Incremental games, idle games, clicker games, whatever you want to call them, are all the rage right now. This baffles me, because the genre as a whole strikes me as inherently dull and tedious. I have tried a few iOS clickers out of curiosity, but to be honest, none of them ever really clicked with me (sorry) or held my interest for long. That is, until I checked out Alley Labs’ Final Fortress – Idle Survival (out now, free).

Set in a dystopian future where mutant zombies roam the scorched wasteland that used to be Earth, Final Fortress tasks you with building and managing the ultimate survival shelter for humanity’s remnants. You start with nothing but a ruined husk of a property and must build it up floor by floor into a thriving, self sustaining biodome. Gas has replaced cash as the main form of currency in this world, so the idea is to try and produce as much of the stuff as possible in order to keep expanding. Each new floor you add to your tower block begins producing gas right away, and you can also hire tradespeople to speed up production; for example, a gardener to tend to the plants in the greenhouse and an electrician to operate the generator.

The gameplay in Final Fortress is well varied and offers a lot of choice. It’s definitely not just mindless tapping. To begin with, the focus is mainly on unlocking new rooms and characters and strategically boosting their earning potential by levelling them up. Then, as your fortress gets taller and more well populated, the game opens up with a plethora of new things to do, such as kitting each room out with weapons and defenses, playing a wheel spinning mini-game for a chance at prizes, taking part in intense battles with zombie hordes (more on that below), and eventually even taking a car out into the mutant-infested, radioactive wasteland to search for survivors and new lodgings.

Battle mode is definitely one of my favorite parts of the game. This tower defense-esque mini-game sees you using your fortress’s weapons to fend off waves of attacking zombies and monsters. It’s challenging, action packed and provides a nice change of pace from the core gameplay. Winning battles also earns you prize chests that contain useful items like new weapons, abilities, blueprints, and diamonds (the game’s secondary form of currency), so there’s a real incentive to play this mode regularly.

Final Fortress may be a free-to-play game, but it’s not at all pushy about trying to get you to spend real world money on stuff like diamonds and prize chests. It dishes out daily rewards for logging in, and you always have the option of watching video ads for a free spin of the prize wheel or to speed up gas production. This is a nice idea, but unfortunately watching ads quite often crashes the game. Being abruptly booted to the home screen when this happens is highly annoying, not only because it interrupts the flow of the game, but also because it means you don’t get the reward that you’re entitled to for viewing the ad. I imagine Alley Labs will fix this bug sooner rather than later though, since they seem very committed to updating Final Fortress on a regular basis and conversing with fans on Facebook and Twitter.

Other than that one small gripe, Final Fortress is great fun and an easy recommendation to fans of the clicker game genre and post-apocalyptic stuff in general. I reckon it has the potential to win over non-fans too (it certainly got me!), since it’s a lot more ‘hands-on’ and involving than most games of its type. It also helps that it’s very slickly made, with gorgeous, highly detailed comic book style visuals and tons of personality.

Verdict

An intriguing post-apocalyptic premise, highly varied gameplay and lush production values make Final Fortress – Idle Survival a far more compelling and engrossing experience than the average clicker game. Even if you’re not usually a fan of the genre, it’s well worth a look.

Positives
Compelling and varied gameplay
Cool zombie battling mini-game
Highly polished visuals and production values
Free-to-play with pleasantly unobtrusive IAPs
Negatives
Watching video ads occasionally crashes the game
4.5
Excellent