Hold Back And Enjoy The Slipstream

Living up to its namesake, if you want to stay in the race, make sure you ride the Slipstream. Out now on the PS4.

It’s a bit of a cliche to say arcade perfect in my retro reviews, but Slipstream isn’t that far off it. In many ways, this sleek, stylish skidmark-induced racer will tick the box for many retro fans who were ‘there’, man.

If you were ‘there’, circa Out-Run when it was in the arcades and not part of Sega Ages, and Lotus Turbo Challenge was the definitive racing game on the Amiga and not that car that your pony-tailed boss at the call centre drives. Surely you’ve had a boss who drove a Lotus Exige at some point in your life?

Slipstream is a third-person – or chase perspective – racing game. In my initial post, I mentioned Chase HQ, and it definitely has those vibes without the bullets. While it is more like Out-Run than any other title, it has an ace up its sleeve – well, two aces: drifting and an instant rewind.

Slipstream PS4 Review - Bo Selecta
Bo selecta. Source: PR

Using the arcade classic as the model, you’ll race against random opponents and the clock to win the coveted Grand Tour. Each race continues to another area of your choice via one of two paths. Said paths unlock a biome to some degree, ranging from ancient monuments to a cityscape. Pending you beat your opponent.

The Grand Tour mode is a knockout mode to some extent, as should you lose a race, it’s game over. Likewise, if you run out of time, it’s also game over. Slipstream is quite a tough game on two levels. First, there’s the immediate challenge of timing and speed: drifting can be automated, but at the risk of losing momentum, so you need to master it. Additionally, being one of those retro folks of old, my eyes struggled with the stages after continuous use.

That’s down to the old school scrolling and pop-ups of landmarks and scenery and the speed this runs. It’s no anti-gravity racer, but it does play havoc on my eyes, so I had to play sporadically. A speed adjuster helps with the learning curve, but this meant I would run out of time on the Grand Tour, so running at 100% speed is recommended. To counter the dodgy eye element, there are several filter combinations such as pixel, CRT and NTSC. The latter was my favourite, offering crisp visuals at the sacrifice of it being a yellow screen. If only there were scanlines in the options.

Back to Slipstream gameplay, and it’s fair to say that Slipstream is a classic ‘pick up and play’ but a bitch to master. There are several cars that you can choose from that have numerous stats such as handling, top speed and acceleration. In my experience, the car with the top speed was the only way to go because the catch up in this game can be harsh, and you’re frequently battling out opponents you’ve only recently passed. Said opponents will trash talk you, but it’s hard to read that and focus simultaneously. I didn’t get all the references but did pick up on the Initial-D driver.

One way of getting one up on your opponents is to use that rewind option. Pressing triangle will rewind a racing line or, most likely, a crash you’ve just endured, allowing you to correct and typically take the lead. There is a five-second cooldown, and this works perfectly. It neither allows you to spam it nor do you have to wait forever if you have a bad run. I didn’t use it that often – not because of exemplary driving, but I forgot about it!

Besides the main Grand Tour, there are many modes in Slipstream, including a Cannonball eliminator, Grand Prix to win a few cups, single races, and much more. Though you can’t customise the car’s cosmetics, in some of the modes, you can earn money to reinvest in the stats you want. In this mode, focusing on top speed would be my recommendation once again. 

Slipstream is an excellent game by ansdor. While it’s not perfect, it’s arcade perfect in that I’d have played this at the arcade (and lost lots of money). Despite it not being perfect, there isn’t much I’d change. The visuals I had an issue with were an age thing on my part, but the overall look and feel were great. However, it could do with scanlines. 

Not touched upon in this Slipstream PS4 review is the soundtrack – it’s faultless if you like tunes with a vaporwave slant. While I can’t play this for long periods, it gets the thumbs up treatment, and I encourage you to add this to your wishlist when buying something new.