Clustertruck is a First Person Platformer that has you jumping from truck to truck in the hopes of reaching the finish line without bailing out. Touching the floor, ceiling or anything not related to that gas-powered hunk of metal barreling through the stage will result in immediate death. These truckers will not wait for you to progress at your own pace. They are determined to deliver their Amazon packages on time and have no need for useless actions such as braking or slowing down. Once their foot is on the pedal, it is sheer chaos with your character possibly being the craziest of them all, as he uses a scenario straight out of a Micheal Bay film to play hopscotch.
At first, it starts off easy enough with the trucks driving in a straight line, and you can sit back to enjoy the scenery. Doing tricks, getting some air time in between jumps and speed running your way through the stage in question will grant you more Style Points that work as a currency to unlock new abilities. The catch there being that if you get too fancy, you may risk an avoidable death and in turn gain nothing for your efforts. These leads to rather intense moments where you must decide whether to focus on gaining points and shooting up the leader-boards or mere survival. There are no limits to the amount of times you can retry a level, so learning stages is not only viable but kind of required for the later, more unpredictable levels.
Also worth noting is that people that don’t use any abilities and complete stages with only the basic jump are on a leaderboard of their own as to have a more even playing field instead of which load-out works best. For those that are not interested in competing with other players there is more than enough content to make your way through and even beating the game can come as an accomplishment since it gets very challenging. There are nine worlds with ten stages each and one can easily blaze through the first three zones. After that, the difficulty will gradually increase until you start wondering how in the world you are supposed to get through an area and are forced to find out how while moving at incredible speeds.
The developers like to occasionally mess with the player adding a playful charm to the game. Such a case is a level where the ending sign says “Coal” instead of goal and the real end is far easier to reach than you may imagine. And that is during the late game where most devs would focus purely on the challenge yet they find time for a quick laugh which you just have to appreciate. On the flip side of that coin, there are insane situations you have to get through and can’t help but think they are joking. Unfortunately for us they are not and will find out why only 12% of Steam gamers have finished the game. Whoever can finish Clustertruck without any abilities truly has both the patience of a saint and reflexes surpassing any character from the Matrix.
For us skrub gamers we have quite a range of abilities to help us inch our way towards victory. These range from slowing down time, spawning a truck or even a jetpack to the more drastic modifications such as “SuperTruck” where time only moves when you do. All of them cost quite a pretty penny, so experimentation is very limited at first. In fact, it may be a bit too limited, by the time one finishes the campaign you could have more than half of them still locked. Clustertruck has Workshop support with a decent amount of content to play through as well as official bonus holidays maps to make your way through. Both do gain you more points for completing them which is nice though with such a simplistic game it can be all too easy to lose interest before experiencing all the different ways to play it.
In a particularly tough level, one may spend quite a bit of time trying to get through it, and due to points only being given if you can make it to the finish, this can lead to it feeling like a drag. With how quick you can reload the stage to try again, it is more of a slight nuisance than anything though in my opinion, the pricing for abilities are far too much, making it feel like a grind more so than progress. Since I’m mentioning the negatives, I may as well talk about the crazy truck physics. They are definitely a double edged sword as each time you replay a level, things can go very differently though on the other hand, it can really cheat you out of a victory at times when they work against you.
While at times frustrating one thing Clustertruck is not is boring. You never know what to expect, and as you miss a jump and find yourself fall into the abyss, one can’t help but wonder how they come up with the crazy levels. They have a ton of variety and either great love for trucks or nothing but hatred for them, it is difficult to tell at times. Trying to outrun a roaring avalanche, desperately trying to jump your way up a downpour of trucks and jumping your way across some impaled trucks in hell are some of the challenges that await. The amount of creativity here is praiseworthy and truly is unlike any other platformer that I have seen.
Normally one would play this genre with a controller though oddly enough I found myself preferring keyboard & mouse. You simply have far better control of the camera than a gamepad can provide and you need to be able to take heed of your environments at all times. Pulling a 180 in mid-air to drop on top of a platform below is something you will have to do on occasion, and this title does not allow you to spare any time in the later levels. All in all, Clustertruck does have some flaws but at its core, it is entertaining and one heck of a rush. With the amount of content on offer, it is a pretty good value, and the addition of Steam Workshop makes the prospect of coming back from time to time all too tempting. If you’ve ever caught yourself waiting in traffic behind a 12 wheeler while you’re in a hurry or simply enjoy nonstop truck exploding action, Clustertruck is a great addition to your library.
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