Sunday, April 22, 2018

Clustertruck (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) Review

The back half of April is all reviews, a continuation of SuperPhillip Central's recent posting behavior. We turn to trucks for our first review of the month, a game called Clustertruck, to be precise. This review is based off of the Nintendo Switch port, but the game is also available on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Hitching a wild ride.

Clustertruck is a game where the rules are basically like that game kids played when they were young, where the floor was lava and touching it meant you lost. Take that concept and expand it by instead of jumping from the couch to the recliner, you're leaping from the back of semi truck to semi truck. Oh, and unlike a couch and recliner, the semi trucks are in full motion.

The goal of each of the game's levels is to get from the starting point to the goal by catching rides on the top of trucks while carefully avoiding obstacles like the ground, fences and other obstructions. Touching one of these means you fail the level and must start over from the beginning again. Thankfully, restarting levels is as simple as a press of a button, instantly putting you back into the game for another attempt.

Speedy creatures, the 18-wheelers dart across the savanna, giving chase to its prey. 
Clustertruck is a first-person jumper, so it's not always easy to tell where you're standing thanks to the perspective used. This can lead to some unexpected fails in your runs, and it's something to get used to as failure is everything but rare in Clustertruck. While failed runs didn't usually pop up from the first-person perspective sometimes causing me to misjudge the angle or timing of jumps, what did was something that is based off Clustertruck's algorithm regarding its namesake cluster of trucks. Sometimes, you'll be faced with a situation in a level where there simply isn't a way to complete the level due to how the trucks behave. They can crash into each other and create a kink in traffic, making it so it's impossible to reach the goal as there are no trucks to leap onto. This randomness can be annoying when you're nearing the goal of a level only to run out of trucks to hop on to sail your way to the finish line. A scenario like this doesn't happen often, but it does occur more than I would have liked during my time with the game.

No wonder my mail's always late if this is how the delivery trucks drive!
There are a total of nine themed worlds, each with their own unique obstacles and locales, devised up of ten levels apiece. In addition to that, a handful of bonus levels are included which have other themes to them as well. One world will have you leaping across the backs of 18-wheelers through the frozen tundra while another will place you within a rotating laser field of death and destruction.

As levels are completed, you earn points based on your performance. You get bonus points for actions like jumping over trucks completely, extended aerial movement and so forth. These points can then be used to purchase upgrades, which only one can be equipped at a time. For the most part, I found that one of the earliest upgrades I could unlock, the double jump, eventually allowed me enough precision to complete most of the levels in Clustertruck without needing anything else. That isn't to say the option to freeze a truck mid-movement or utilizing a grappling hook aren't helpful occasionally, however. The occasions where those are necessary to use don't happen all that often, is all.

Clustertruck is a simple-looking game using flat shaded polygons for the most part, but the art style lends well to not being a distraction to the gameplay. You can pretty much always see where you need to be heading, and seldom does an obstacle pop up out of nowhere because you couldn't see it. The game also runs rather steady in the frame-rate department, which is a good thing, as it'd be quite disastrous to have lag when you're trying to aim and land tricky jumps upon moving targets. Overall, Clustertruck provides players with a decent package when it concerns presentation.

This futuristic locale is one of the later worlds in Clustertruck.
If idea of the phrase "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" doesn't bother you (because you will fail levels a lot and have to try levels over and over, again and again), then Clustertruck might just be a rewarding game for you to try out. When you finally reach the goal on a level you've been struggling the past fifteen minutes on, it's an awesome feeling, and a perfect run through a given level gives off such a great dose of adrenaline through the veins. While the frustration factor of Clustertruck can be high at times (don't play this game around the young'ins, as you might end up cursing like a sailor when you narrowly fail a level after the twentieth attempt), the game ends up being one of a nice quality. Just don't try this stuff at home, kids.

[SPC Says: B-]

Review code provided by Tinybuild.

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