By Edwin Velez
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on October 27th, 2016 for Xbox One, Also on PS4 & PC
Developer: Landfall Games Publisher: tinyBuild
NOTE: This article was updated on 5/30/18 to reflect our thoughts on the Nintendo Switch Version
Platformers are definitively a classic genre. It takes bold risks to stand out in such a genre that has so many formidable names in its classification. Clustertruck is almost certainly a risk taker, and unlike anything in the field that you are familiar with. It’s less like Mario and more like Super Meat Boy, but weighing comparisons will in no way, shape or form be enough to truly describe it. Clustertruck is totally unique, and will draw players in with its tests of skill, its enticing formula, and its subtle hilarity. Though a difficult patch in the game has haltered me from beating it in its entirety, my time with Clustertruck was a blast and unlike any other platformer I have experienced.
Clustertruck takes the simple concept of getting from point A to B, and basically throws literal tons worth of semi-trucks into the mix. At first glance, it is a hilarious off the wall title (which it is), but the more you play the more you will realize that it is truly skill based. Players run and jump along the tops of these semi-trucks on a path to a finish line. The trucks themselves are (usually) also racing towards the finish line. You need to successfully navigate your way across them, while basically playing the most intense game of “the floor is hot lava”. Many of the trucks will not make the trip, and many levels will take multiple tries before you succeed. Thankfully, the formula is extremely inviting even with failure in mind. The games set up feels mobile in a sense, with levels being separated and repayable. When you fail a level, you can replay extremely quickly, with no loading time in between. This helps when practicing, as you can get right back on track and continue to perfect your path. The paths themselves vary a lot across the eight different worlds, each of which contain ten levels.
All of the maps have different themes and with those themes come different obstacles. The first two worlds are fairly simple, with just moving, crashing, and falling being your obstacles. At the Laser World is where you will first start to see the diabolical attitude that some levels have. Huge red lasers line the world, and running into them means certain death. That’s just one of the crazy things you will run into during your many, many runs. Lasers, Rockets, Traps, and even a boss fight will try to halter your path to the goal. They add a great variety to the mix, and always make the themes even more fitting then the general aesthetics. All is not lost though if you find yourself unable to master the courses. There are a handful of abilities you can purchase to potentially make things easier. Abilities like Jetpack, Levitate, and Double Jump further close the gaps between you and your target, while others like Trucker Flip and Truck Boost up will allow you to manipulate the trucks themselves. There are also Utilities that are a secondary ability type. Though there are less options, they have more varied uses. One gives you double points, another allows you to spawn a truck at will, the third freezes all trucks, and the final allows you to slow time. These add fun to the game as well as potentially allowing you to beat levels with ease. Honestly though, I found the game to be more enjoyable without their use. It was fun to play it with only skill in mind, starting a level over and over again until completion was much more gratifying and rewarding.
Possibly my only issue with the game is that the difficulty can be aggravating, but I only found that to be true on a few levels. The one that has had me stumped is level 7-5, in which the potential for success seems entirely luck based. It’s either luck, or landing a very, very precise movement that can only be lined up if the Truck Gods lay out the semi’s in your favor. Aside from that, I have no complaints. Its formula is addicting, the music is groovy, and it is just genuinely fun. It could use some more aesthetic flair, like maybe customizable truck skins or something along those lines, but otherwise needs nothing additionally. Clustertruck is a balls to the wall platformer that will test your skills to the fullest, but reward your hard work with a sense of satisfaction.
NINTENDO SWITCH NOTES:
As part of our ongoing efforts to check out Switch port’s qualities, I recently decided to revisit ClusterTruck, the highly unique platformer that puts an emphasis on hand eye coordination and traffic jams of the best variety. The above initial review will tell you all about it, but what these notes are here to do is tell you about the port’s effectiveness. Now all this high octane fun is ready to join you on the go. With all the antics that happen on screen, I am happy to say that ClusterTruck is running like its fresh off the lot, and by that I mean smooth and seemingly no issues. No frame dips or graphical sacrifices are evident on my end, though I will say the game is a bit tougher with the JoyCons analog sticks versus that of the more tightly controlling Xbox One controller. If you are playing with a Pro Controller though, you should find your maneuverability to be a tighter. This version has all the bells and whistles, including the Halloween and Winter map sets which add even more to the mix. Fans of the game and newcomers alike will find this to be a suitable port, bringing ClusterTruck to your truck or really anywhere else you want to bring it!
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 7.5/10
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