I jumped, aiming for one of the semi trucks careening down the road. Slamming into the back of it, my character barely clung on. I jumped again and catapulted high into the air. "That was originally kind of a bug," Publisher Tiny Build CEO Alex Nichiporchik told me. "Now it's an actual feature."
That's pretty indicative of the entirety of Clustertruck. From the title to the ways it tries to stop your progress, Clustertruck is hilarious. It's the result of a developer embracing the chaos of game physics. It's a first-person platformer of sorts, and your goal is to jump from one semi truck to another to the finish line. But the trucks are horrible at driving and every level has some environmental trick that tries to kill you.
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During one level, I got into a rhythm, jumping deftly while trucks exploded around me. It felt like an action movie as fire consumed the trucks to the sides and the vehicles in front crashed chaotically into each other. Navigating the labyrinth of flying trailers and wheels, my character hopped, flew, and catapulted forward, often passing completely over throngs of trucks. And then a trailer, soaring through the air at a very high speed, crashed into me. Three more followed it. A set of cannons toward the end of the level was shooting trucks at me.
Another level turned the game into a Superhot lookalike, complete with a narrator declaring "Super Truck!" when I began to play. Time even slowed to a crawl when I stood still, the same way it does in Superhot. Clustertruck's developers had actually worked with Superhot's team to implement this as an April Fool's joke, and it went over so well with players that several Superhot-inspired levels will be in the final Clustertruck release.
Every level felt distinct, and although I failed--a lot--retries never felt frustrating, partly because restarts are instantaneous in the game. Due to the fact that all the destruction is physics-based, it's also unpredictable, meaning that success comes from being able to respond to chaos, rather than attempting to predict it.
It helps, too, that jumping and running across trucks feels so good. Although controls are a little finicky on a controller, and a mouse and keyboard are recommended, the sense of speed and control that you have while playing enhances the feeling of being acrobatic and skillful. If you couldn't jump ridiculously far, skate along the side of trucks, or catapult yourself off the back of them, then the game wouldn't be nearly entertaining. As it is, though, Clustertruck provides the opportunity for some truly incredible moments.
And I haven't even mentioned the selection of modifiers and abilities that you can flip on to make the experience even wilder. In my demo, I only played with the slow time and dash abilities, but there will be several others in the final game to choose from. For example, you will be able to use a gun that shoots trucks. The developer actually intended this gun to be useless in achieving the goal, but ended up being game-breaking when coupled with the grappling hook ability. The studio decided to leave it in anyways.
I didn't get to play Clustertruck for long, but the time I spent with it was filled with laughter, yelling, and cheering as my coworkers and I attempted, and usually failed, to complete levels. It's a ridiculous game that manages to make it feel good to jump from truck to truck as they crash into each other. I can't wait to get back into Clustertruck when it arrives later this year on PC and PS4.
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