Today, I got to fly an airplane. Well, a paper plane, to be more precise; and I didn’t fly through the clouds or head to a tropical destination. Instead, I got to take a trip back through my life, and fly through my emotions. Bear with me, it’s worth it.
Lifeslide is a paper plane simulation game that makes players glide through different stages of life. My flight instructor today was Mitko Tsaprev, game designer and founder of Dreamteck – the studio behind Lifeslide.
The goal of Lifeslide is to fly a paper airplane through various levels, each with a different low-poly environment. With Lifeslide, Dreamteck wanted to spread a message of positivity and happiness. Players can decide what to make from their journey, just as they would in real life.
Lifeslide first came out on Apple Arcade in Fall 2019, but its arrival on Steam changes many things in the game.
The PC version of Lifeslide comes with various improvements, including additional levels and new game modes.
“We don’t simply want to port a mobile game to PC,” Tsaprev says. “We want to make it better, by adding more content, polishing existing content, and basically creating a normal, real PC experience.” Lifeslide will also feature weekly challenges on Steam, where players can compete to climb the ranks of a leaderboard.
— Dreamteck (@dreamteckstudio) June 5, 2021
There are also new features coming with the PC release, such as customization options for the paper planes, an improved user interface, as well as a future multiplayer mode in which players will be able to fly with their friends.
Different life paths
Lifeslide includes two modes to fly through its low-poly worlds: Story and Zen. The Story Mode will carry you through 28 different levels, each representing a stage of life. There is no set scenario to play through, and the story is told through the environment. The Zen Mode takes the elements of the Story Mode and mixes them to create an infinite combination of levels. The replayability of the Zen Mode is unlimited, as each level is unique and contains several branching paths, but the Story Mode is where Lifeslide novices should start their journeys.
The Story Mode begins in the stars, with very few environmental elements. As you move through the levels, the environment starts to change. New elements build up as you progress, shaping a new environment as you move forward. Grass starts to grow, birds appear, and nature becomes a more prominent part of the levels.
“The core principle of the game is to fly through the various stages of life,” Tsaprev says. “Everything goes progressively. In the beginning, we have almost nothing, then trees and flowers start to grow, animals appear, challenges get harder. Eventually, trees start losing their leaves, and you get to see the full circle of life.”
Each level is guided by a theme, such as Breathing, Striving, or Understanding. These titles are linked to the natural path everyone takes through life, establishing a natural sense of progression.
“With these titles and the concept of flying through the stages of life, we wanted to remind players that we are lucky to be alive,” Tsaprev says. “If we could make one player a bit happier and appreciative of life, then [that’s] awesome.”
Lifeslide layers new gameplay elements as you go through the levels. Some levels have branching paths and obstacles for you to avoid. There are also elements to gather to repair your plane, in case you ever bump into the floor – which I did a number of times, trying to fly as low as possible.
“The flying mechanics of Lifeslide are quite unique,” Tsaprev told us. “You are only propelled by gravity, so you need to go down to keep on flying. Gravity is your only engine, so you have to be careful with your momentum and take the terrain to your advantage.”
As you move forward, you will also be able to improve your paper plane. Eight different plane models are available, each with its own unique style of flight. Some will fly faster, others are more resistant to damage or can make steeper turns, or have a better overall balance.
Paragliding on your emotions
While Lifeslide may seem like an easy and casual game to play, finding the right balance to keep your forward momentum can be a challenge. As the paper plane has no propelling engine, you have to be aware of how you fly in order to avoid crashing on the ground. If you fly too high or take a steep turn, you will lose your momentum and your plane will drift until it stops moving altogether. To avoid that, try always flying downwards and close to the ground to pick up some speed.
“I’m a mountain biker, and I wanted to recreate the sensation of how my bike feels when I go on jumps and land,” Tsaprev says. “It’s all about managing the weight forward and backward. I wanted to translate this feeling in the game, and mix it with elements of proximity paragliding from videos I’ve seen online. You get to fly really close to nature at high speed, and I thought it was an incredible feeling to add to the game.”
When your plane hits the ground, it will lose durability and eventually end your run. To avoid this, you can improve your paper plane by collecting blue gems, allowing you to purchase various power-ups. For example, you can buy the Steering upgrade to take sharper turns without losing momentum, or Aerodynamics to reduce air friction and therefore improve your speed.
Life on other consoles?
After the PC release, Dreamteck plan to release Lifeslide on consoles as well. The timing of that launch hinges on the success of the game. The team aims to release on both current and next-gen hardware, and a particular console is at the center of their attention.
“I see Lifeslide very much as a Nintendo Switch title,” Tsaprev says. “I’ve been dreaming of releasing it on the Switch. Seeing it working on the development unit is pretty exciting, and I hope we will be able to publish Lifeslide on the Nintendo Switch.”
The improvements continue! Here is a "then and now" of the Harvest level in #lifeslide
— Dreamteck (@dreamteckstudio) May 19, 2021
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Lifeslide a lot. It is a very chill game that tells a personal story, and I am personally looking forward to unwinding with it. The mechanics are easy enough for anyone to quickly grasp how to fly their paper airplane. However, keeping enough momentum to make it to the end of each level is where the challenge of the game – and a lot of the fun – comes in. As Tsaprev told us before we started our first run, you shouldn’t be afraid to take a dive. Sometimes, the only way to go up in Lifeslide is to go down first, just like in real life.
Lifeslide will be coming to Steam on August 6. If you already played the game on iOS, expect major updates and new features coming out soon. And if you can’t wait to get your paper airplane flying, a PC demo of the game will be available on June 12, right on time for the official start of the E3 2021 exhibition. Stick around, we’ll have lots of E3 news and game previews in the coming days!