Not to generalize too much, but I find that indie games tend to excel when they pick a concept and really hone it to a fine edge. Indie twin-stick shooters are often amazing, for instance, and indies tend to make the best platformers as well. When an indie project becomes too expansive it might go off the rails a little, as we saw with No Man’s Sky, but when one idea is taken to its limits then magic can happen. That’s exactly what we’ve got with ClusterTruck.
ClusterTruck is basically an entire game built around a single cool scene from an action movie: you’ve got a highway full of semis and your job is to jump between them to reach the stage’s goal. The specifics of how this works can vary a little; in particular, the highway in question is rarely an actual highway, and as you progress through the game you end up on some pretty bizarre and crazy levels, loosely arranged into themes like lasers and medieval castles
What remains the same throughout all of them is that if you touch anything that isn’t a truck, you’ve failed the level and have to start over. This includes the ground, anything in the environment and any deadly lasers that happen to show up; fortunately you have a little leeway when it comes to reaching the next truck, such as a spring jump that can be activated by just barely grabbing the back edge of the vehicle you’re aiming for.
While ClusterTruck’s early levels are all about learning to hop between trucks without falling to the ground, later on the game becomes a complex dance where you have to mix truck-hopping with dodging obstacles and projectiles. One of my favorite levels combined several “highways” stacked on top of one another so you’d have to make leaps of faith down to a new set of trucks every so often.
You don’t have to go it alone, of course…well, you kind of do, but you’ve got upgrades to help! These range from your basic double jump and air dash to a grappling hook. You can also obtain active skills that modify how the game works, like the ability to play the game in stop-motion a la SUPERHOT or simply freeze the trucks to make your jumps easier. You don’t have to use any upgrades to proceed through the game, but they add a little spice.
Reinforcing that you don’t have to go it alone, except that you totally do, is the game’s Twitch integration! This is becoming more standard in facecam-bait games like this; basically if you’re a streaming superstar you can activate integration, allowing viewers to vote on mods to the game as you play. These include things like sticking lasers on the trucks or changing their size. It’s a neat touch that doesn’t overshadow the entire game; we’ve seen that happen in titles like #KILLALLZOMBIES and it’s never pretty, but ClusterTruck is still a great choice even if you aren’t gunning to be the next PewDiePie.
That’s really the highest praise one can give the game! ClusterTruck is fun to watch, but more importantly it’s fun to play. Taking a single ridiculous idea and going all the way with it proves to be a winning formula yet again. If you’ve ever wanted to be some kind of acrobatic truck-jumping ninja, well, you’re kind of weird, but your game is finally here.