The Last of Us. Clickers.
That’s all I need to say for anyone who’s played the game to cringe and/or explode with rage. These Tier 2 enemies have lost all humanity as the infection has blossomed out of their brain to replace their head with a series of fungal fronds. They look gross, sound terrifying as they use guttural clicks to hear their surroundings, and are a one-hit kill if they get up on you.
They’re not terribly different from enemies in other games but the major problem in dealing with them is their inconsistency. At times they work like security cameras and you can almost see the vision cone around them as you slowly sneak by or toss a bottle to distract them. At other times — the majority of the time — they seem to come bolting right for you even if you’re sneaking around. The game regularly mixes them in with the crazed “zombie” enemies that attack on sight making it even harder to determine how to solve the designers’ “combat puzzles”.
You might think the best solution is to remove the Clickers entirely but the more I think about it the more I’d like to see a game that pits you solely against them. The game is halfway there already with Joel and Ellie’s unique hearing radar and bottle/brick distraction mechanics. It’s like they wanted to go for a game devoid of gunplay but the risk of not looking exciting enough in trailers forced them into this confusing mashup of the two styles.
In my version, with gunplay and zombie hordes out of the way, the “combat” could become a unique evolution of what we’ve seen from Splinter Cell. Now you might shoot out lights or use a melee weapon to bang on a wall to get the Clickers attention. A BB gun could be the most effective weapon in your arsenal as it fires quietly enough for the game to ignore but lets you shatter glass or ping off of metal surfaces. Dumping a container of BBs down an exposed vent shaft could make for a painful decision: lose a ton of ammo to clear out a whole floor or look for a quieter way around.
Explosives could be cleverly implemented to disorient the Clickers or mask a loud move like busting open a door or freeing a trapped companion. The ultimate power trip — the idea that started this whole thing — would be entering a warehouse full of Clickers and setting off the sprinkler system. With their senses overloaded it would give you freedom to be as loud as possible, running around and taking out Clickers indiscriminately. Don’t get me wrong, I hate those guys — loathe them with a passion — but in the right game they could make for a thrilling new experience.