[Disclaimer: I received a copy of Clustertruck courtesy of the developers through the Clustertruck sub-reddit, reddit.com/r/highwayfightsquad. Everything that I have to say here are my own words and are not at all influenced by either the developer or the fact that I was given a copy of the game free of charge. Additionally, I was not directed to say only positive things about the game, nor was I given talking points or specific things to say about Clustertruck in my review.]
Clustertruck is a game that I have been following for a while, and one that I had previously wanted to talk about sometime after the alpha was released earlier in the year, but I became forgetful and never finished or published that article. It has been an interesting and exciting year and-a-half (I think) watching the developer/creator/director Wilnyl take this from a concept to a fully fledged game that was released this last Tuesday (9/27/2016) on Steam. I did play through the alpha build a bit, but only as far as I was able to get, due to my lack of skill in the truck jumping arena.
For those of y'all who are new to Clustertruck, I would highly recommend watching the trailer below, as the pictures I took will not do the game justice at all. It is a game about jumping on the back of Mack Truck type trucks towards a goal, without touching the ground as they drive across varied landscapes which become more and more ridiculous.
|So what if I took 20.005 seconds longer than the #1 ranked person!|
This is what Clustertruck is. Basically. I will also mention that while this game is a whole Hel of a lot of fun, it is equally frustrating in the same way that a hard level in BIT.TRIP RUNNER is fun yet frustrating. The never ending soundtrack (with the song only changing for each stage) definitely helps with the frequent restarts of the levels. Sometimes while watching people go through levels, I will begin to doubt my own video game playing abilities and whether I should just throw in the proverbial towel, or if I should just keep at it and hope for the best. I should probably have also mentioned that Clustertruck is a speedrunner's wet dream. The faster you make it across the trucks, the higher of a score you will receive and you will be ranked higher on the leaderboards for all to see, or not see in my case (in one level this morning, I was ranked around 25,000). I am not entirely sure how the "score" though in the picture is calculated as I did receive points, but maybe it's additional points beyond what you would get for normally finishing the level? Like points above par?
So Clustertruck is broken up into nine stages made up of 10 levels with each stage having its own introduction to new gameplay elements, obstacles and environments. The first stage (Desert) did a great job of introducing different concepts that only become more complicated to deal with in the later stages/levels. There are a couple of stages so far that have felt that I hid a wall and took a lot more time to figure out than previous levels, 2-7 for instance, which I have attempted at least 20 times.
Yeah, this is what I am dealing with. In one attempt, two trucks exploded after careening off of heir wooden structure, something that had not happened before in many other attempts on this level. It was kind of surprising, but then wasn't when I forgot to jump (or double jump in my case, which is mentioned below)over that wooden barrier there in the distance.
There are also a number of abilities you can "equip" that can further help you, such as a double jump which is self explanitory, a hookshot that functions in a similar manner to Link's weapon from Ocarina of Time, a freeze ability that lets you freeze all trucks in their current place, and many more that I will not list here. What is awesome, is that these abilities you have to purchase using points you earn in the game. It actually reminds me of the cheats in Goldeneye 007 on the N64, that only after putting time into the game are you granted the ability to use "cheats."
Where I feel that I am most lacking, is my control. Watching videos and speenruns, it definitely seems like people have a lot more control over where they jump, and how they are able to launch themselves off of trucks towards the goal. I realize that a fair amount of the available videos have people using unlocked abilities, but overall, I feel like I am very spastic when it comes to how I play. I guess it just boils down to "getting gud."
Before I finish up here, I should also mention that the few times I have looked up at the fps (frames per second) counter, I am averaging between 28 - 36 fps, which some people will tell you is broken and unplayable, but I will tell you that that is not the case. Even though the game defaults to "Fantastic" graphics settings, I am quite happy with the game running as it is on my system (Windows 10, Intel i5 2.60GHz, 8GB RAM). I have not come across the game crashing or stuttering, so at least from my own experience, the game is stable.
Currently I have put 107 minutes in Clustertruck and I could see this being a fun game to show friends and have them attempt when they come over, similar to Super Meat Boy. It could be a fun party game, I just have to beat enough levels so I don't come across like a casual player (again, like in Super Meat Boy).
So in closing, I really like Clustertruck for how I play it. If I were into speedrunning and cared more about the leaderboards, I might enjoy it more, or I might hate it more since there is currently at least one person (Lamdin) cheating their way onto the #1 spot with a time of 0:00:000 for all of the levels between 1-1 and 2-7.
I have also failed to mention that there is a level editor included with the game and I have only briefly tooled around with. Like Super Mario Maker, I highly anticipate that there will be a slurry of nearly impossible levels added to the Steam Workshop in the coming days/weeks/months. That I am not so much looking forward to, but Wilnyl has already released one custom stage, so there is hope that not all of the levels will be clusterfucks. Which actually brings me to another point, that the developers are very active in the community and there have been a number of updates since the game was released three days ago.
Okay, that's it. If you are at all intrigued at anything I have had to say about Clustertruck, I highly recommend looking further into the game for yourself and then picking up a copy.
|Wanted to leave y'all with this screenshot of rock pillars collapsing on me with the goal in sight. I did make it out.|
P.S. I wanted to add that often while playing Clustertruck, I will find myself leaning while trying to land on a truck, lifting my feet off of the ground hoping for a higher jump. It reminds me a lot of playing Mario Kart and turning the controller (SNES, N64) hoping that somehow the game will understand that I need to make sharper turns and that by turning the controller will somehow allow me to achieve this maneuver. It's quite funny catching myself doing this and not realizing it.
P.P.S. Lastly, if you purchase Clustertruck, you will also receive a pre-alpha copy of Totally Accurate Battle Simulator (TABS), which comes across like the battle simulator that was used in the Lord of the Rings, but with rag doll physics and so much more hilarity. From what is currently available, TABS is a puzzle type game where you purchase troops with a limited income to go up against an attacking force, last figure standing wins. I will most definitely post an article sometime next month.