Lifeslide: speedrunning as a paper plane

An indie title that was on display at E3, Lifeslide's simple concept supports both a zen gameplay experience and a challenging speedrun opportunity.

By Alice Pow

Filed Under: game feature

E3 was packed with incredible game announcements. We’ve covered some of the big announcements, and looked at a smaller title, Severed Steel. Today, we want to focus on Lifeslide, an E3 indie title from Dreamteck with speedrun potential.

Mitko Tsaprev, the CEO of Dreamteck who created the first version of Lifeslide for a university project back in 2016, was nice enough to provide me with an early access key so I could try the game first hand.

I also spoke to SpeedyDeep, who has already speedrun the game ahead of release.


The Gameplay

In Lifeslide, players take control of a paper plane as they navigate procedurally generated levels in the game’s Story Mode, Zen Mode, and Challenge Mode.

The controls are simple with options for various play styles including mouse control as well as rebindable keyboard and gamepad support.

Flying close to the ground increases the player’s momentum but that can also make obstacles more difficult to evade. Flying through Yellow Gems increases the timer before the plane loses all momentum but flying through Blue Gems contributes to plane upgrades between runs.

According to Tsaprev, “It's a simple concept with simple input but it can have a lot of depth. Learning to fly well takes time and there is a big difference between players who have played 1-2 hours and the ones with 10+ hours.”

I can only speak for the levels I’ve played so far but, between the music, simple art style, and interesting gameplay, Lifeslide has succeeded at creating a game that is both uplifting and challenging.

The game contains minimal text with the story told through the environment and mechanics introduced as they show up which should be appealing for any speedrunners who dislike sluggish tutorials and long unskippable cutscenes.


Speedrunning...speedflying?

Even before the game’s official release on Steam, runner SpeedyDeep has recorded a story mode speedrun of Lifeslide, which clocked in at 1:05:09.

“It definitely has potential to be played for speedruns. That's one of the things I really like about Lifeslide, the difficulty is built into the levels.” he said, “If you want to have a chill experience, take it easy and just glide through the stages and enjoying the scenery, you can totally do that. However, if you want to push the limits of yourself and your plane, all you have to do is try to hug the ground to drive your plane faster, which of course makes navigating the levels exponentially more difficult.”

As far as early speedrun tech, he has made a few discoveries though he’s confident there is more to be uncovered.

In some places, he says, players can quickly line up the angle of their plane with the ground by skidding against the terrain for a moment. This can also occasionally be used for small speed boosts.

To perform another trick he’s named “waffling,” he says, “You basically flap your plane up and down close to the ground to generate speed quickly, but your plane's max speed is the limit to how fast you can build that.”

He went on to describe one more piece of movement tech. “The most interesting mechanic is the death boost, I don't think it's a glitch really, but when you run out of time, your plane goes into a dark mode. In dark mode, you have little to no steering, but your plane will suddenly jump to max speed. So, if you time it right and adopt the right angle right before going dark, you can shoot your plane much further down the level.”

After boosting ahead, the plane will crash into the ground unless it's properly positioned and angled to finish the level or gather more Yellow Gems to refill the timer.


Developing with Attention to Community

Because of players like SpeedyDeep showing interest in speedrunning, Dreamteck is motivated to lean into it. They’re always interested in community feedback for potential features, according to Tsaprev.

They also are open to feedback on accessibility. Tsaprev says, “We have planned a colorblind mode update that we will add after release. We are very open to any kinds of suggestions and requests from the community as well.”

Lifeslide will be released on Steam on August 6, 2021. Check out the Steam demo here.

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