There comes a point when you look back and wonder what the hell you’ve just been doing all this time. That point is currently a few minutes after jumping across yet another mad convoy of crashing trucks that have left me jumping face first into a cliff face for the hundredth time. This is the very essence of Clustertruck.
The Switch release of this game comes over a year after it appeared on other consoles, but it’s no less welcome, there’s nothing really like it on Nintendo’s platform. The amount of ways you can completely mess up in any single level is infinite, even inches away from the goal line.
It’s a simple task you’re asked to do; jump over trucks to reach the finish without touching the floor, faceplanting into the nearest immovable object or generally getting killed in hundreds of interesting ways. Unfortunately, these trucks in question love to smash into each other and seem to be driven by drivers who are not only falling asleep at the wheel but also on their mobiles and drinking at the same time. Pepper in a few lasers, rotating beams, hammers and some environmental obstacles and you’ve got a real mess of vehicles to clamber over, all while coping with the physics of a moonwalk gone wrong.
At first it’s just you against trucks with just a dash and jump button to help you across. Doing well unlocks points to spend on items that should help you as later levels ramp up the difficulty. Jetpacks, grappling hooks and airtime can all aid (or equally hinder) your progress against ever increasing odds thanks to some pretty wild level design.
A good example of how mad Clustertrucks level design gets is with one level that starts off pretty tame until you turn a corner and see another set of trucks coming at you in what can only be described as a waterfall of metal. With good timing, you can get some huge airtime by leaping over the oncoming tsunami of vehicles but it’s a task and a half to then land back on a truck going in the right direction.
Graphically, the game prefers a simple, paired back approach with lots of obvious polygons. It’s Superhot with vehicles and open air scenery and it works well for the game. There are a few different environments to unlock, though they don’t vary greatly in anything other than colour scheme and the odd obstacle. The trucks are the stars here, though, frantically bounding over one another to get to their destination, even if said destination is a brick wall or ravine.
It’s also a game that requires plenty of replay to pass later levels. It has the difficulty of a twitch game but not much in the way of subtlety. You either make it or die in hilariously painful ways. Thankfully, it’s inventive and entertaining enough to make you want to pick yourself up and start all over again.
Clustertruck is a great game to play alone, stream or have people spectating and laughing over your shoulder. It’s not big and it’s not clever but it is frustratingly hilarious.