Clustertruck Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: tinyBuild

Publisher: tinyBuild

Release Date: March 15th 2018

Price as of Article: $14.99 USD, £13.49 GBP

Introduction

Contrary to what you may think the game may be just by looking at screenshots, no you’re not actually driving the trucks in Clustertruck. Instead, you are a person on the trucks, needing to jump between them and all the chaos they cause in order to reach the end goal.

Audio

The audio of Clustertruck is pretty good. It’s eccentric and upbeat, getting you ready for the challenge ahead. Each world has its own song so there are times when that song can become a little repetitive (especially if you’re failing a stage over and over) but because you’re so focused on the action you don’t really notice it too much. It’s pretty good overall and I found myself bobbing my head to it more than a few times. 

Visuals & Performance

clustertruck screenshot 2

 

Visually the game is bare and minimalistic, whether that’s a stylistic choice or something necessary to facilitate the rampant chaos caused by the physics and everything going on, I don’t know. I’m not sure if I like it to be honest. It’s not particularly appealing to the eye and may come across as unfinished to many people and I wouldn’t blame them. I guess the positive side of it all is that it keeps things clinically focused. You’re fully into the task at hand rather than being awestruck by some gorgeous visuals. Is that clutching at straws?

Sadly the performance isn’t perfect. The frame rate does drop on occasions if action gets too hectic, close up. It’s a shame as a simple looking game like this shouldn’t cause too many problems, but the Switch seems to struggle with all the moving parts going on at once. It didn’t ruin the experience or anything but it’s worth noting.

Gameplay

The premise of Clustertruck is to jump between a horde of rampaging trucks and make it safely to the end of the stage. It sounds simple enough but it is one heck of a challenge. You control your character with the left analogue stick and jump with the A button, that’s as simple as it begins. Once you complete the first world, however, you’re granted access to the shop at which point you can buy various abilities which can enhance your skills. You need to pay for these using the points you earn from the stages. 

There’s a surprising variety for such a simple game concept. You can have a double jump, a jet-pack and even a grappling hook. To be honest it is a bit overwhelming at first since you have access to all of them from the start, well, as long as you have enough points. There’s a brief description of each but I would have preferred a little bit of guidance as to which would be the better options to pick from the beginning. I blew all my points on a jet-pack (because who wouldn’t?) but I generally found it a bit useless. Secondly I bought the double jump and I found this to be way more useful, I wished I’d bought that first.

The whole game is built around a crazy physics engine. Hundreds of trucks tear across the landscape, they slam into each other and anything in their path. Some trucks get flung into the air, others seemingly blow up or congest into each other so much so that nothing can get through. Every time you play a level something is different. Trucks will behave in a similar way each time, but the results will always be slightly different, so in that regard they may be an err of luck to getting through some stages.

clustertruck switch screenshot

The difficulty is all over the place. Sure, there are levels you’ll be able to do in one shot, others could take dozens and dozens of times. One particular level, Stage 2-World 2 was a huge spike in the game’s difficulty for me. I lost count of how many times I had to try that one until I finally completed it. Oddly enough, the rest of the levels in that world didn’t challenge me at all and I completed most of them in one shot.

The further you get in the game, the more ridiculous and outrageous the situation becomes which is something I enjoyed. I never felt that a newer level was more boring than the previous one. By the time you’re well on your way in the game there’re some downright preposterous situations as you ride the wave of trucks flying in the air while avoiding all sorts of nonsense. It’s good fun but frustrating in equal measure. 

Value

Is ClusterTruck worth the £13.49 or $14.99? That’s a difficult one. It has its charm, thrill and hilarity which take it so far, but I don’t know if I would say it holds your attention enough to justify the price. Sure, there’s plenty of content and it’ll take you a while if you’re as bad at this game as I am, but at times it just feels like a one trick pony or a technical demonstration of a physics engine. If it was cheaper, sure why not, but at the starting price, I’m not sure.

Pros

P

Original Gameplay

P

Challenging

Cons

P

Visuals aren't great

P

Needs more variety