Clustertruck is a first-person piece of physics silliness that was recently released on Steam. It is the second game from LandFall Games, a little Scandinavian developer who made last year’s Square Brawl. The game is published by tinyBuild (No Time to Explain), who are becoming the go-to indie publisher for high-octane platformers. If you’re looking for intense gameplay under the most preposterous of circumstances, here is a treat for you.
What Is Clustertruck?
Clustertruck is a game about jumping through a cluster*beep* of trucks without touching the ground or hitting obstacles. You must hop through a caravan of identical white tractor-trailers as they charge down environments and collide into each other. Clustertruck is the standard highway chase sequence of any Hollywood movie turned up to the point of wonderful absurdity. Then turned up ever further. Imagine Mad Max: Fury Road but with extra helpings of pure motor mass, and you have Clustertruck. But that’s only the beginning. The game continues to get crazier and crazier until you’re in Hell, fighting Satan who is a fiery giant made out of trucks.
Huge pendulums knock trucks off the highway. Waterfalls of trucks pour from the sky. Trucks are thrown in every direction, and you must leap through the chaos to reach the goal. You’re navigating a frenetic automobile frenzy. You leap desperately forward, not entirely sure where you’ll land, hoping a truck bed is below you. Levels force you to make 90-degree turns onto new lines of big rigs, or dive blindly across chasms, or scramble to dodge oncoming traffic that will smack your ride around in unpredictable angles. Since chaos theory is a hateful branch of mathematics, trucks often do not follow the same behavior between levels. This means you will constantly be surprised by new ways to die.
The Joy of Unfairness
Clustertruck is a cruel game that is designed to kill you. And that’s part of the appeal. This is pure classic masochism gameplay. There are nine worlds with ten stages each, and most of the length is created from seemingly impossible demands. The typical issues with first-person platforming return here. Unlike Mirror’s Edge you have no feet, so you can’t judge where you’re going to land or if you’ve dodged obstacles. It’s frustrating, but also encourages sloppy, mad-rush play. Precision is next-to-impossible, so you might as well charge forward with all abandon.
It’s unfair and brutal, but that’s the fun. This game is designed to be a meat grinder of audacious action. Levels only last seconds, and reload after death is as instantaneous as the touch of a button. You can die hundreds of times in the span of a few minutes without losing the smooth flow.
But it’s not unfair. Just touching a truck gives you the option to jump. You can wall jump between two caravan lines, or barely hit the back of a trailer and climb up, or bounce around Advent Children–style between mid-air trucks soaring in crazy trajectories. There are also options to unlock movement abilities like double jumps, the ability to slow time, and the en vogue video game item of the year: grappling hooks.
Clustertruck is a perfect joke game. I mean that in the nicest way possible. But it’s a well-crafted joke with very silly but gripping gameplay. It’s the perfect little indie game for a boring afternoon, or to watch on a YouTube Let’s Play.