Clustertruck-Promo-Art-Fullsize.jpgOn a whim this weekend, in between frustrating Daggerfall dungeon delving (though I’m starting to get the hang of it), I decided to drop $15 on Clustertruck, an indie game on PS4 and Steam. And I’m really glad I did.

Clustertruck is a first-person platformer with a unique twist. You ride on nondescript tractor trailers through a nondescript landscape, running and jumping from truck to truck to reach the goal. If you touch the ground or anything that isn’t a truck for that matter, you lose and have to restart to level. At first it seems simple, jumping from truck to truck, but soon it becomes crazy as trucks crash into each other and parts of the level, flying off cliffs, as  you perform death-defying several story leaps from truck to truck. It’s crazy fun that never gets stale. It has that fast-paced, arcade-style, pick-up-and-play feel to it, where you can play just a level or three, or binge the whole game within a day or two (like I did). The controls feel weird and floaty at first, but you’ll get the hang of it in a few levels. My only real gripe with the controls is the inability to remap the controls by default, as the fast paced running and jumping makes it difficult to take your thumb off the right stick to press the X button it would be really nice to be able to map jump to a shoulder button like L1. At any rate, Clustertruck lends really well to playing with a buddy or three as well, provided you switch off per death or perhaps per level.

Clustertruck-Review-Screenshot-1.jpgThere are 90 total stages in Clustertruck: 9 worlds with 10 levels each. All 9 worlds are thematic ranging from a Desert, to Sci-fi, to Hell itself. Each world often introduces a new obstacle in some way that makes it unique, or prepares you for tougher stages in the future, like instant kill lasers that move around, or pressure plates that launch trucks high into the sky. As you progress through the 9 worlds, the difficulty ramps up in a fair, yet challenging way. As you complete stages, you’ll also rack up Style Points for performing stunts like just barely jumping off a truck before it explodes, jumping off a truck that is also midair, and maintaining a lot of air time at once. If you fail the stage, however, you won’t get to keep your Style Points, which lends well to “should I try this crazy stunt, or just focus on clearing the stage?” sort of thinking. You’ll also get bonus Style Points for completing a level, more so if you complete it quickly, or clear it without having to retry.

After you’ve accrued enough Style Points, you can spend them on Abilities and Utilities. You may have one of each equipped at any time, but can swap between any you own between levels. 861852-clustertruck-windows-screenshot-the-game-s-second-world.jpgAbilities range from the simple, yet incredibly useful double jump, to air dashes, grappling hooks, jet packs and more, while Utilities offer things like slowing time, a portable truck you can throw in capsule form, freezing all trucks momentarily, and a double point mode for the daredevil in you. These simple tools are fun, and offer a nice change up in gameplay, but are not necessary. All levels were designed with the intention of being able to complete them with no Abilities or Utilities.

The presentation is a very simplistic, cel-shaded sort of cartoon style that really works for Clustertruck, seeing as the rest of the game is fairly simplistic as well. There are no real backgrounds though, as the world just seems to trail off into nothingness, making me wish a little more effort was put into them, and giving the game an almost “unfinished” feel to it. That said, it still works with Clustertruck, and rarely will you have time to look at anything other than the upcoming trucks anyway. Perhaps it was a design choice to keep you focuses. The music is electronic, which also lends will to Clustertruck, as it is fairly catchy, and never really gets annoying or repetitive feeling. Each world has its own theme, so you’ll experience a few different tracks throughout your play.

The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Fast-paced, arcade-style, pick-up-and-play gameplay that has you playing “just one more level”.
  • A presentation that mostly works for it.
  • Plenty of variation in level design, and the Ability/Utility system lends well to extra playability.

Cons

  • Simplistic to non-existent backgrounds.
  • Can be completed pretty quickly, especially if you’re skilled.
  • After you complete it, there are few reasons to play through again.
  • Inability to remap controls on PS4 (Get it on PC instead, if you can).

Final Score: 9/10

Clustertruck is great fun. Though I personally feel as though the $15 price tag is a little steep for the amount of time you get out of it, the amount of fun you’ll have during that time is well-worth it. If you’re looking for some fast-paced, arcade-style, pick-up-and-play action, pick it up, especially if it goes on sale for $10.

Advertisements