The aptly named Clustertruck by Landfall Games is a 3D physics platformer where you have to navigate dangerous levels while only being able to touch the plentiful white trucks. It sounds simple and, as a concept, it is but the developers have taken that simplicity and polished it to a mirror finish.
Clustertruck starts off simple by explaining the controls while presenting a straight line of trucks for the player to jump along. Before you know it you’re having to avoid swinging hammers, lasers, launch pads, falling crucifixes, and missiles. You will fail repeatedly because you only barely mis-timed a jump, and before you can even finish your scream you’ll restart and try again. It’s masocore design at its best. Every fall, every death, is your own fault.
Masocore refers to games where the player has to be slightly masochistic to enjoy playing. Games that you will fail at time and time again. Perhaps the closest example is Super Meat Boy where after each death you can immediately try again. Like Super Meat Boy, responsive controls are the most important factor for Clustertruck’s success. Controls , both controller and mouse and keyboard, are intuitive and the levels teach each new skill in a textbook example of good tutorial design.
However, if you aren’t great at platforming or want to play games for fun (weirdo) then you can make life a little easier by using items. The grappling hook, for example, lets you grab a truck and be pulled on top of it. There’s also the power to levitate and to slow time, if you really can’t handle the games ferocious pace and difficulty.
If you are great at platforming and want to play competitively, you’ll be pleased to know that Clustertruck has a large online community and global leaderboard. These are apparently subject to some scrutiny, however, as some speed-runners have logged near impossible times using cheeky workarounds.
Streamers will be glad to hear that Clustertruck has some devious twitch integration built-in that allows viewers to vote on level modifiers that can make trucks thinner, cause earthquakes, and lower the gravity – as if things needed to be even more difficult.
The soundtrack deserves some dissection of its own. Normally, for any game involving travelling as fast as you can while avoiding explosions, flamethrowers, and spike plates you’d expect fast music. Clustertruck, however,is not just about going fast, it requires precision and sometimes patience. While the music can be heavy and fast, it never forces you to go with it. The beat doesn’t drag you in and force ill-timed jumps – plus, it’s just a bloody great soundtrack!
A simple design and clean textures makes Clustertruck easy to navigate, and to differentiate at a split second notice what is and isn’t a nice, safe truck. This simplicity is a real boon for gamers on lower-powered hardware, which should, theoretically, be able to keep pace with the action.
Creative types can dive into the game’s comprehensive editor and make their own levels. The tutorial and help sheet for this are very detailed and allow for a lot of freedom with designs, even allowing for a complete change of pace and letting the player touch the ground for a more traditional platforming experience.
With 90 levels in the campaign mode, additional holiday worlds, and Steam workshop providing theoretically infinite levels. Clustertruck is definitely worth a spin.
Plus who wouldn’t love a company that does this to streamers?