Game review: Slipstream (Steam)

Title Slipstream
Platform: Steam / Windows
Available on OS: Windows/Mac/Linux
Genre:Racing, retro, arcade
Game number: 2 of 1005 steam games (< 1%)

Summary review:
Graphics: I like the Outrun retro pastiche and performance is excellent: 5/5
Music: I really love the sounds track and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it: 5/5
Controls: Best with an actual gamepad, no complaints: 4/5
Replayability: Only way to start winning races is to replay over and over until the tracks are memorized. And hitting the drifts wasn’t always consistent for me. 2/5
Total score: 60 / 100 – great homage to games like outrun but ultimately not worth committing the time to it in order to get ace all the race modes. There are much better Outrun-likes out there on Steam etc.

If I had to guess on this game I would say the developer was definitively going for an Outrun vibe. It seems rather obvious from the behind-the-car camera view and the design of courses.

It’s been a while since I’ve played Outrun but that game had a lot of emphasis on making turns and trying not to run into obstacles to while getting to the next checkpoint to extend the time.

Slipstream does the same thing with a few notable exceptions: first and foremost you must drift around every corner very consistently. If you don’t drift the AI racers will immediately leave you in the dust never to be seen again, even on the easiest difficulty. And secondly there is a “slipstream” method of gaining speed: lodging yourself behind another car to catch the wind thus speeding you up.

Now it could very well be I’m missing something but the actual slipstreaming actually doesn’t seem to do me any good: the cars either pull away so quick i hardly pick up any speed or I pick up so much speed I go flying past that car and usually crash into something.

Drifting, on the other hand, is the single most important thing in the game. If you don’t drift very consistently and perfectly around every corner flawlessly the other 19 cars will take off and leave you and you will not see them again for 5 laps when the race ends.

Even though it seemed unnecessary I actually took the tutorial for this game. I made it to the last step of the tutorial about slipstreaming and couldn’t get past it. The tutorial kept telling me to pull up behind the other car but the other car just took off faster than I could possibly pull in behind it. I mean it was gone, off into the horizon. So as I said either I’m missing something with slipstreaming or the tutorial is just broken.

The main flaw of this game and reason I’ll likely never play it again is the minor detail of not having a mini-map of the course. That in and of itself wouldn’t be so terrible except there’s also no warnings of upcoming corners. Just a left or right turn side flashing a few seconds before each turn would be nice. Knowing how far behind the rest of the racers via a mini-map would also be nice. But barring that a little indicator of turns.

Neither of these things would be so bad if not for the other racers having so much superior acceleration and tops speeds from the start. Or if the player could accumulate money or points or experience or something across all races of all types to slowly improve the vehicle in something of “rogue-like” fashion. The Grand Prix mode has something like that but it’s a start from zero each time though.

So the only real way to know when to turn is play over and over again until all the turns of all the courses are memorized. And I just wasn’t having enough fun to warrant doing that.


Metadata

Method of control used XBox One gamepad (USB/off-brand)
Controllable via both one analog stick or digital four-way (“HAT”) yes
Hardware requirements: extremely low end/atom
PCs tried on ~2013 era core i7 laptop/nVidia GPU at 1080p running windows 7
First gen portable PC GPDWin with atom CPU at 720p running windows 10 build 1803
Works with 4:3 screens untested
Initial setup required Had to initially set the game to “full screen” but after that 100% enter game -> play -> exit out entirely with gamepad.
Steam UID732810

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