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Clustertruck is a cruel, brilliant joke of a game

Articulate.

After an hour of tumbling between cascading lorries, smashing against the delightfully improbable lunar physics of this impossible game, I think I'm done. I'm done cursing at every unreadable twist in each level, and I've had enough of twisting my controller tightly in my hands in pure frustration as its plastic audibly tweaks and I can feel its screws starting to strain free. Clustertruck is too hard, too painful and too frustrating for someone with my limited talents. I can't wait to watch others suffer, though.

Already a hit with YouTubers well before its full retail release on PC and PlayStation 4 this week, Clustertruck is built around a beautifully barmy idea: a stream of trucks courses from one end of a level to another, blindly crashing into each other as you run and jump atop each one to reach the goal. It's the ludicrous highway action scene of The Matrix Reloaded made more ludicrous still. Once you settle into its rhythm it's a riot, where Super Meat Boy's hard edges are reflected through Mirror's Edge's first-person free-running.

Clustertruck is a simple game, though it's not without its complexities. There are small cushions to be found within its stern challenge, little buffers that let you cling on to the back of truck before boosting yourself up should you slightly mistime a jump, or a brief wall-run that lets you skirt the sides of each ride. Scratch a little deeper and there are abilities to be unlocked through the scores you acquire in each level: grapple hooks, double-jumps and speed boosts that all help dull the brutal, blunt difficulty that meets you when you first start playing.

It's pretty secretive with its kinks, too. It was only some 30 minutes in that I realised there was a sprint button - one that allows you to spool up a more powerful jump that reaches that little bit further. Given how you've only ever a few paces to play with when running from truck to truck, it's something of a cruel joke, but that's Clustertruck to the core, really. It's a game designed to make you shout and swear, a joke you're often the butt of but one that's outrageously funny all the same.

It is gleefully, gloriously unfair. Clustertruck's levels, while brief, are often unpredictable - you're lost to the mindless clashing of traffic as it butts up against itself, a mad stream of lorries that buckles and buffets like an untamed river. Things explode, and often, leaving you to pick through the smoke and debris. It's the polar opposite of that other runaway truck success on Steam: whereas a session in Euro Truck Simulator is measured in long, peaceful hours that roll by, here it's all over in a few angry seconds.

Clustertruck is beautiful in its own way, and when it works - when you're hovering above a pile-up, or bounding between airborne trucks as they soar over a chasm - it gives you a Hollywood thrill with its limited means. It's just that I'm frequently awful at it (I've only managed to break the top 10,000 on any given level's leaderboard a handful of times), and right now I'm happy to resign myself to watching other players in their efforts to scale the heights of Clustertruck's challenge. Slapstick is much funnier, after all, when you're not the one who's face-planting.

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Martin Robinson avatar

Martin Robinson

Editor-in-chief

Martin is Eurogamer's editor-in-chief. He has a Gradius 2 arcade board and likes to play racing games with special boots and gloves on.

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