ReviewsReview: Lord of the Click II

Review: Lord of the Click II

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Clickers have always held a somewhat strange position in the gaming community. Characterised by their overwhelming simplicity, they nonetheless have the ability to scratch some primitive itch in us to keep tapping away. Lord of the Click II is another such title, and given the constraints of its genre, it’s a surprisingly engaging experience.

The game places players in the roll of a king who has to use his army to defeat a series of eleven rival rulers. To do so, they’ll need to continually spawn units that move towards the right of the screen, while their enemy’s units march ever leftwards. When opposing forces collide, they’ll fight to the death and the victor continues on their path. Get enough units all the way to your enemy’s castle alive and you can claim victory before moving onto your next conquest.

It’s in the spawning of units and purchasing of upgrades to strengthen their army that players will interact with the game. All purchases use up either meat, mana, or gold. Meat and mana both continually increase over time, with meat being used to spawn new units and mana being used to cast spells that can heal your troops or impede your enemies. Gold, which is used to buy upgrades like improved spawn times and access to new unit types, is initially collected by killing enemy troops. Once players have enough, however, they can pay to open a mine that will generate income over time like meat and mana.

In terms of mechanics, that’s as complicated as Lord of the Click II ever gets. All players really need to do is keep track of the resources they have available and then use them as quickly as possible. Enemies are continually marching on their base without pause and if they start getting too close, it can be a real struggle to reclaim any ground lost. Far better, then, to always have as many troops on the board as it’s possible to have while amassing upgrades as soon as you can. It’s here that the game’s title proves itself an apt one: despite the simplicity of the gameplay loop, the unceasing nature of the opposing army draws players into having a hyperfocus on micromanaging their own resources and clicking away at the control panel.

Fortunately, despite the simple system, Lord of the Click II does have just enough player unit types, spells, and upgrades to continually give players genuine decisions to make. Instead of just spamming the same base unit over and over again, there are choices to be made about whether it’s better to save up money to access new unit types or to spend it sooner on increased food production for faster spawn times, for example. Even minor choices can have a big impact on the battle and the enemy’s relentlessness really serves to add a level of pressure to each one of them.

Outside of the mechanics, the visuals are certainly charming. So much so, in fact, that it’s a shame that players can’t enjoy them more while their attention is entirely taken up by the control panel at the bottom of the screen. During battles, the screen is split down the middle to indicate which side is winning the tug-of-war that ultimately determines the winner. If the player is losing, then more of the screen will be taken up by a dull, barren wasteland; when they’re winning, the land becomes green and luscious. It’s a nice touch as both a clear indication of the state of the battle and as something of a story hook to show you the cost of your failure should you lose.

Likewise, the character models have all been given unique appearances, attacks, and moves that are surprisingly interesting to examine. Unfortunately, their impact is dramatically lessened by your inability to focus on them during the rapid-fire activity of each battle. That said, this can be something of a blessing; while the character models are interesting, they’re extremely limited. Across the eleven different matches, you’re only going to see a handful of different unit types. For a fully-fledged console game, it doesn’t feel unrealistic to expect each level to have its own unique enemies. That you’re going to see the same few spiders, trolls, and skeletons over and over again is something of a failing.

On the audio side of things, Lord of the Click II feels similarly underwhelming. There’s some well put-together background music, but not a lot of it. If you play more than one match at a time, or if you just happen to have one match that lasts longer than you expect, you’re going to notice the audio looping. It’s not intrusive enough to really throw off the game, but it could have been better served with a bit more variety.

Making the repetitiveness of the game’s visual and audio design worse is that the game is incredibly short. There are only eleven levels in total and they can each be cleared inside of a few minutes. A reasonably low difficulty also means that players likely won’t often have to redo levels more than once. The runtime is padded out slightly by the inclusion of a local multiplayer mode, but this consists of a head-to-head button-mashing contest that grows old very quickly.

Ultimately, these negatives don’t really impact Lord of the Click II’s quietly addictive gameplay. They certainly don’t add to the experience, but the game sets itself up as an incredibly simple product and fully delivers on that promise. In some ways, these criticisms largely stem from the expectations associated with a PC or console game; in both its feel and its gameplay, Lord of the Click II acts much more like a mobile title and if it was one, the failings discussed here wouldn’t be at all noteworthy.

With that in mind, there’s a lot to enjoy about Lord of the Click II. It offers a very stripped-down experience, but the little that it does, it does very well. There’s certainly not enough content for more than an hour or two’s entertainment, but if you’re looking to just relax for a little while, then this one’s worth a look.

SUMMARY

A very simple but enjoyable clicker that feels more like an addictive mobile game than a fully-fledged console title.

+ Surprisingly complex tactical decisions to be made
+ Relentless pace that really drags you in
+ Charming art style
- Short audio loop that gets repetitive
- Very limited enemy unit types
- Only eleven short levels to get through

(Reviewed on Xbox One, also available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch).

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