Available for PC via itch.io – Price: $1.50 – By: SmokeSomeFrogs

I hate gatekeeping. People telling others that what they’re doing isn’t right based on some imaginary, arbitrary rules that they’ve conjured up out of thin air to make themselves feel superior. It’s rife in gaming; you can’t be a ‘real gamer’ if you don’t play X game, or don’t own Y console – even if you don’t play on a certain difficulty level.

There’s room for everyone in gaming. No matter what they play, no matter what they play on and no matter what difficulty level they choose to use.

Yet the snobbery persists. It’s very difficult to push through that; even people who proclaim that they’re against gatekeeping still harbour certain prejudices and judge people for playing things like mobile games, for example. As difficult as it is for me to admit this, I have some of those same snobby traits in some cases.

Flufftopia is a game that most ‘gamers’ would immediately dismiss. It tells you it’s a ‘clicker game’ right there in the store description. Yeah, it also says it has a story…but it’s a clicker game.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, basically it means you click to progress; here, you click your piggy bank to earn coins, which you then spend on earning new buildings in the friendly little world of Flufftopia. You can also spend those coins on upgrades for your buildings and workers to increase the rate at which coins are automatically earned, by placing them at different buildings when they’re hired.

There’s not much to it beyond clicking that piggy bank and assigning workers; there’s hardly any animation and, though it’s visually appealing and colourful, it’s pretty bare bones as an experience.

Until it isn’t. Not everything is as it seems in Flufftopia. Towards the end of the game – or at least where you assume the end of the game will be, given how many buildings are shown and what upgrades are available – something big happens that changes the entire experience. It’s a tonal shift that I don’t want to go into too much; though it’s safe to say that it’s well worth giving Flufftopia a shot, even if you’d normally have zero interest in cutesy clicker games.

The change is pulled off masterfully. I was genuinely surprised and a little freaked out; though it’s a short game – it probably won’t take you longer than half an hour to complete – it leaves quite an impression.

Perhaps this is my wake up call; my own lesson to push through the snobbery even I sometimes have towards certain games. I certainly didn’t expect Flufftopia to be a game that made me think along those lines – well done to the SmokeSomeFrogs development team for creating such an odd and thought-provoking little experience. I’ll definitely be checking out their other games as soon as I can.

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