General game information
Game name: Clustertruck
Release date: September 27, 2016
Price: US$ 14.99 (with a 20% preorder discount bringing the price down to US$ 11.99)
Available on: Steam
Genre: Physics based first person platformer
Developer: Landfall Games
Clustertruck is a physics based first person platform game in which the player must make their way across a sea of trucks in order to reach the end of every level. The entire game is built around that concept, and developers Landfall Games manage to make it work admirably, getting an incredible amount of mileage from such a crazy idea.
The core gameplay loop is always the same, as gamers start each level on top of a moving truck, and must make their way towards the goal (a section of the map marked with a very visible GOAL sign) In order to achieve this objective, players can run and jump, but if they touch the floor, or any surface which isn’t a truck, the level gets restarted instantly. This mechanic may seem frustrating, but thankfully it isn’t, as levels usually take only a few seconds to complete (there is one exception, but it can be taken as a spoiler, and it doesn’t affect my general opinion of the game)
Beating each level and performing tricks such as jumping on top of flying trucks or escaping near death encounters will add points to the player’s bank, which can then be used to purchase new abilities. The player can equip up to two different abilities, and although the levels have been designed so gamers can beat them without even resorting to using those tools, most players will find that the extra options add a ton of depth to the basic gameplay loop of jumping over trucks to reach the exit. Unlockable abilities include nods to other games and fun gags, such as an “epic” mode which adds explosions and black bars to the screen. More useful tools can be equipped as well, and I found that the jetpack plus time slow combo is hard to beat.
As the game progresses, levels get trickier, and getting to the red GOAL sign becomes a much harder task. Luckily, the game doesn’t throw its full arsenal at the player at every turn, choosing a more gradual approach instead. Every ten levels, Clustertruck‘s setting changes, going from a desert themed level to a forest or an ice world, for example. The setting change also brings new obstacles to the track, and there are some neat twists that will certainly get a laugh from most gamers.
Clustertruck‘s main campaign contains 90 levels, separated across 9 different worlds. Most gamers will complete those ninety levels in four hours, or maybe even less, but the replay value is really high, considering that the unlockable abilities can change the flow of the game significantly, and that there are online leaderboards. After the player is done with the campaign, they can create their own levels using the editor provided by Landfall Games, or download user made tracks from the Steam Workshop. Clustertruck also features Twitch integration, letting viewers vote on different ingame events, such as randomly inverted controls, exploding trucks, and more.
The game’s audiovisual design is as excellent as its gameplay, and it features a minimalist look that may remind gamers of SUPERHOT, another indie hit released this year. Every new world brings a completely different color palette to the table, and the music also changes significantly, something that helps to keep the game fresh, even if the general concept never changes.
Ultimately, Clustertruck proves that first person platforming can be incredibly fun, and that not all games need a complex concept in order to keep players engaged.
9/10 – Great.