Click. Click. Click. The incessant clicking of tiny phone screens has become the soundtrack of our lives, accompanied with the jangling jingles of an in-game currency being applied to a meaningless bank account, as we tap ourselves into madness for a few dollars more. We’re working more than we’re playing. We really have idle clicker games to thank for that, which have literally gamified the process of work – anything could be made into a game these days! To that end, if you want to make your clicker game appealing, you need to frame it properly so players are addicted before they realise it’s just meaningless busywork. Alleylabs have taken this approach with Final Fortress.
Final Fortress is really no different to any clicker game you’ve played before. You click stuff until you earn a boatload of money, then you invest that boatload of money to buy managers to save you the indignity of having to click things. They will earn you a truckload of money until the game allows you to start over with bonuses once you’ve earned an aircraft carrier-load of money. Repeat this until you win the game, or, more likely, you die in real life. It’s relentless. Final Fortress, however, tries to keep the formula engaging by using a zombie apocalypse as a framing device. Instead of coins, the currency is fuel, and it gets accrued by killing zombies. So far, so good, as this initially sounds like it provides fresh perspective on a familiar genre.
Final Fortress, or, rather, its creators, were clever, though. See, no matter how addictive they are, clicker games will always have to brave the storm of being labelled “just a clicker game”, especially as their mesmerising yet stupid powers over us are impossible to define at times. Yet, Final Fortress deftly avoids this trap by being more than “just a clicker game”; it also functions as a tower defence sim on the side. Both strains of gameplay work hand in glove: as you gain money in the clicker side of the game, you’ll also unlock weapon rewards that can be equipped to different rooms of your fortress. These rooms come with investment, just like new tiers come in any idle game.
Once you have your weapons, arm your house up to the teeth and head for battle. Then, you can transition to the frankly underwhelming and far too difficult tower defence sections, where even at the lowest levels, zombies come in unrelenting hordes. You’re permitted to equip passive attacks (house will attack without your input) and active attacks that you can control, but the passive attacks do embarrassingly poor damage, and the active attacks don’t help. As such, this element of the game is much more frustrating than it should have been and doesn’t even yield good enough rewards to supplement the main meat of the game. So, then, this is better left avoided, and we’re right back where we started – Final Fortress is just a clicker game.
However, these two aspects of the game are the most impressive parts of the package; the rest of it is depressingly average and really lacks the joy and good humour that these games need to rise above the hoi-polloi. It all just works. It all just exists. Click and accrue. There’s not much fun past that – it’s certainly functional, but doesn’t offer anything better than other stalwarts of the genre currently offer – and those are free too, so why bother?
At the very least, the hand-drawn style of graphics is pleasant enough, depicting the zombies in a hyper-deformed style with big heads and dopey expressions. It is a cutesy affair, but not overwhelmingly so; the colour palette creates the dismal scenes associated with zombie apocalypse, but it balances out with the otherwise comedic pretensions seen in the title’s presentation. Ultimately, this works out for the best. Final Fortress doesn’t rely on garish colours, so it doesn’t come off as saccharine and insincere, but also doesn’t feel like a child trying on dad’s trousers, either. Aesthetically, it strikes a happy medium between cute and gritty and the game is all the better for it.
As addictive as the game is in the standard way that clicker games are, Final Fortress is still ultimately nothing more than a paint-by-numbers affair, doing everything to a satisfactory level but never excelling. As such, this is really only meant to be enjoyed for a short while before being spat out and replaced with another meaningless mobile gaming rush. Final Fortress is essentially like digital chewing gum.
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
It’s not really a disappointment, this game; it just does exactly as is expected. For a free game, that’s fine, but you will be very, very unlikely to stick around after a few hours of playtime.