The long overdue reboot to Mirror’s Edge was finally released earlier this year. Unfortunately, it didn’t hold my attention for long. It’s an okay game, but it lacked what made the original so special back in 2008. I blame the open world design. By removing the linear platforming, there was no need for tightly choreographed movement. Worst of all, the choice of branching paths meant there was no need to think on the fly which slowed the gameplay to a crawl. Luckily Landfall Games were there to rescue the parkour genre by taking the reins and steering me towards the absurdity of a little game about murderous trucks.
Clustertruck is a first person free-running platformer where you channel your inner action hero by running, jumping and navigating the rooftops of suicidal semis while attempting to reach the goal. Convoys of identical trucks speed through the linear environments colliding with each other and obstacles in their path, those that make it through eventually launch off a cliff to their impending doom. You need to keep moving through the carnage, using the trucks as platforms before they’re gone. If you touch an obstacle or the ground you’re dead.
There’s no story to Clustertruck. The game is made up of a series of speed runs that you can replay to improve times and duke it out on the online leaderboards until your heart’s content. There is certainly plenty of content to keep you engaged. 100 speed runs set across ten themed hub worlds divide the gameplay. Each level only takes around 30 seconds to complete, but they can be challenging. You might complete some first go others could take dozens of attempts before you reach the goal.
Each of the themed worlds introduces new obstacles that shake up the core platforming. The cold world features trucks sliding on ice, the medieval world catapults trucks at you. The sci-fi world has killer lasers, the forest world has truck avalanches, and hell introduces lava. Each world brings its own challenges that keep things feeling fresh. The trucks are always driving in different formations. Sometimes they drive directly towards your goal, other times they drive in the opposite direction. Sometimes they cross paths like the lanes of traffic in Frogger. Sometimes they are frozen in place. There’s always order to the trucks at the beginning of each level, but this quickly erupts into madness. It’s incredibly satisfying when dozens of trucks collide and you are skilled or lucky enough to speed through the carnage. It’s usually the latter.
Early on you gain access to a list of abilities that can be purchased using your score points as currency. Things like double jump, slow time, grappling hook and air boost can ease the incredibly challenging later levels. There are loads to choose from, and you can have two equipped at a time. I kept returning to double jump, and slow time so I could launch massive distances and easily time my landing on the trucks. Fans of SUPERHOT will be glad to know there’s a modifier called SUPERTRUCK which paints all the trucks red and just like the FPS that inspired it, the trucks only move when you do.
If you are looking for more content once you have completed the campaign, you can create your own levels in Editor Mode. It can be quite technical. Thankfully a tutorial is there to help you through. I was more interested in playing the custom maps that had been uploaded by other gamers. I was always impressed by the ingenuity of the fans. There’s also Twitch integration which pits you in randomly selected levels, and viewers can vote for modifiers to be used. If there are no votes, the game will automatically choose the modifiers for you.
The soundtrack is both a perfect fit and highly enjoyable. It’s mostly upbeat electro sounds that suit the speed of the gameplay and the silliness of what’s happening on screen. The 13 tracks are available to purchase on Steam as DLC. I’m holding out in the hope of the soundtrack being released on vinyl.
I encountered one small technical issue when Steam Achievements popped. The notifications wouldn’t disappear. Instead, they would blur into the background. I didn’t have any problems with the gameplay, but some gamers may question why anyone thinks first person platforming is a good idea. It can be frustrating jumping without having the time to look down before you land. On the plus side, when you die you instantly respawn with no load times.
Overall Clustertruck is a must for fans of first person games who are looking for something different or anyone with a competitive streak. Clustertruck is not a perfect game, but it has enough originality and absurdity to turn heads. And once you’re in I guarantee you won’t put it down for hours. I fully intend on returning to Mirror’s Edge Catalyst in the future, but it won’t be anytime soon. I have something better to play. Clustertruck is available now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. I reviewed the PC version.
Michael Vane is a freelance journalist and co-editor of PN2. He’s on Twitter @DrVane