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A quiet, gentle new genre is creeping toward your computer and all you have to do is click. And click. And click. And there is the surmise of the entire incremental genre, or clicker. Many see them as time wasters, with little stimulation to keep entertaining, but others find the steady accumulation of numbers addictive.
What is an Incremental Game?
The objective of most incremental games is to advance through the given scenario, be that an RPG setting, an oil company, or a bakery, by building resources related to your clicks. The games are extremely open ended, often offering a reset feature to gain additional knowledge, investors, or resources based on accumulative experience for the next replay. After a while some incremental games require little input, essentially rending their gameplay idle. This has given incremental games a sub-genre using the moniker, idle game.
Incremental games are popular for a number of reasons, but the central tenet of their popularity stems from their ease of access, their ability to fit around a normal life, their use of common gaming themes and aesthetics, and the ridiculously wide-range of incremental gaming scenarios. They have mass appeal without entirely alienating ‘core’ gamers, it can scratch a tycoon-game itch on the move, and it has numbers that increase: a serious trigger for any gamer.
“Ever wondered what one quadrillion damage per second feels like?” asks the Clicker Heroes Steam entry. I hadn’t, but I’m glad I have some way to finding out. Similarly, reviewer internisus believes Clicker Heroes to be “a horrifying examination of human psychological weakness.” I can also agree with this.
You begin with a minimal load out, with only one hero, delivering tiny amounts of damage. Each time you click a monster, you deliver damage, each monster that dies delivers gold. As you accumulate gold, you can level up a stable of Heroes, unlocking powerful, prolonged attacks. I played for 7 hours and racked up 3,679BN DPS, with 91,976 Click Damage, 1,478T gold, dispatching 18,289 monsters in the process. Sounds impressive, right? Any hardened Clicker Heroes player will definitely tell you I’m at the beginning of my journey.
For a game based upon one action, clicking, there is surprisingly longevity to the play, and whole world of nuanced load outs for the highest possible DPS and Click Damage, as well as an end-game involving World Ascensions, sacrifice, dark rituals, and relics. The Clicker Heroes subreddit is a must view for anyone serious about the game, beginners and experts alike.
Yes, an incremental game dedicated to building sandcastles. All the fun of sandcastle construction, none of the sand in your food. Truly win, win. Sandcastle Builder burns a little slower than action-packed Clicker Heroes, but keeps your interest with a number if interesting tools for spreading sand, such as the Trebuchet, and the steady accumulation of buckets is satisfying for the sandcastle in your mind.
It is a real slow burner, and certainly not for those needing masses of visual stimulation, but Sandcastle Builder also has an end-game featuring dragons, ladders, glass, and whole host of other random objects.
Time Clickers is a nice variant on the incremental style, where your clicks are replaced with the crosshairs of a laser pistol and the enemies are cubes of assorted colors. You have the same building of DPS and Click Damage as with other games, and you can level five weapons to form your attack ‘team,’ mercilessly destroying block after block, boss after boss.
Levelling up your DPS weapons is relatively easy, but the bosses, every five levels, are also solid. Time Clickers also features a rather punchy dubstep wubby-type soundtrack to accompany your incremental shooting, adding to the pacey feel of the game.
Cookie Clicker is one of the oldest and best known incremental games. You’re building a cookie manufacturing empire, from the hordes of cookie baking Grandma’s, to the grow-your-own cookie farms complete with cookie seeds.
It is another steady build-up of resources toward the final production resource, the Prism, which boosts your production by ‘converting light itself into cookies.’
Clickpocalypse 2 is a long form RPG incremental with a procedurally generated dungeon for you to watch the heroes put sword to beast. Your four heroes gather loot as they go, gaining XP and new skills along the way. The game also keeps track of your total kills, allowing you to spend them on incremental perks such as higher gold drops, more scrolls drops, more rare items drops, and so on.
This is another incremental game with a busy subreddit. Even with only 306-odd readers, there is still a new post almost every day, so it can be worth trawling through for tips and questions during your playthrough.
This is another older game with an excellent RPG element. Your goal is to build a ninety-pound teenage into a fearsome warrior. My class was Fighter/Organist, identifying as with the ancient tribe of the Enchanted Motorcycle.
Progress Quest is more of an idle game: past the first few clicks, the game largely plays out without your input. You can play in your browser, or download the original client, and watch the story unfold.
AdVenture Capitalist is financial management incremental game, with a focus on building a successful business empire. You click through Lemonade Stands, Pizza Deliveries, all the way to Banks. Time and profit boosts are delivered at different levels, pushing further into the game. Similarly, you can hire managers to keep your empire ticking over whilst you are away, as well as additional multipliers you can purchase with your profits.
By the time you’ve unlocked each manager, the game becomes idle, your only required input deciding which upgrade to splurge your outrageous bank balance on. I’ve only played this on Steam for half an hour, but have played the Android version for far too long. Both offer the same steady build, the same ridiculously large numbers, and the same end game of retirement. AdVenture Capitalist keeps you coming back, mindlessly, for more.
The below image is the Android version, but I wanted to show you the quintillions.
If you’re really, really serious about nailing a high score/conquering the world/building an empire, you might want to investigate autoclicker software. Most autoclickers allow you to assign left, middle, and right mouse buttons at individual intervals, set pauses between clicks, and set a stop time for a specific amount of clicks.
However, some incremental games will limit the number of ‘manual’ clicks per second (CPS) to negate the effects of an autoclicker. For instance, Cookie Clicker limits manual clicking to around 250CPS, even if your autoclicker and computer are able to handle more.
Has multiple options, interval tracking, single or double clicking, and individual mouse buttons.
This is a slightly more advanced autoclicker with dynamic cursor movement i.e. you set a location, rather than drag it around the screen, clicking everything as you go, click interval programming for hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds, and a repetition limit.
These two autoclickers are free, but there are other options out there. This post in the Incremental_games subreddit has a few more options for you to try, and might save you from a broken mouse, or carpal tunnel.
Incremental games are seemingly here to stay. Their absolute minimal commitment level makes them appealing to the casual gamer, whilst others enjoying the chase of monumental scores, accompanied by equally mesmerizing and occasionally hard-to-pronounce numbers.
There are also a massive range of incremental games available for Android, and iOS, and you can find many of those games on this massive list. You’re sure to find something to destroy your mouse with!
Are you an incremental addict? Or are these games just a waste of time? Have you made an incremental? Let us know below!