area?
Things — however — aren’t necessarily that simple over here in Clicker Heroes, and the first obstruction you’ll run into are the bosses guarding everything fifth zone you’ll find yourself attempting to traverse. While normal regions will require that you kill at least ten monsters before moving forward (not that you’re ever forced to do so), these special boss-regions will require you to pull off only one successful kill before moving forward. That might not seem so bad at first, but these fearsome boss creatures — as if their abnormally high health wasn’t already bad enough — must be defeated in less than thirty seconds or they will perfectly heal themselves!
The second factor is that — a short while after crossing region 100 — you’ll eventually come into possession of Frostlord, after which your progress forward will basically stall out entirely. This is because — although the enemies keep becoming more powerful at the same rate as before — you’ll learn that the next hero after Frostlord comes with quite the hefty price tag, ludicrously skyrocketing upwards in price like no other hero beforehand. Unless you wish to painstakingly allow your team to auto-farm the region you’re in a for a very long time, it’s here where you’re going to have to begin using Ascensions and Hero Souls to augment your progress (don’t worry, this isn’t an IAP thing).
Ascensions occur when you ask the God-Hero Amenhotep — after you’ve first raised his level all the way up to 150 — to destroy this entire universe, and then carry you over to a brand-spanking new one (that otherwise seems basically identical). Not only will this negate the dilemma of that entire planet’s ecosystem your party basically just eradicated, but it also means you’ll get a whiff of that lovely new universe smell everyone loves. Sadly you’ll find that you’re back to level one — with no gold in your pocket — and no one in your merry band when you arrive, but you will still have all of your Hero Souls with you (along with a few other items I haven’t yet covered).
Basically every boss you fight after region 100 has a 25% chance to be a rare primal variant, and — if defeated — you will be rewarded with a specific number of Hero Souls to be paid in full at your next Ascension. While the early Primal Bosses will only afford you a single Hero Soul for their defeat, this number will begin to spike dramatically when encounter Primal Bosses living within later zones. You’ll also be granted a single Hero Soul for every 2000 combined levels your entire party currently has, so don’t ever forget to blow all of your gold reserves before your have Amenhotep doom the entire universe.
These Hero Souls are rather valuable since they each add a whopping 10% bonus to whatever your entire party’s damage potential is at any given moment, an effect that can be additively stacked. Therefore, your primary goal during each run will be to push forward as far as you can — at least until your progress dies off to a mere trickle — so as to take back with you as many fresh new Hero Souls as you possibly can before restarting. Since these will always carry over with you, your Hero Soul collection – as well as the bonus they provide – will quickly begin to ensure that you’ll start absolutely tearing straight through Clicker Hero’s earlier portions.
Now while the additive bonus these Hero Souls add to your over all DPS is indeed quite valuable, you can — once you begin collecting them — choose to spend them instead on the summoning of Ancients. Ancients are mighty mystical creatures — the likes of which can survive the destruction of even the entire cosmos — that each give you a different perk, such as: increase to the duration of moves, decrease in cool down times, and so forth. You can then further increase the effect that Ancient has by feeding them even more of those yummy Hero Souls, but the cost of each further Ancient upgrade — as well as additional Ancient summoned to your party — will be even heavier than the last.
Another thing that will carry over into your new universe is whichever of your heroes — despite the fact you’ll have to rehire them — has earned the Gilded Status, which both changes their appearance and gives them a post +50% bonus to their DPS calculation. You earn a single Gilded perk — randomly assigned forever to one of the heroes you’ve hired — for every ten areas you’ve successfully made it past region 100, but you’ll only start getting more after Ascending when you first top your previous personal record. These Gilded bonuses — flying about at random when earned — might even find themselves hitting one hero multiple times, quickly leaving you with certain heroes being far more useful than before (yet with a price tag still reflecting their pre-Gilded damage results).
The last thing that always carries over — after Amenhotep explodes the entire universe — will be your collection of gems, which are basically Clicker Heroes version of premium currency. That said — with one exception — there is absolutely nothing you can buy with gems that you can’t straight earn in the game yourself, and I successfully saved up enough rubies to buy the mighty permanent DPS doubler before my even first Ascension. Beyond the obvious IAP based methods, these rubies may also be earned by: completing any of the game’s numerous achievements, watching regularly available advertisements, and even clicking on fish that randomly appear on the battlefield every now and then.
Honestly, the entire package put forth was so well-tuned — and over-all produced — that I had almost nothing with which I could say in complaint against the experience of playing Clicker Heroes on a mobile device. The game — with its depth of strategy — is genuinely a lot of fun, even when a hefty chunk of the game play does involve constantly setting your iPod down while you go off to do something else. Furthermore, the wide array of enemies — who all have separate idling, taking direct-tap damage, and death animations — are all very colorful and go far to help keep Clicker Heroes from being boring to watch.
That said, some of our more astute readers might have noticed that I just said there was ‘almost’ nothing to be found within Clicker Heroes’ iOS edition for me to complain over. Unfortunately — unlike on the PC original — you can’t simply leave the app running behind another window, which means — even with the game set to always march forward after clearing an area — you can only make progress here when it’s actively running. Thankfully it still counts having the game shrunk — or even shut down entirely — as valid for the purposes of AFK farming, yet this sadly also forces you to rewatch the game’s early portions after each and every single Ascension based restart.
Additionally — although this will probably only be a problem on the smaller screened iOS devices — I could barely see any of the game’s teeny-tiny text describing menu options, making this likely not a fun app for those with eye issues. Furthermore — although I doubt anyone was seriously coming to a game like this for the plot — but all of the lore text accompanying the upgrades and monsters, which were present on the PC, are now gone. Realistically — however — I can’t blame them for doing this, after all — with the text already painfully tiny as it is — there simply wasn’t any place on the screen for those blocks of text to be shoehorned in.
Clicker Heroes is — despite what it may seem at first glance — a fairly deep game, where a rather high amount of strategy is needed to quickly prevail (especially once you start delving into the Ascension system). Although this game won’t necessarily be for everyone, those whom can get past Clicker Heroes’ minimalist form — as well as the painfully teensy tiny font — should find much to be pleased with here.