App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Clickers are one of the strangest kinds of games out there. On the one hand, they have progression systems that can be deep and satisfying, but on the other, there's not much to them besides watching numbers go up. Some might even argue that most of these games have so little to them that they can hardly be called games. At any rate, Paperclips Game Clicker has come to mobile and it asks you to make paperclips–and lots of them–in what is one of the more interesting (though buggy) clicker experiences you can have.
At the outset of Paperclips, things start very simply. You start with a supply of wire and a button that says “Make Paperclip.” Every time you tap this button, you use some wire and create a paperclip to be sold. From here, you can earn money to unlock upgrades to do things like make paperclips automatically and auto-purchase wire when you run out.
What starts as a simple clicker about making paperclips ends up going to really strange places though. As you make more and more paperclips, you gain access to new menus that allow you to do things like invest in the stock market, take advantage of drone technology, and even perform some quantum computing. All along the way, your unlocking of these new technologies and features tells a loose story that is very odd, but it's also pretty compelling. It helps that all the while, you are generating increasingly ridiculous amounts of paperclips, which is itself pretty satisfying.
Most clickers tend to prop up their lack of gameplay with some fun or flashy visuals, but this is certainly not the case with Paperclips. The styling here is about as spartan as it gets, with a blank white background, no sound, and plain black text telling you everything you need to know about your paperclip operation.
For folks who want to play this game on the go, the lack of fancy visuals might be a good thing, as not having as much visual flair can help save your battery and make quick checks of your progress extremely easy to read. That said, there some times when more visual indicators could help make things a bit clearer. In particular, there is a screen with unlocks that you can scroll through, but Paperclips provides no sign that the list is actually scrollable. This can make it so you miss unlocks for long periods of time that you might have wanted earlier, which is frustrating.
Even more frustrating than some poor visual design choices though is the multitude of bugs in Paperclips. As a clicker where numbers go up almost automatically, it seems absurd that there are so many problems with the game that might require you to force close the app and restart it to see if you can fix things.
The main offender here is the pop-up ads in Paperclips. Every once in a while when playing, an ad will pop up to play a video, but then it never starts. If this happens, there is no recourse but to force close the app, as there is no way to close the ad window until after the ad has played. Of course, you can pay to get rid of ads in Paperclips, but even if you do, there are other problems around menu options sticking to your choices, and some progression bugs that occur through unlocking upgrades in an unexpected order.
The bottom line
Making numbers go up feels good, and Paperclips is pretty clever about the things you can do to make more and more paperclips. That said, 2017 has been an unusually good year for clicker games, and Paperclips–while pretty interesting–has a few too many technical issues to feel welcome among the ranks of something like Spaceplan. Although it is strangely compelling, Paperclips ultimately too buggy and too visually plain to really stand out.