Is ‘Clustertruck’ Worth Buying? ($15)

Clustertruck [official site] is a parkour speedrun truck-jumping game with a floor-is-lava twist. Is it worth buying?

If you are lucky enough to have had an even remotely decent childhood, chances are you have played a game where you act as though the floor is a fiery pit of lava. The rules of the game are simple, and all kids, no matter their race, colour or creed, have an innate, almost spooky inner knowing of them. You jump from one piece of furniture to the next, and you must not, under any circumstance, fall off, or else you will end up on the carpet in the deadly lava, resulting in your ultimate doom.

Clustertruck is similar in a way, with the basic fundamentals much like that of the old game that those of us not living under a rock know and used to love, except the pieces of furniture are moving and they are now trucks driven by drunks. Of course they are.

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Lasers! Lasers everywhere!

The entire game is pretty much that. You jump from truck to truck in minimalist graphics and well designed but sometimes – actually a lot of the time – annoying but great levels. It’s fun.

Chaos and destruction, including trucks driving off the edge to their impending explosive deaths, are a normal sight in Clustertruck, and it’s absolutely spectacular. It’s not so spectacular when you’re relying on that truck making it to the end of the level, though, which happens quite often. Almost all of the game consists of evading obstacles that can make the truck below you blow up, for instance swinging hammers, flamethrowers, walls, bits of the floor getting pushed up, and other trucks.

The game movement is slippery and somewhat difficult to get used to. After over seven hours of playing the game, I’m still struggling. That’s not a downside though, it adds to the challenge and makes it more fun. There are also a few movement-based bugs (are they bugs? I can’t figure out whether they were intended), such as launching myself up off the tailgate of a truck and flinging across the levels, and using the grapple hook ability to just ignore the map and Spiderman over completely.

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Drunk truck pile-up.

Spanned across nine worlds, the 90 official Clustertruck levels are a great enjoyment, especially when you’ve just aced one in one try. There is also Steam Workshop support, so as well as the official levels, you can subscribe to and download a bunch more, hand crafted by the community in the game’s level editor. Although there are only a few very good Workshop levels, it’s still pretty cool to see what creations others have brewed up.

It took me around four hours to finish all the Landfall-made levels, so I decided to try the community levels and that took up another few hours of my time.

At first glance, Clustertruck’s custom level editor looked complicated to me, but shortly after digging in and building a couple of terrible levels, I soon got the hang of it. Placing buildings, roads and dangerous traps and making trucks drive in their own paths is reasonably easy, and if I got stuck, I’d just use the relatively long and detailed help sheet.

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A cool player-built custom map titled ‘WipeOut V2!’

Clustertruck has an unlockable ability system where you can use in-game points that you accumulate through playing and completing the game’s levels to purchase numerous different powers including jetpacks, slow motion, grapple hooks and levitation. This, for me, takes away the feel of the game I had hoped for, and although it’s another feature (and features are good), I would have suggested that they just scratch that idea and build the game with the initial raw, truck jumping feeling.

The game’s AI paths vary ever so slightly from game to game; sometimes you can ride a truck to the end, sometimes it’ll veer off causing a major crash, resulting in the deaths of both you and fifteen truck drivers. This is great as it adds a certain amount of randomness, but it can also be level-breaking, like all of the trucks crashing, leaving the level impossible to finish.

Oh, and Landfall loves to mess with people.

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Clustertruck’s final level, a boss battle.

When I first heard about Clustertruck I was skeptical, and to a degree I still am, because I think the concept is great, but I’m not quite sure whether it’s big enough to deserve its own title.

I’m torn this time because of that. I would recommend buying it when it goes on special, but if you think you would enjoy it and wish to purchase it at its current US$15, then there’s nothing inside me that would try to convince you otherwise. It’s considerably short but it’s still brilliant fun, and for that reason I will have to say:

👍 Clustertruck IS worth the US$15 it is available for.