Occasionally, late at night, I like to imagine the lives of the heroes of the various games that we, people, play. Just run with me on this for a moment, indulge my brief insanity here please, this will all make sense shortly. Imagine if you will that Mario has hung up his dungarees and settled down for a bit of quiet time in the castle with Princess Peach, Link has gone off for a romantic walk with Zelda, in most cases, the heroes of the piece get to enjoy some respite.
Developer: Landfall Games
Genre: Jumping from truck to truck
Release date: 27 Sep, 2016
So spare a thought for the people who inhabit the world of speedrun games, because they don’t GET a day off, theirs is to toil, they have no escape, generally no ending which involves a quiet day in the sunset. No, their job is to keep charging suicidally ever faster until they go splat into something. Now, if the job of a speedrunner is bad, then whoever inhabits the world of clustertruck must have been a kitten killer in a previous life, because now, I want you to picture the following world:
- If the surface you are standing on is a truck, or part of a truck, you will live. The truck must be white, have eight wheels, and must be in motion at the time, which direction the truck is travelling in is irrelevant, as long as the engine is running and it’s capable of being roadworthy. Destroyed trucks do not count, nor do parked trucks, only trucks which are moving will keep you alive, and only white trucks, painted white from cabin to rear doors.
- If the surface is anything BUT the aforementioned white truck, regardless of whether it is in flight, in motion, suspended in the air, made out of paper or steel, regardless of material, location or movement, it will kill you with the slightest of touches.
- If you die, you will be resurrected and placed on top of a moving truck.
Fortunately, we’re not talking about Milton Keynes
Now, what kind of sin would you have had to commit to be placed in that kind of world. Welcome to Clustertruck. These are the rules. Thankfully, we do not live in that world, we are the merciless puppet master who controls the poor sod who has to live there, and well, it’s damn good fun. Your job is pretty much summed up as above, you have a goal, and by hook or by crook you must get there by only touching the surface of trucks, any truck that’s still working (regardless of if it’s decided to take a swan dive) is fair game, all you have to do is not touch ANYTHING. The floor, the walls, the wooden bars, the complex rotating … things… that populate world three, or when you hit world 4, well you see this…
Wut. Are you sure that’s not Mission Impossible?
Oh dear lordie lordie, yes, it’s about as terrifying as it seems, and it only gets worse from there, it really does. The controls are tight and responsive, in a game like this where split second decisions make the difference between life and respawn, it pays that the control system is clean and quick on the uptake, there’s a neat little upgrade system that allows you a couple of “perks”, all of which have potentially humorous consequences (like the pocketwatch that may destabilize the universe in exchange for slow mo) and the whole package feels genuinely tight and well thought out. The campaign mode gets you very much into the whole mentality of avoiding the floor at all costs and some people have already set some absolutely bonkers times (I’m talking well inside the 10 second range for most levels, it’s truly crazy stuff).
In case THAT’S not enough, there’s Twitch integration for those kinds of people, and an editor in case you want to design some particularly fiendish levels and share your creations with the world. It’s polished and very clearly designed with the entire package being presented well, and running at a smooth framerate (to be fair, the graphics aren’t exactly taxing, but they’re not supposed to be, this game is about providing just enough visual info so you know WHAT to do and when to do it, not about masses of pretty).
From humble seeds great games grow.
Considering this game stemmed out of a free throwaway joke aimed in light hearted humor at SuperHOT, this has actually turned out to be a really pleasant surprise, from that joke came a well thought out and rather nifty little speedrunner that actually isn’t ridiculously hard, which is the “thing” most speedrunners do, meaning mere mortals can play and enjoy it, whilst at the same time offering the ability to score attack it and having leaderboards for the most dedicated to show off their skills. The music is suitably quick and cheerful, and avoids most of the cliche traps that most speedrunners tend to drop into, again, another pleasant surprise, though sound effects are limited to a honk and a crunch, which is fair comment considering the subject material.
It’s not super hexagon, but then what is. However, it is clustertruck, and that’s a very good place for this game to be. Tiny Build and Landfall games have done a very good job here, and have converted a simple idea into something that stands up well in the genre. In short? Good show, and well worth fifteen trucks.
… I’ll see myself out.
Verdict : A solid thumbs up and a recommendation here. Get your truck on folks.