First things first, the name is the single most accurate way to describe this game. Clustertruck is an indie platformer developed by Landfall Games and published by tinyBuild. The latter of which have been making waves in the indie scene as of late with numerous releases per year for the past two. Landfall is best known for developing Clustertruck which launched in 2016, it has since been released on the Nintendo Switch like most games nowadays much to the joy of gamers everywhere.
The aim of the game is simple, hop from the top of one truck to another in succession with the end goal of reaching the finish line. There is just one snag, the trucks are in motion and they are very disorganised, leading to a sea of vehicular wreckage. With no story, it’s almost like they want you to just make one up, so in my version of the game I’m a junkie with an appetite for death and the need to get that sweet adrenaline rush of running fast and jumping high. Honestly, no narrative benefits the entire experience.
It is stupidly compelling for what it is, but that’s the beauty of it, sometimes it’s the most basic gameplay grind that keeps you hooked, which is the case with this. The floor is lava and failing to stay atop the trucks will force you to restart the level, hitting the floor or other objects mean mission reset. What I find different about this type of grind compared to other similar games is that when I fail, I am not as prone to getting agitated. Don’t get me wrong, after enough time of failing constantly, I will decide that enough is enough and put the game down, but it takes longer for me to get there.
Something that has been a thorn in my side is the procedurally generated aspect of how trucks react to the terrain and other objects. They don’t always follow the same path and upon collision many different things can potentially happen. This ends up with some missions being absurdly luck-based, you of course still need the skill, but I would argue luck of the draw is more important. Not a fan of that, especially after spending an hour or so on just one level.
Abilities are available to acquire with style points to help alleviate some of the difficulty that comes with the later levels. The points are obtained by doing more badass things in each mission like keeping to the air as much as possible and going from truck to truck very quickly etc. You get rewarded for being better, which makes sense and then allows you to further yourself. The abilities are split into two sections, movement and utility, and you can equip one in each. This is a smart system that allows you to try out various combinations to find out which one’s are right for you or what is best for the situation.
Aside from the campaign worlds, there is also two seasonal themed worlds for Halloween and Holidays which provide even more content and perhaps more importantly, variety in content, at least in terms of aesthetics and designs.
One of the most troll worthy and best level designs I have seen in a game, come from this. In the Halloween missions, number 2 to be exact. You have a straight path for a small section and then just a complete drop. I had no idea what to do, couldn’t see the finish and I was beginning to think this was literally a level to troll players. After a good few minutes of dying, I spawned and just turned behind me straight way and saw a finish line down below and behind a fence. The developers had only gone and put a track underneath the starting track and stitched me right up. Kudos Landfall.
It’s a smooth looking game that makes use of colour more than fine detail, producing great results. The clean and polished look is right at home for what type of game it is and even helps in inducing happiness whereas in other games you would be getting annoyed at dying, because it’s pleasant to look at it almost subconsciously soothes you.
Assisting the visuals in creating this fun experience is the sound design that is fast-paced, upbeat and nice to listen to. The sound effects are great, landing on a truck only to hear a satisfying clunk is a cool inclusion and it is perhaps the most important piece of sound design. You will hear it consistently throughout your entire playtime so it’s certainly vital that the sound be to one’s liking.
What Landfall have created here is an addicting and pleasant game that gets its hooks in you and really digs them in. All aspects just beam this sense of joy, be it the gameplay, visual design or audio design. It has plenty of varied content to get lost in and is just one big absolute CLUSTER… TRUCK!
OVERALL: 8.5/10 – GREAT
Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Clustertruck, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)