Game developers sure love making puns with F-bombs, don’t they? Big Mutha Truckers quickly comes to mind. There’s even already a game called Clusterpuck 99. I suppose that great minds think alike? Either way, I have been curious about Clustertruck for a while now. I remember when it launched on Steam and thought it was a VR game. The sudden announcement that it would launch on Switch was a tad questionable to me, but it gave me a good opportunity to try the game out at long last.
The first-person view is what got me to think this was a VR game at first glance. Thinking about it now, though, it wouldn’t work as such. The frame rate is smooth-ish for the most part, but there’s a good amount of frame drops that would require a few barf bags to get over if people did wear VR headsets to play. Still, the visuals are relatively simple. All you see are trucks along linear roads with simple textures until the “Goal” sign comes along. Things get more interesting in later levels when it comes to visual flair (as you see in the screenshots, of course), but don’t expect any complex textures.
There’s background music for every world in Clustertruck, but I felt as indifferent to the pieces as I have for Mr. Shifty. It’s not like the tunes are bad or anything. They just felt like they were only there for the sole purpose of being background music. One sound that came to mind was the blaring horn of any truck on the field. I thought it was hilarious enough that a bunch of trucks are randomly driving into deadly situations, but the horns that play as soon as they crash into and with each other drive home this brand of humor to me.
I’m not the first person to point out Clustertruck is essentially “the floor is lava” but with trucks as the only things you could stand on, and I won’t be the last. This is because that’s exactly what the premise is like. You hop across rows and columns of trucks in order to reach the end of each level. Layouts obviously differ from one another in every level, but the idea is always the same. However, the challenge comes from the physics engine. Since the trucks are constantly moving, you have to take into account how they move and how you will move. Inevitably, trial and error plays some sort of role in this, but it’s not like the kind that I find bothersome. If you die, a press of the A button is all you need to instantly respawn, and the levels usually aren’t long.
You could also purchase powers with in-game currency. These could be used to either manipulate the trucks slightly to your liking or enhance your jumping abilities if a single jump isn’t enough to be precise with. I personally like using the double jump and temporary time stops that keep the trucks from moving for a few seconds.
That’s not to say there aren’t any frustrating moments. The final level is a total ball-buster, and ones with hazards like lasers could get annoying if you keep underestimating your character’s hitbox. One thing I thought should have been a feature is the ability to use gyro controls; just like with ChromaGun, using the right analog stick to aim doesn’t work nearly as well as using a computer mouse, and this can make some jumps a bigger issue than they should have been. Not a deal-breaker, but I find it odd this wasn’t considered even after a patch fixed a game-breaking bug.
Nevertheless, Clustertruck is a good pick-up-and-play sort of game. It’s not for the easily irritated, but there’s a lot to like about its simple yet effective formula. It can be quite addictive at times, especially when you’re trying to blaze through the levels as quickly as possible by taking advantage of the engine.
Review key provided by TinyBuild