Game Review: Clustertruck

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

I am not sure Thomas Edison had Clustertruck in mind when he said that, but it is good to keep in mind. Clustertruck, developed by Landfall Games and published by tinyBuild, is a fast paced and challenging 3D platformer. The premise is very simple and very honest. Landfall promises “pure trucking chaos” and delivers that 100%. The chaos may seem insurmountable at times, but persistence and repetition are key to mastering all 90 outlandish levels.

Narrative

In a post apocalyptic future where the world has become absolutely toxic you are the game’s protagonist Max Rider, humanity’s last hope. Truck the big rig superhighway and get trucked, as you truck from one exotic locale to the next. Truck, truck truckity truck truck. Just kidding! This game has absolutely no narrative, but that is OK. You won’t have time to ask too many questions as you navigate any of the dynamic obstacle ridden levels.

Clustertruck_lasers

Gameplay

Clustertruck has a deceptively simple gameplay mechanic. Leap from truck to truck and DO NOT touch the ground or anything else that isn’t a truck. Despite the simplicity of it, Clustertruck is incredibly challenging.

Clustertruck_Long_Gif

There is constant momentum, partly because you are being timed and partly because the course itself is in motion. The trucks are moving, falling, crashing constantly. This combined with the dynamic obstacles of higher levels such as pendulums, lasers, or bombs to name a few. You have to keep moving and that creates a frantic atmosphere.

Each course has a general flow of behavior, but that flow can develop obstacles differently each time. Sometimes a truck will roll early, others will fall off an edge it hadn’t fallen off from last time you played the course. Understanding the fundamentals of the Clustertruck and learning to navigate the obstacles is your best strategy. Through repetition, you will see progress that’s actually rewarding. Each time, you will refine your methodology until you can reach that “Goal” banner.

Every time you complete a level, you will be able to see the leaderboards for that level. Leaderboards are based on your time, and you can challenge any name on the leaderboard to compete against its ghost. Completing levels and doing it in style will also earn you style points. These are a combination of trick points which can be earned by jumps, air time, creative platforming, completing a level, and completing it quickly. These points can be used to unlock perks that can help you in the game. These include a double jump, a grappling hook, or the ability to freeze trucks themselves. Each has its own activation and cooldown.

Clustertruck_Unlockables

Jumping is the primary mechanic for movement, but landing masterfully is the challenge. Some levels will require navigating around or through tight spaces, while others will feel more like an exercise in controlled falling. As the entire thing is done in first person, it can make it difficult to properly judge your progress. Especially when everything is constantly moving. While tools can help you leap from truck to truck, it doesn’t makes this any easier.

Multiplayer

Sadly no. Clustertruck only has the previously mentioned leaderboards. When you’re grateful you survived that last course, you can rack your brain wondering how someone did it in half your pathetic time.

Clustertruck also features a map building element. Although it is not complete as of yet, it will feature Steam Workshop integration and allow players to build and share new and more insane maps in the future.

Clustertruck_Ice_world_falling

Performance & Graphics

The graphics are very simple. It gives Clustertruck a clean 3D aesthetic that’s almost geometric. The assets are basic and lack detail, but the frantic leaping from truck to truck combined with the dynamic environments, obstacles, and explosions create a visually striking experience.

It’s very light on requirements with the minimum set at 2Ghz processor, 4 GB RAM, Direct X 9.0, and less than 500 MB hard drive space. The game will even run if you have an integrated graphics card, although only at a pitiful maximum 720p. All that means is Clustertruck can be loaded onto most systems with no issue and play smoothly. Loading times, or reloading times because you will be doing that a lot, are instantaneous. It’s very Groundhog Day-esque, repeating yourself until you make that perfect run with no waiting.

Clustertruck_Geometry

Audio

There is no exposition, just the sound of trucks being destroyed and an amped-up electronic soundtrack. It fits the frantic nature of the game well, keeping the mood upbeat and summoning all your laser focus into each maneuver.

Final Thoughts

Clustertruck’s simple graphics put the focus on the platforming and makes it friendly for just about any system.  The price seems a little steep for a platformer ($14.99), but Clustertruck offers a lot of content with 90 levels and a map editor. Some may find the repetition tedious or frustrating, but you won’t be bored with every world offering a unique set of challenges.

The game is challenging and almost impossible at times, but it rewards persistence. Even the dynamic courses can be mastered if you keep at it. As you replay the same level over and over, you can see your own improvements even with the small things shift each time. All of which makes it highly addicting to play. No matter how many times I ended just short of the finish line, I was ready to go again because “this time I have it”.

Score: 8

Clustertruck is available now for PC.

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