By: Matthew Striplen
When approaching a new game, I always try not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, Clustertruck‘s name perfectly sums up its contents. With trucks racing around the screen from every angle, ride along in this action-packed adventure to the finish line.
As far as the control scheme is concern, Clustertruck uses standard inputs. WASD controls movement, while the mouse is used to look around the environment. However, all the controls are very touchy, especially the keyboard inputs.
Once the player gets up to speed, things feel a bit better, but the game allows very little time for players to become accustomed to the speed of the game. Lag was also a significant issue with delays up to two seconds.
Clustertruck‘s graphics are simple but effective. Much of the world doesn’t have textures, but it appears to be an aesthetic choice rather than an oversight. In fact, the lack of detail in the environment makes the player focus on gameplay rather than the surroundings.
Unfortunately, the soundtrack is rather forgettable. Light rock pervades throughout but adds little to the overall experience. Aside from some honking trucks, little ambient noise is present, either.
As you might’ve gathered from the title, Clustertruck is all about trucks, though instead of driving them, players must traverse across their roofs and sides to make it to the finish line, all without ever touching the earth. All trucks are identical, but what makes the game interesting is the trucks’ layout, behavior and environmental obstacles.
The first few levels have neatly aligned rows of trucks that cluster together to make a pathway, but by the end players will have to traverse much more treacherous terrain.
Some levels have very few trucks, so players must make precision jumps to survive. Other times, trucks will alter their speed or direction at unpredictable times, which can cause players to slide off the back of the vehicle. Also, these changes in direction often cause accidents of epic proportions, so be careful not to get thrown.
Each world of Clustertruck has a different theme, ranging from desert to something much more futuristic, and obstacles that come along with these environments change drastically. Colossal pillars of stone crumble when struck by trucks in the desert, causing chaos, while anti-gravity devices fling anything that they come in contact with high up in the air.
After completing each level, you’re rewarded with style points, which can be spent to unlock latent abilities. These abilities are crucial to progress and include skills such as a double jump, an air dash, or spawning a truck directly in front of the player. More points are awarded depending on the player’s performance, so it’s always a good idea to reach the finish line quickly and stylishly.
If you’re feeling creative, Clustertruck offers an extensive level designer. Players can create, test and play anything they can imagine. Spawn trucks at will and create obstacles that require death defying leaps to overcome. Aspiring game designers and sandbox genre fans are sure to enjoy this function.
Unfortunately, Clustertruck is not a perfect game. If you’re running it on anything less than top-of-the-line hardware, technical problems are sure to arise. Plus, control issues make play difficult and undermine the greater themes of the experience. The significant lag coupled with the oversensitive movement controls create a learning curve which is frustrating to navigate.
Clustertruck, which receives my award for Best Game Title of 2016, is a first-person parkour game centered on trucks. Plenty of variety is sure to keep players interested, but the imperfect controls and other technical problems prevent the game from reaching its true potential.