Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).
It was prescient to release Cookie Clicker at the same moment Breaking Bad was airing its final season (no plot details here, don’t worry). The two share a chemical bond: On Breaking Bad, drug kingpin Walter White is not merely content with making more money than he can spend in countless lifetimes. In his words, he’s not in the business of cooking crystal meth. He’s “in the empire business.” The Candy Box-esque Cookie Clicker starts you off with a handful of cookies, obtained by clicking on a big picture of one, then provides you with ample opportunities to increase your supply—multiplying production by a hundred, then a thousand, and then it never stops.
To match how ludicrously large your cookie collection can become (we’re talking in the hundreds of billions), the game asks that players use equally ludicrous means to make it grow. It starts with amassing an army of sweet grandmothers to help with baking, and along the way involves expeditions to the cookie planet and time machines to pick up cookies before they were even eaten. There is no pause between, say, opening your first cookie farm or heading out for your first spelunking mission inside the cookie mine. This cookie game is the purest of cheese.
Like Walter White, the hubris of your early days comes back to jeopardize your exponentially growing cookie empire. Those innocent grandmas? They have sinister motives, only revealed when your cookie cup runneth over. Though Cookie Clicker is a game that relies on time alone—once auto-click is enabled, it basically runs itself—there is no loss in the purity of feeling like a cookie kingpin (at least until everything crumbles). For you are Cookie Ozymandias, King Of Kings.