Idle games are one of the many guilty secrets that live in the windows and tabs that accompany me through a working day*. There’s something comforting about clicking across to a series of steadily climbing numbers, particularly when there’s a narrative involved.
Exoptable Money is Cookie Clicker without the clicking and, indeed, without the cookies. The closest analogue I can think of is Little Inferno, a game that I formed a powerful bond with for the few hours that it smouldered on my screen. Exoptable has two forms of input – the first is a lever that activates the Money Machine, causing it to spew dosh, and the other is a pull rope that brings down a shop menu. Your goal is to make as much money as possible. How you’ll make it and why are revealed as the story unfolds. It’s grim.
You buy things, you watch the numbers rise, you occasionally open a letter from the increasingly sinister Mrs Sinclair or important man of business and politics Dr Money. Simple. I had the game running for most of the afternoon yesterday and reached the ending. It’s worth getting to that point. Nothing happens unless you’re watching the screen at the time so there’s no danger of missing out on the messages that form the narrative, and there’s enough humour sprinkled among the macabre goings-on to make it worth the small effort.
There are hints of a war reminiscent of 1984’s far-off conflicts (which, I suppose, makes it a war like many others) and people in the East and West giving up the fight because they don’t have the energy to battle for ‘their cardinal direction’ anymore. There is a creepy current running through the correspondence. There is a sad interlude involving a cat.
Exoptable Money isn’t as polished or pointed as Little Inferno but it made me smile and it made me cringe, and it made me think about things as well. Mostly about the poor cat and…well, you can download it here to see for yourself.
* yesterday’s other dirty secrets that aren’t particularly secret included Supergrass, last night’s Hell in a Cell pre-show (haven’t watched the rest yet so don’t spoil it, ok) and a highlight video of Bury FC’s 1-1 draw against Southend at the weekend.