I’ll admit, when I first loaded up Doomsday Clicker I was a little worried it would follow the same pattern as Fallout Shelter, a game I certainly enjoyed but eventually fell out from because of a lack of content in its early goings. But after a few moments digging past the opening stages, I was surprised by what I found, a game with a lot of depth that revelled in its concept and poked a tongue or two our in the process.
Doomsday Clicker, published by New Zealand studio PikPok, begins in the usual manner of a modern mobile game. You’re given the opportunity to press the trusty red button of doom, destroying everything on the planet … right, maybe not exactly the usual manner. Anyway, early on your tasked with building your bunker little by little, each stage earning you money to afford upgrades. Your trusted monkey assistant fills you in on every part of the game as you go, but you’ll soon learn that building everything up isn’t the actual end goal. At least not initially.
Not long after I’d opened all of the levels, my new money friend pointed me back to the doomsday device again. It’s here that the game really opens up, leading you to pressing it again to create a whole new wave of destruction. Each time you press the rather shiny red button, you restart your suburban shelter, increasing your income at a faster rate. The ultimate goal is to reach as high an income you can get per second to unlock various other areas across the world to become the ultimate world leader. Of sorts.
The fun comes not in the building of your shelters, but the interaction between yourself and the strange characters that call them home. The best way I can describe it, imagine the amusing riffs on being the big bad in Despicable Me but without the annoyance of sidekicks and the fact you actually did … you know … win. That covers some of the humour on display, and speaking of which the visuals definitely fit a saturday morning cartoon vibe.
All the parts that make a compelling mobile title, something compelling and not just a chore, are here and well designed within Doomsday Clicker. But I have to give a shout-out to the music and sound design most of all, and here’s where some of the other in-jokes come into play too. There’s no chip tunes here, no hark backs to the old days either. This is a full and well orchestrated jazz soundtrack of witty lyrics and funky piano riffs. I chuckled aloud the first time the game sang to me ‘have you pushed the button yet?’, it caught me by surprise in the best of ways.
This is also a good example of how to develop a good free to play game. Some hide content behind firewalls, others make it obvious the only way you’ll get anywhere is by paying a few dollars. Here, you could buy a couple of quick upgrades if you really want, but none of it is necessary in order to enjoy the experience. If you take your time, maybe come back to the game after a few hours then press the red button again, you’ll eventually get that multiplier high enough that spending on content would be for the fun of it, not out of requirement.
Doomsday Clicker has a lot going on under the surface. At first glance it feels like just another in the always moving assortment of new mobile releases, but once you get into it and under its opening layers, you’ll discover plenty of welcome surprises and a lot more gameplay than it lets on. I’ve enjoyed my time with it so far, having unlocked some of the early portions of the experience, and if the humour keeps up I should get plenty more out of it given the massive amount of money I need to acquire before being able to get to them.
Doomsday Clicker is free to play on Android and iOS right now. Have you pressed the button yet?
Mark Isaacson is a freelance journalist and editor of PN2. Go say hi @Mark_D_Isaacson