What are the best clicker games and idle games? There are some interesting connotations that come along with clicker games. Also known as ‘incremental’ or ‘idle’ games, the name betrays certain expectations: click your mouse, get a tiny reward, and repeat until you can make the process more efficient and lucrative like a lab rat pulling away at levers until it gets a tasty food pellet.
In most cases, there’s a snowball effect that accompanies your progress that makes your clicks more productive, hence the “incremental” moniker. There are also many games that operate automatically even when you’re not playing, which justifies the “idle” nickname. Clicker games manage to distil high-complexity concepts down into a series of single clicks and automation, and while they might not be among the best PC games for their depth or storylines, clicker games are certainly among the most calming and relaxing games around.
Once relegated to the dark corners of Itch.io and Kongregate, the genre has grown in popularity in recent years, and marketplaces like Steam are bursting at the seams with new idle, clicker, and incremental games for you to try. It’s nearly overwhelming.
Luckily, you have PCGamesN to help you find the ones worth playing in the following clicker games list. Below are a selection of games worth a look. One of the great things about clickers is that, with a few exceptions, they’re usually free, so if you’re looking for some of the best free PC games you may find an idle game that suits your tastes.
Here are the best clicker games on PC in 2023:
- Hero Wars
- Leaf Blower Revolution
- AdVenture Capitalist
- Idle On
- Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms
- Cookie Clicker
- Clicker Heroes
- Cell to Singularity
- NGU Idle
- A Dark Room
Looking for a stress-free game to help you while away the hours? You might want to try Hero Wars. While the game’s adverts might lead you to believe that it’s a puzzle game, it’s actually all about building up a team of heroes and then having them fight through hordes of enemies, and even other players’ teams in the PvP mode.
Once the battles start, you can just leave your team to take care of themselves. Your job is to unlock a selection of heroes and make sure your team is optimised to face all kinds of different challenges. It’s a simple game, for sure, but also one of the more addictive games out there, and one that could quickly become a part of your daily routine.
Leaf Blower Revolution
Equal parts soothing and satisfying, Leaf Blower Revolution offers pretty much what you’d expect: clean up your yard with an upgradable array of leaf blowers. Not only do you get the peaceful, idle aspect from the very act of leaf-blowing itself, but you’ll get the sense of achievement in line with other games in this list from gradually leveling up your machinery, including nuclear leaf blowers, and even automated ones that let you enjoy an in-game beverage while you watch them work.
This is one of the games that you can instantly play in Opera GX if you use that browser, and indeed, we included it in our list of the best Opera GX games. A superb example of a game built on a simple premise that manages to provide a fantastic experience.
AdVenture Capitalist casts you as an enterprising entrepreneur looking to make it big in the investment game. You start with a single lemonade stand, but before long you’ll be making pizzas, managing hockey teams, making movies, and even running banks. Each business you buy increases your profits and the speed at which you can produce goods, but it also makes it tough to split your attention across all of your ventures. Luckily you can hire managers to automate each business so that the money keeps rolling in while you focus your attention elsewhere.
That snowball effect is at the heart of AdVenture Capitalist. Watching each business operate on its own while you expand your ever-growing stable of ventures manages to capture the addicting essence of clicker games. AdVenture Capitalist also takes the term “idle game” to heart as you continue to generate profits even when not playing the game. If only capitalism was this accessible to everyone.
Idle On – The Idle MMO markets itself as the only MMO in which your characters continues to level up while you’re away. An adorable MMO where your character has the appearance of a feature-less, Morph-style humanoid, Idle On actually features detailed bosses, multiple classes, terrifying dungeons, increasingly powerful attacks and more. Leave your character idling away, and you’ll return to bonus loot and experience which can be spent on increasing your character’s power.
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is a clicker game for Dungeons & Dragons and RPG game fans that puts you in the shoes of iconic D&D characters. Battle your way through Waterdeep, Avernus, and Icewind Dale, among other classic D&D locations, clicking your way through the ranks and leveling up your heroes.
Idle Champions might not be as idle as some of the other games on this list, but the recognisable characters and places makes it a joy to play, and you certainly won’t get bored, as there are still new content updates regularly, adding cosmetic items and new champions.
One of the originators of incremental clickers, Cookie Clicker is synonymous with the genre. You start by clicking on a large cookie, earning a single cookie per click. Bake enough cookies and you can purchase new cursors to click for you. You can also hire grandmas to make cookies, plant a field of cookie seeds, and upgrade the efficiency of your clicks.
Once you earn enough cookies you can restart your game and aim for new upgrades like heavenly chips, play new minigames to earn a large amount of cookies at once, and even barter with the Cookie Dragon. There are also seasonal events that offer temporary chances to boost your cookie count. If you enjoy idle games at all, you owe it to yourself to to give Cookie Clicker a, er, click. Cookie Clicker also features on our list of cooking games, if you prefer restaurant management games.
If clicking monsters into oblivion is your thing then Clicker Heroes might be for you. You start with a lone warrior, and clicking a monster does a single point of damage. Soon, though, you’ll recruit allies that automatically damage enemies. You can level up each individual member of your party with coins dropped by felled monsters, and every character comes with a host of abilities that can be purchased over time, making them more powerful.
The most satisfying part of Clicker Heroes is watching the amount of damage you dish out snowball from single digits to enormous numbers. There’s also a surprising amount of choice present, as there may be several character abilities to unlock at any given time. There aren’t any wrong choices, though, since everything you do contributes to the damage you’re capable of dishing out, which puts a relaxing spin on the concept of build making in RPGs.
Cell to Singularity
If you want to learn something new while idling clicking away, then Cell to Singularity offers the perfect combination of clicker game and informative information about human evolution. Every day is a school day, after all. As you progress through this clicker, you’ll earn entropy, the ‘currency’ for unlocking more stages of evolution, and will be taken through the Jurassic era, the Stone Age, the industrial revolution, and more.
While the historical information is all accurate, the exploration doesn’t stop there, as Cell to Singularity leaps forward in time too, speculating about the future of human evolution, as well as reminiscing about the past.
Forager isn’t strictly an idle, clicker, or incremental game. Progress through this crafting game requires a lot more active input, as you engage in combat, build your base up, and, er, forage for materials.
However, as you approach Forager’s endgame the pace shifts as more and more of your systems become automated, allowing you to sit back and relax while your machines churn out all the goods you’d normally have to fight for or plunder from the surrounding wilderness. If you want an incremental game with a little more action, then this adorable top-down indie is tough to beat.
Plantera starts off simple enough: catch a butterfly in a net and gain one coin. Soon, you’ll have enough coins to plant a small carrot patch. Gather carrots to earn money in order to plant a blueberry bush. Sell enough carrots and blueberries and you can plant an apple tree. Soon, you’ll have a thriving garden rich in tasty fruits and vegetables. A much healthier idle game than Cookie Clicker, that’s for certain.
As you progress you’ll gain helpers that will automatically gather ripe crops. You’ll also have to ward off unwanted scavengers such as magpies and rabbits who are looking to snag the fruits of your labour. Plantera is one of the few games on this list that actually costs money, but it’s not a lot, and the tradeoff is that it feels like a robust game with plenty of choices. Oh, and it’s cute as heck, too.
NGU stands for Numbers Go Up, and is a hilarious RPG-style idle game that puts you in the shoes of a feeble amnesiac who has somehow ended up in the sewer and must train up to defeat their various adversaries to progress through the story, taking on increasingly challenging foes – starting with beating on a piece of menacing fluff. Energy is generated every second and can be spent on training attack and defence skills, more of which are unlocked in time. As you grow stronger, you’ll make your way through various bosses, who once defeated you can fight again in the Adventure tab, grinding out gold and item levels.
The game’s developer, 4G, guides you through the first minutes of the game in an endearing tutorial – the narrative style is its own reward as you unlock new features and bosses, though of course the ultimate reward is watching those numbers go up.
Trimps begins like many other clicker games: you need to gather one resource via some clicks. Because you can only have one task (gather wood, check traps, etc.) active at a time it won’t be long until you find yourself stretched thin. Soon, though, you’ll meet the titular Trimps, small creatures that you can employ in order to automate most tasks.
As your small army of Trimps grows, you’ll find yourself awash in resources and food. You’ll use your Trimps build a small village, fight monsters, and even assault a towering, mysterious spire. Entirely text-based, the Trimps interface resembles a spreadsheet, and there are a lot of numbers to manage. Math geeks are sure to get a huge amount of entertainment from this idle game.
A Dark Room
Along with Cookie Clicker, A Dark Room is one of the forebearers of the incremental games genre. What makes it unique among other games on this list, though, is that A Dark Room is a text-adventure that revels in its mystery and minimalism. The story is presented entirely through text and sound, and slowly reveals information about the world around you. Proceed through the story by simply clicking on options and answers.
You begin the game in a dark room and must light a fire. Soon, you’ll run out of wood and must go gather some from the nearby forest. Before long, a stranger comes into your home and you set out on a mystery that’s part text adventure game and part optimization puzzle. It’s oddly unsettling and atmospheric, which is a grand achievement given the limited presentation and gameplay scope of A Dark Room.
Idle games have gained something of a cult following in recent years. The snowball effect of leveraging a small amount of resources into enormous gains simply by clicking a mouse appears to scratch a common itch. In a medium filled with complex control schemes, it can be nice to unwind with something a bit simpler.
The experience doesn’t necessarily need to be shallow, however, as games like A Dark Room prove. Watching developers and programmers experiment with genre conventions is fascinating, and a surprising amount of innovation is happening in the space. Just because a game is labelled as “idle” doesn’t mean it’s not immersive.
If you’re looking for a game just as soothing as these simple clickers, but maybe something that requires a bit more interactivity, then why not try one of our favourite relaxing life games or simulation games that offer you a chance to try something new, from driving trucks and tractors, to more fast-paced F1 cars, and even some non-vehicle related sims.
Original feature written by Sam Desatoff.