Cookie Clicker review: Nanageddon

by Lars

Oh boy. Cookie Clicker‘s on Steam now. Whatever dark machinations brought the biggest time-waster of a game from the browser to my Steam library, it’s here.

I’ve been hands-on with Cookie Clicker for a couple of weeks ahead of the official Steam release, and my time played is already at over 55 hours. Granted, much of that time is the game idling away, baking cookies in the background while I do other things. But I have achieved the tiniest possible fraction of what Cookie Clicker offers in that time. I have about 65 achievements, I’ve prestiged once with another couple of levels in the bank, and I’m pretty sure I’m close to ending the world via oversaturation of Grandmas.

For the uninitiated, Cookie Clicker is an idle game. Well, more accurately, it’s one of the very first idle games, releasing in 2013. Created by a French programmer by the name of Julien Thiennot, Cookie Clicker saw regular updates over the years and has now finally made its way to Steam. The premise is simple. You want to make cookies. By clicking on the giant, glowing cookie, you’ll gain one cookie per click. Click enough times and you can buy cursors to click for you. After the cursors come the legion of helpful Grandmas.

The more cookies you have, the more buildings you can buy to make more cookies. It stops making sense beyond the Grandmas, beginning a steady, absurd descent into madness with cookie farms, mines, temples and portals to the Cookie-verse. Gameplay can then be further augmented with the purchase of upgrades which allow you to tailor the game to your playstyle. If you like to leave the window up, idly clicking on the cookie, boost your click power and increase the appearance of powerful golden cookies.

Cookie Clicker interface

If you just like to leave it running in the background, you can boost the automatic production. The game will literally play itself for hours if you let it, with the barest minimum of interaction necessary. Your cookie empire becomes a self-sustaining monolith, travelling through the stars and various dimensions to further spread your chocolate-chip influence. It’s silly, it’s absorbing, and as much of Cookie Clicker‘s addictive quality comes from seeing just how far the silliness goes as from watching all the numbers steadily go up.

But that’s the million-cookie question. Is Cookie Clicker actually fun? What do you get out of the hours of playtime required to watch those numbers go up? Honestly, I don’t know what to tell you. I am addicted to Cookie Clicker again, sure. But I, personally, am not having fun with it. Beyond giving me a mild distraction waiting for dungeons to pop in Final Fantasy XIV, it’s neither adding nor subtracting anything to my life. It just is, eternal and undeniable, much like an eldritch abomination of Grandmas.

But – if you love idle games, Cookie Clicker is more or less where it all began, and to this day it’s probably the most developed, feature-rich example of the genre you can find. You won’t even scratch the surface of its insanity for weeks – it seems like it always has another surprise up its sleeve when you start losing interest. You’re guaranteed smaller incremental upgrades in the form of sugar lumps, which appear every day and allow you to permanently boost buildings. Some buildings even have mini-games or smaller systems within them – upgrading the Wizard’s Tower allows you to cast spells, and the Temples give you a pantheon of gods to worship for various bonuses.

As an added bonus, the Steam version comes with an original, chill soundtrack from C418the man behind the Minecraft soundtrack. As the game is basically always on my second monitor or minimised, I didn’t leave the volume up for too long, but it’s a cool addition nonetheless. The soundtrack adds another soporific layer to Cookie Clicker‘s simple, repetitive hook.

Cookie Clicker overall thoughts

I was really unsure of how to go about writing this review. How do you critique something as simple and mechanical as this? It’s a fun toy with a surprising amount of depth, should you choose to plunge that far. It could even be argued that there’s a strategy to all of the various interlocking buildings and upgrades, but in all honesty, this is either going to be a massive time sink or something you just don’t get from the off. I’m not going to be offering any sort of score for this release of Cookie Clicker. It’s more of a rich distraction than an experience to be critiqued.

If you already love Cookie Clicker, you can get it on Steam as of September 1st. If you’re interested in giving it a try, take a run at the browser version first – you’ll know exactly what you’re in for then.

Cookie Clicker’s browser version is here if you want to check it out for yourself. Why not check out more of our game reviews here?

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