The 12 Best Idle Games on Steam
Idle games, also sometimes called clicker or incremental games, sometimes have a bad reputation for the uninitiated. Many players think that just because a game can play itself, there’s less substance in it.
That’s simply not true. There are a ton of idle games that provide enough depth and strategy to keep you coming back for more. Admittedly, there are also more direct games in this article that still provide a fun and casual time.
This list contains the 12 best idle games on Steam that you can play today. They encompass different genres and cater to audiences of all expertise.
Whether you want to game to pass the time or you’re in it for the long haul, there should be a game here that’s right for you.
The Longing is the most unique idle game on Steam because it does exactly the opposite of what you’re used to in the genre.
In other games, numbers grow exponentially high, The Longing slowly counts down a clock. This innovative mix between an adventure game, a walking simulator, and an idle game became famous for its 400-day calendar. Time passes in real-time whether the game is open or not.
You play as the Shade whose sole duty is to wake up the old king from their slumber after 400 days. As soon as the clock starts, you can leave the game and come back next year if you wish. However, the Shade will become really lonely if you do.
The whole cavern system is free for you to explore to your heart’s content. You can find furniture and other odd decorations to spruce up the Shade’s underground home, in doing so time actually passes a little faster. You could even read full-length novels in-game to help speed up the clock.
Temper your expectations because this game is deliberately slow, the Shade moves at the pace of an iceberg, and puzzles often take days or even weeks to solve. One example is that there’s a secret unpassable area where you have to wait for the water to drip down so you can swim across.
Nonetheless, The Longing hooked me and I attempted to explore everywhere. Most areas have something amusing you can eventually find. Others literally lead to nowhere, even if you spent minutes watching the Shade climb.
The Longing has purposely no enemies or any life-threatening events. The game is simply to kill time in the most meditative and oddly addictive way. How you will approach those 400 days and achieve your ending is all up to you.
The goal of Forager is to play enough of it until it becomes an idle game.
You start on a tiny secluded island armed with only a pickaxe. From there, it only takes an hour of gameplay before you’re overwhelmed with the amount of busy work.
The main gameplay loop involves gathering an absurd amount of resources to produce buildings, farms, gear, and a myriad of other things. Then, you use your shiny new equipment to gather resources more efficiently until your machines are automated.
Grow your tiny island into a whole empire by purchasing nearby lands with processed gold. These lands also come with interesting content either in the form of quest-giving NPCs, treasure puzzles, or dungeons. Either way, having more land means more resources will spawn on the island.
Dungeons provide a bulk of the game’s challenge. Before diving in, you want to prepare yourself with your best items and healing consumables because it’s a combat gauntlet in there. It’s always punctuated with an epic boss fight and a special dungeon item.
Keeping in theme with the rest of the game, its intricate crafting, skill, and progression system doesn’t hold your hand. You earn experience points for basically any action, from simple chopping down trees to slaying slimes. Then it is up to you to decide where you’ll spend it.
Unlike the other games in this list, Forager demands a much more active input. But as you progress and start to automate more processes, it quickly becomes one of the best idle Steam game choices.
Realm Grinder sees you as the ruler of a fantasy kingdom, complete with inns and blacksmiths. It follows the motions of a standard clicker game wherein you click to earn gold and spend that money to construct buildings which in turn passively earn you gold.
The reason why Realm Grinder is one of the most fun idle games on PC is because it allows you to choose between becoming a good leader or an evil leader. The game states that the former is better for active players while the latter is better for passive income.
Your choice affects everything from your buildings to factions and active spells. For example, deciding to go down the path of darkness turns your land barren with decaying trees. If that wasn’t enough there’s a river of lava surrounding your town.
The buildings you can create also follow the lord of darkness theme. You can build wicked structures like Hell Portals and Slave Pens to passively earn you gold.
There are six factions in this game you can choose to side with and they all provide unique bonuses. I love allying with Demons because their skills amp up the production of late-game structures, perfect for grinding gems in longer sessions.
As with most games on this list, it features a soft reset system where you can start over again, taking your earned gems with you. You also have the option to choose the other side and ally with different factions.
The game has many more surprises in store for you, and it knows exactly when to give it.
Luna’s Fishing Garden
There’s a calming and unusual satisfaction with fishing minigames. Luna’s Fishing Garden is a relaxing 2D idle game that feels like a gentle pat in the back after a long stressful day.
With the game’s charming sprites, relaxing music, and laid-back approach, it immerses you into its calm world. The graphics are so detailed that it is one of the best pixel games on Steam. Luna’s Fishing Gardens elicits an almost zen-like calm for its players.
It starts with your character, Cassie, waking up on an island that is owned by a supernatural fox spirit called Luna. Your goal is to restore the island. To do this, you have to clear trash and debris, trade, plant, and harvest trees to bring more animals to the archipelago. But mostly, you’ll be catching and collecting fish.
If you enjoy playing Stardew Valley, this game will be quite familiar to you. One of the biggest similarities is the fishing minigame. You guide the fish via the green bar until the meter fills up. But unlike Stardew Valley, you have the option to reduce the difficulty of that mechanic.
You can trade these fish with Luna. In exchange, he will give you leaves that you can use to buy more things that can help you generate more currency, as incremental games go. You can also plant trees or gardens which can passively help you generate more leaves.
There’s also a light quest system where you can catch specific fish in exchange for inventory space.
You can finish the main plotline of the game within 3 hours, but you can still have an option to continue playing and keep building. Overall, a short and relaxing experience.
Clicker Heroes starts out deceptively simple but ramps up in complexity the more hours you put into it. Don’t let that discourage you because it’s a straightforward game at its core.
You click monsters until they die and use the gold you looted from them to upgrade your damage per click. Additionally, you can hire companions who will deal their own damage to alleviate the stress from your fingers.
The companions come with special abilities you can unlock at certain level thresholds if you continue investing in them. Eventually, you can leave them alone and they’ll do just fine without your help.
Clicker Heroes shines when you’re able to ascend and start earning hero souls. You can use these souls to buy ancients that serve as buffs and bonuses for you and your heroes. There’s a sheer number of them which means you can customize their effects according to your playstyle.
I prefer ancients that cater to a more passive playstyle like increasing my companion’s damage. But you can opt for a more active build that increases your damage per click.
Here’s a quick tip: be on the lookout for bags randomly placed on the screen. Those are free rubies that you can use to buy premium deals at the shop.
Tap Wizard 2
Tap Wizard is able to perfectly blend active and idle play.
It is primarily an idle game with twin-stick shooter and RPG elements. Additionally, it features surprisingly well-animated pixel art that doesn’t lag despite all the flashy pixels on the screen.
You play as a wizard with several spells that can be equipped at once. They’ll be locked in a closed arena as they try to survive wave after wave against an endless horde of monsters.
Visually, it is a spectacle to watch. All the spells have their own distinctive animations as they tear through the enemies. At any point, you can take over to help the wizard dodge attacks and collect chests and power-ups.
When the wizard dies, they are booted back into the beginning of the wave. You can help your wizard gain further through unlocking perks that activate bonus effects for individual spells.
You can also spend souls you gain from monsters to permanently increase you stats like damage and health. There are also other consumables to help you along the way like runes that gives you certain perks during a run.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an idle game without a prestige system, and in this game, it’s called awakening. When you awaken you can use your points to unlock permanent upgrades shared between all wizards.
AdVenture Capitalist is about using your simple lemonade stand to become a multi-billionaire business tycoon with your hands in almost every industry imaginable. It is an in-your-face satire about money and capitalism that forces to play as the very symbol they’re parodying.
Compared to the other games on this list, AdVenture Capitalist is as uncomplicated as they come. Yet for some reason, it is undeniably addicting. There’s something about watching numbers reach ludicrous heights that sends dopamine rushing through my brain.
Once the cash starts rolling in, you can use this to buy more franchises for your businesses. You can also spend it on upgrades and managers to collect income for you. Let your money work for your more money.
Angel investors serve as the game’s prestige system. By accumulating enough money, you’ll passively attract an angel investor, which you can claim by selling all your businesses and starting over.
In return, each angel investor provides a profit bonus for all your businesses. Furthermore, you can spend angels to unlock permanent upgrades that further increase your profit, adding some light strategy in the game.
Earth alone isn’t enough to hold your greed because with enough cash you can purchase a ticket to the moon and even to mars! Landing on a new planet comes with its own brand new set of businesses and challenges to conquer.
Aside from that there are also limited bonus events that come around during holidays and real-world celebrations. You can participate in these events to earn premium currency for significant boosts to your run.
AdVenture Capitalist knows exactly what kind of game it is and even markets itself as a game to play while playing other better games. Nonetheless, its effortless and fun gameplay earns its place among the best idle games on Steam.
Legends of IdleOn
Legends of IdleOn is perfect for fans of the genre who crave something more complex. It’s also a fun spin on traditional MMORPG’s because you create and manage multiple characters at once— perfect for alt-holics like me.
It has the trappings of a traditional MMORPG where you have to create your own character that starts out as a warrior, mage, or archer. These classes have their own abilities and can promote different subclasses further down the line. There are even secret classes which you can discover further.
What makes classes interesting is that they also have their own skills to gather or craft resources. For example, the Barbarian is great at fishing. Stats also determine the rarity and speed the Barbarian catches fish.
Once you get into the rhythm of juggling multiple characters it’s hard to think about anything else. Even as I’m writing this article right now I’m thinking of the most efficient way to spread out my characters.
Gathering resources is one thing but it will all be for nothing if there’s nothing fulfilling to do with them. Luckily, the crafting system is robust with a sensible progression tree. There are so many items to create to fully customize each of your characters.
Equipping gear lets your combat character tackle stronger monsters and hopefully overcome the world boss. Doing that lets you proceed to the next world, which unlocks a higher tier of progression to repeat the cycle all over again.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be an MMORPG without interacting with other plays. You can trade items with other plays and group up to siege party dungeons. Joining a guild is also a great option to find a community to help you progress.
Friends can definitely help alleviate the friend, or you can drag your significant other for assistance. I know I did which is why it’s my top Steam game to play with a partner.
There are plenty of complex mechanics that I excluded in the interest of time. Give this game a try and navigate through all of its depth and nuances.
NGU Idle is the best incremental game for players who are in it for the long haul. If you navigate its complex UI you’ll find a metric ton of gameplay options for this adventure simulation.
NGU means numbers go up, and with the number of progress bars to keep track of it certainly feels that way. All of these various tabs have their own mini progression system that you can speed up manually, and they’re all interconnected so you could work on one while indirectly pushing the other.
With each rebirth system, you unlock permanent multiplicative upgrades and new features. Each reset feels fresh and there’s most likely a new progress bar to maintain.
As mentioned, this game rewards players who are willing to commit to it long-term. New features may take weeks or months to grind, but it’s always worth it as they significantly boost your power and affect gameplay.
There’s always a goal to work for in this whether a small upgrade to your gear or a new gameplay feature. Also, the game uses a lot of bad puns to keep you entertained along the way.
Inspired by games like Dark Souls and Grim Dawn, Grim Clicker puts on a dreary quest to rid the world of its monsters.
This game has intricate RPG elements like crafting and enchanting stronger equipment. There are also various consumables to help you on your journey.
Grim Clicker earns its spot on the list by offering different ways to play the game through its allocating skill points. There are many skills that change your interactivity with the game. I appreciate that most of them aren’t elementary stat boosts but rather grant different effects.
For example, I wanted to dedicate more active time to the game so I took skills from the wisdom tree. The very skill unlocks a raging blizzard that damages all enemies on screen at the cost of some mana.
For a clicker game, Grim Clicker is more punishing than usual. Your character could die through attrition if you don’t upkeep your gear properly, sending him back to the last realm. Players who love to min-max and crunch numbers would surely feel right at home.
If you feel like your progress is slow and you can’t beat defeat bosses, you could always perform a ritual to reset the game. By doing this you’ll earn premium currency that you can use to unlock permanent upgrades.
This is one of the best clicker games on Steam for those who want to take their time and hate an overwhelming amount of features and numbers.
Loop Odyssey leans heavily into its adventure elements. It lets you control an unlikely hero who is stuck in a time loop.
The main resource to manage in Loop Odyssey is your mana bar. If you lose it you get sent back to your last starting point.
Loop Odyssey is played by planning and setting up multiple actions, from moving to fighting to interacting, and watching how far you get before getting sent back to the start.
Loop Odyssey makes grinding fun because you’re always making minor optimizations to your path. In every run, you’re trying to get the most value out of your mana bar. At the same time, it encourages experimentation because there’s no harsh punishment for failure.
Each loop isn’t a complete reset since repeating the same action reduces its mana cost. There are also upgrades to help increase the efficiency of your character. Once you find a great path, set it on idle for a while so your hero can grind more resources.
It’s refreshing for an idle game to have an end in sight. You have to traverse its dark world while meeting various characters. The game encourages you to experiment when meeting a character since you’re stuck in a consequence-free time loop.
Keeping in theme with the rest of the game, there are multiple endings that you can unlock. Each loop gives you a chance to uncover more of its secrets in hopes of banishing the curse.
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms brings an officially licensed Dungeons and Dragons experience to idle games. Take control over several known heroes through adventures and quests.
This is a treat for fantasy fans because most heroes here will be familiar to you. Renown dwarf Bruenor Battlehammer from the Forgotten Realms novels is the first character given to you. Even Celeste from the Neverwinter MMORPG makes an appearance here.
There’s a heavy emphasis on the story here, especially between the heroes. Their banter is always amusing and provides much of the flavor to your runs. Many familiar locations come back to set the stage for the game.
Battle formation takes center stage here as your heroes’ abilities depend on where you place them. Loot and gear are also important to make sure they survive their trek. Micromanaging here is a bright tactician’s dream.
Actively clicking is employed strategically here. Click damage isn’t significant enough to change the tide of the battle plus you can only damage one target at a time. Instead, you can use it to interrupt enemies and stagger key targets for your party.
If your roster can’t proceed with the current wave they will be booted back to the screen before it. There, they earn gold until you’re ready to proceed.
Cell to Singularity – Evolution Never Ends
Cell to Singularity is a clicker game about life and evolution. You’ll witness the entire lifespan of how Earth came to be and the very history of its inhabitants, until the bitter end.
Cell to Singularity feels like an interactive planetarium. It attempts to simulate how the fundamental single-celled organism flourished into more complex forms of life, as well as how major changes in Earth helped facilitate it.
In the beginning, there was nothing, nothing except entropy— which you gain every time you click. Using this resource you can will important events on planet Earth like giving her volcanoes or summoning the moon.
Eventually, you can purchase amino acids to create the very building blocks of life. Each life form produces entropy on its own, with the more complex multi-cellular ones producing way more.
What’s great about this game is that you can view life in its natural state. For example, you can zoom in the ocean to watch Jellyfish float about with no care in the world. You could even go deeper to watch the tiniest cells mingle together.
From time to time, Cell to Singularity will offer a secondary simulation to take over a specific era. This offers a closer look into important eras of the world like the Mesozoic era.
The game even finds a way to naturally insert a prestige system. Once you reach the end of an era you have the option to trigger an extinction-level event, like the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. You can then start from the beginning while keeping some of your progress.
These rewards spill over into the primary simulation as when you learn in there it reflects in your world. Case in point, completing the second rank of the Mesozoic era unlocks reptiles for your primary world.
Progress is slower than most idle games since it attempts to emulate evolution. Expect to reach the end after a few days of playtime. Sometimes it’s best to let life facilitate itself until it’s ready for the next step.
This is the most informative idle game on Steam since it aims to educate players about everything you purchase. I can’t recommend this game enough and it’s an idle game that you must try.