Clustertruck is a fast-paced indie platformer from relatively new developer Landfall Games that sees you leaping from truck to truck, like Neo from The Matrix, in a bid to reach the finish line in a respectable time without touching the floor.
At first Landfall's frantic first-person platformer seems like a simple speed challenge game, but look a little deeper and you'll find considerable depth for an indie game, as it sucks you in with its addictive, just one more go mind-set, spurring you on to perfectly leap from point to point in the most stylish fashion possible.
The game utilises a fairly simple control system in which the player can run, jump and activate abilities as they traverse the traffic. They do have a somewhat clumsy feel to them at times, which may very well be intentional in a bid to deliver a more precarious experience, hence the title of the game.
When it came to the graphics Clustertruck opted for stylised, stark, simple visuals, comparable to fellow indie game Superhot. The comparisons do not end there, though. The lack of any narrative story coupled with the fast-paced, repetitive, puzzle solving theme to Clustertruck results in a lot of similarities between the two, although Landfall's truck jumper does not quite have the same personality as the aforementioned shooter.
One thing that really contributes to the hidden depth of this game is the Abilities. Adding a bit of much needed flavour these Abilities are separated into two sections, Movement and Utility. The player can pick one from each in a bid to find new and imaginative ways to get better times and higher scores. Some of the better Movement options included Levitation, where you can literally hover for a few seconds, giving you a second chance at landing on another truck, and Truck Boost, which lets you speed up the truck you are on, hurtling you further into the chaos. The game also offers some interesting Utilities including Time Slow, which is self-explanatory, basically you are Neo, and Portable Truck is for those times you find yourself propelling towards the ground without a safe place to land, which is quite often.
If you are a fan of mid-range '90s techno/platformer music then you will undoubtedly love Clustertruck's soundtrack, which although can be a little bland at times, does occasionally make you feel like a complete badass, as you slow-motion jump through explosions to heart pounding beats. Although the lack of variety in the music does become frustrating after a while, especially as the game significantly ramps up in difficulty later on and you find yourself repeating the same level multiple times. Of course you always have the option of listening to your own music whilst playing, and being a non-narrative game, the volume is not ultimately required.
Featuring nine worlds for you to explore from the top of fast moving trucks, Clustertruck's story mode offers players some interesting sights, although they do seem to somewhat lack in diversity. Although the worlds have different music and themes some still feel strikingly similar, leaving you with a feeling of déjà vu. There are some exceptionally well designed levels amidst the usual suspects though. Laser world was a neon themed funky playground which at times felt like being in a nightclub, but still captured its own feel and identity, which made it stand out. Medieval world also offered a change from the norm, as huge hammers and battering rams shattered the trucks under your feet as you dodged flamethrowers. The last world, Hell, also offered something interesting, making the floor lava and ramping up the difficulty in a new and frustrating way, but it was also a predictable choice to end the journey.
What may interest a lot of players is the option to create and share your own challenges by crafting Mario Maker-like levels, with players able to create hellish maps for fellow truck jumpers to partake in. From the look of the system things are fairly simple, which is no bad thing, but will likely appeal to a more dedicated crowd as they look to expand on what the game has to offer. Although with the sharing of custom maps being easily accessible through Steam there should be a plethora of content available to download, further expanding the life of the game, which is a positive for anybody who enjoys it.
Essentially what starts out as a fun, relatively easy speed-run game ramps up to give the player a true challenge as it gets a lot faster and significantly more difficult, with certain levels taking a considerable amount of time to complete. In this sense Clsutertruck could be compared to Trials Fusion, which similarly brings in new mechanics, in this case intersections, obstacles and huge jumps, as you near the end of the game and start to feel more fluid and confident.
Overall when it works it offers a satisfying experience where you leap from truck to truck perfectly timing jumps and flying through the air stylishly hoping from air-borne vehicles. At other times, though, it feels like blind luck as you randomly get through levels or unexpectedly get that high score you have been chasing and that is the only real downside to what is a respectably solid and addictive indie game.
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