Freeware Patrol- Cluster

Cluster is a quick and simple game.  You’ve got two controls to do three actions and three types of obstacles to worry about.  The left and right triggers (or bumpers, if you change them in the Unity front-end to save hand-cramps) turn your ship in the appropriate direction.  Hold both down and you dash.  Regular colored blocks can be broken by dashing through them, flashing blocks are death no matter what.  You’re always moving, albeit slowly if you aren’t holding down the dash, but the flashing wall o’ doom is on your butt ready to obliterate your single life.  Fly up the screen at full tilt, crash through blocks while avoiding the flashing ones, die, repeat.

My first impression was “This is too simple to be much good” but then I noticed that I kept hitting Restart without even thinking about it.  Each block is a single point, and every twenty points you advance a level.  It wasn’t the need to top a high score that kept pulling me back but a combination of disdain for the low scores I’d been earning and curiosity as to what happens at level 6.  There are locked options, after all,  and while it seemed likely that the next difficulty level was just more flashing death-cubes to avoid, it’s only 100 points to find out so I might as well take a look.  The ensuing process went something like- die, retry, die, retry, rage-quit, make unfounded accusations about the developers’ parentage, repeat.  And then I got to see that the next difficulty level was nowhere near as simple as I’d assumed and the developers are properly evil.

Cluster is a simple game, but it’s from the same school of game design as Super Hexagon.  Simple controls, killer music, solid blocks of color, crunchy sound effects, fast arcade action, and an instant restart all combine to make a tricky but highly replayable game that’s easily greater than the sum of its minimalist parts.  Cluster is available free over on, either in-browser or as a Win/Mac/Linux Unity download, and if you’ve got a good-sized pile of swearing you’ve been saving up for a snowy day it will happily absorb all the abuse you’ve got and dare you to continue just one more time.