Clustertruck: A Clusterload Of Fun

clustertruck

The mindless truck I’m on board drives forward to a launch pad. Swoosh. I quickly rise up in the air, 1,000 feet easy. Not sure where to go, I decide to let gravity take its plunge and sink me back to the bottom of the launch pad so I can rise again, racking up points for air time. By the time I was at the peak height in the air, I was pretty sure I had to go somewhere. I couldn’t touch the ground or it would be game over. My only option was to find a truck to land on. So I tilt the analog stick forward and hold the right trigger down for faster movement through the air. Sure enough, far off in the distance some more trucks are on their way, moving away from me. Luckily, my character has a double-jump ability, and with that, I barely made it to the top of the last truck in the pack. When I completed that level, I got a huge score bonus along with the message “MOTHERTRUCKING INCREDIBLE.” Yeah. Seriously.

Now, I’m going to be pretty frank and say the only reason why I bought Clustertruck in the first place was so I could get early access to Totally Accurate Battle Simulator (TABS). I didn’t have much care for Clustertruck at the time. But now that I’ve played it, I can say I actually had some good fun with it. Developed by Landfall Games, Clustertruck, as the name implies, involves a group of trucks moving forward with no apparent destination. You, as the player, stand on top of these trucks, constantly hop between them, and try to make it to the end of the level without touching the ground or any other obstruction that might get in the way, be it lasers, giant hammers swinging on a pendulum, or a solid gold pipe that blatantly stands in front of you. The trucks are your only safe haven.

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But you’re constantly on the move. You can’t trust these trucks, as they often move forward with no other direction in mind. They have complete and utter disregard for any and all obstacles in the way. So, say there’s this big wall right before them. These mindless truckers will drive right into it, forcing you to jump over, hopefully landing on another set of trucks on the other side to keep moving forward. Sometimes a barrage of trucks will pour into the main floor of the level, or sometimes they’ll get shot out of a cannon, and while the game isn’t over if you hit one, they can push you right off the truck you’re standing on. I don’t know if there are actual drivers behind the wheels of these trucks that are just begging for suicide, or so drunk that they’ve lost all sense of direction, or the trucks are automated with the gas pedal taped to the floor. I can only hope it’s the latter.

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There are nine worlds to explore, including forest, sci-fi, steam-punk, and medieval environments, with ten levels each. The texture quality is pretty barebones simple, but enough to distinguish each world. These levels are a breeze to go through; by the time I finished the last level I was only two hours into the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone could speedrun the thing in less than ten minutes. But getting a game over can be frustrating, as there are no checkpoints and you have to start from the beginning. In the event a level proves to be too difficult, you can buy abilities with the points that you earn by completing levels. The more risks you take in a level, the more points you earn — for instance, air time, narrowly escaping a hazardous environment, and the speed with which you complete the level. These abilities will enhance your performance to give you the upper edge in conquering whatever challenge you’re facing. These abilities are split into two categories: Movement and Utility. Movement will, of course, enhance the player’s maneuverability within the environment, be it double-jumping, dashing through the air, a grappling hook that will save you from not landing on a truck, and several others. Utility abilities will alter the environment; trucks can freeze, time can be slowed for easier traversal, or a truck can be spawned at your location in case of emergency. Bear in mind, though, you cannot equip more than one Movement or more than one Utility ability at a time.

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The first-person perspective adds a bit of nostalgia and more of an immersive experience, although it would’ve also been cool if the game took place in third-person, so you can observe your surroundings better and maybe even establish some kind of identity with the character you’re using. Such would give the game an interesting lore. Why is this guy here in the first place, anyways? Why trucks? Why not cars or even airplanes? What’s wrong with the ground? Why can’t the player touch it?

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A neat thing is there’s this editor which you can use to make your own levels. I haven’t given this a shot yet, as the mouse cursor disappears in the editor menu, but there are plenty of levels that one can try with the Steam workshop, giving the game more re-playability value. Also, if you’re a streamer, Clustertruck makes it easy to log in using Twitch.

No complaints as far as the Linux version is concerned. It runs beautifully. Controller was picked up just fine. No hiccups and absolutely no crashes, which is something that’s unusual with Unity on Linux! Here’s a speedrun of the “Lasers” world:

Clustertruck is pretty fun, fast-paced, fluent, and delivers an on-the-edge-of-your-seat experience. I recommend anyone who pre-ordered to keep it. Hopefully we’ll get TABS soon.

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