Have You Played… Clustertruck?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Clustertruck [official site] is a first-person platformer about leaping across the tops of a pack of moving trucks, like the most ridiculously overblown movie action sequence. But it didn’t live up to its premise, for me.

The concept is great. Each track starts with dozens of trucks, each driving without regard for their own safety, jostling and crashing below you while attempting to traverse courses littered with hills, falling boulders and dangerous jumps. Not all of the trucks make it to the finish line, as they crash, get stuck, and the number of safe platforms for you to land on dwindles.

The problem for me is that the physics-y nature of the driving means the position of trucks is unpredictable, and when you as the player are in the air, there’s not enough control over your trajectory to compensate for the truck you were aiming for suddenly veering away. Plus, your jump itself is unpredictable, as the jostle of a truck beneath you at the moment of your jump might send you into the air with unexpected height or speed.

As you advance through different levels and worlds, you unlock special abilities, many of which help you compensate for this unpredictability. But I wasn’t having fun with the game’s core and at that point I’d grown frustrated.

4 Comments

  1. JakeOfRavenclaw says:

    I found that the slo-mo/dash abilities compensated for the unpredictable physics enough to make things quite enjoyable. But it is a bit uneven, for me at least: the levels where you just have to navigate massive amounts of trucks getting thrown around the level by various hazards were sublime, but the ones that relied on obstacle-based platforming challenges were a lot more frustrating. It works best when it’s embracing the comedy inherent in wacky video game physics, I think.

    Also the final boss (yes, there’s a final boss) was just ridiculously difficult.

  2. Baines says:

    It isn’t the unpredictable physics. The problems are with the core design of the game, that it involves the player being forced to use overly long and floaty jumps to rapidly traverse moving platform while stuck with a poor first person view that gives insufficient positional awareness. All the unpredictable physics do is prevent the player from “overcoming” the bad design by finding repeatable solutions through sheer trial and error.

    Move the game to a third person view, and it would be much more playable. Change the game to use a shorter jump (which would require trucks be closer), and it might be more playable. Move the game to a VR system that allows the player to quickly and accurately look around) and it might be more playable.

  3. poliovaccine says:

    Yes!! I adore this game. It isnt one I play in long sessions, so I’ve never been very far into it, but it’s a perfect little selection for when I just want some fast paced silliness to blow off some steam for 30 minutes. The only FPSes/shooters I have are actually kinda stealthy and slow and involved, so for those short bursts of getting the ya ya’s out, I like simple but fast paced little games like this.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>