[Review] Clustertruck - Nintendo Switch
Clustertruck for Nintendo Switch is the latest release from publisher tiny build, and unsurprisingly, it is a very unique game. After having played The Final Station (The Final Station for Nintendo Switch at Miketendo 64), an now Clustertruck, I'm convinced that tiny build is on a mission to release as many niche and original style games as possible. As a result, I'm really looking forward to their future releases.
Clustertruck is hard to categorize, but I think that it's best to describe it as an action physics based puzzle platformer. Your goal is to navigate a series of speeding trucks from the start to the finish line while avoiding dropping to the ground. The premise is absolutely absurd, and the execution is amazing. You have a limited set of skills at your disposal, at first- you can sprint, jump, and little else. The key to success can be achieved through two different styles of play. You can choose to sprint and jump from one truck to the other, using the momentum you gain from successfully bouncing from one target to the next in the hopes of not getting caught up in the collision or clearing a large enough expanse to jump past the finish. Or, you can carefully plan your route through the chaos by jumping from one truck to the next, carefully observing the truck's patterns and making a better decision on your next run if you fail. I generally preferred the former approach, as it got my adrenaline pumping, and led to a lot of intense moments where I wasn't sure if my leaps of faith were going to pay off, or if I would just end up crushed under the motorized melee.
The physics are a little floaty at first, and it takes a bit of adaptation to time your jumps right and get your bank shots just right, but it is rather rewarding when you hit that rolling truck just right to send you just far enough to land and immediately bounce off of the next truck as it collides with another.
You can also use this reckless approach to hone your skills while taking the careful planning route, and it is best to try to master both styles of play to overcome the more difficult courses.
Clustertruck rewards you style points for riskier moves and close call successes. As you progress through the game, you'll be able to use those points to unlock more and more means of creatively making your way through the puzzles. The old reliable double jump, a grappling hook, and jetpack can greatly reduce your rate of failure, but never make the game too easy. While you're bounding around, you can also pan the camera around to get a better look at your surroundings, but this more often than not made me a little motion sick or resulted in more falls since I couldn't properly reorient the camera in time to get my bearings. Of course, that is definitely a case of varied mileage for everyone, so I can't really hold it against the game that I had a poor experience with that very useful feature.
In addition to the main game, Clustertruck offers some expansion packs in the form of holiday-themed courses that make it a little more interesting. Unfortunately, the winter themed levels became exceedingly difficult due to the white trucks running over a field of white snow. In other versions of the game, we are graced with a level editor that allows you to make your own levels and share them with others. I haven't yet taken the opportunity to try this out on PC, but it would have been a welcome addition...maybe in a future update? Oddly enough, something missing from the game compared to other versions is an online leaderboards, which seems like a strange thing to leave out.
Overall, however, Clustertruck is an amazongly deep experience that never plays out exactly the same due to it's real time physics, and the 90 levels of reverse-Frogger challenges make for an incredibly valuable purchase.