Downslope: Snowboarding and Ghosts, Reviewed on Linux


Downslope is a recent indie game that was released with a native Linux client. We noticed it back in January 2022 in our native Linux releases feature, and I decided to try it out. The concept is fairly straightforward: you are a snowboarder (seen from the top, top-down scroller, 3D) and start at the top of a mountain, intending to go down all the way.

Each stage is a matter of getting from the top to the bottom of a small section of the mountain. The first few levels act as a tutorial, where you go through almost empty snowy landscapes, just to get to know the controls. Progressively, the game adds a few rocks here and there, making you avoid the obstacles. Not too long after that, in a short cutscene you end up meeting with a ghost… first just one, and a few later on. These ghosts were skiers who died on the very same mountain in the past. They seem to have some kind of history too: maybe their deaths were not purely accidental, since one keeps a grudge against the other. Whenever they appear in a stage, you need to reach the bottom before a countdown reaches zero. If you can’t, the spirit of the ghost catches up with you and kills you instantly.

Note that it does not really matter if you fail, there’s no concept of lives, you can retry as many times as needed. In each level, you can try to grab a few diamonds (3), typically in areas that are rather hard to reach. Getting such diamonds give you more points and gives you access to later parts of the game (to pass certain milestones you need to have collected a sufficient amount of diamonds). What do you do with the extra points? Well, you can use them to purchase virtual goods, outfits for your character and all.

Further levels introduce ski gates (blue and red) forcing you to go left and right along the track. This makes things a lot more difficult as you can’t just skip them: avoiding them will result in your character falling in the snow and the game will make you restart a little ahead of the gate. The dev has made things difficult in some places by putting gates just next to a tree, or between two rocks, just to spice things up.

The controls are very simple (left, right, slow down, jump, and figures when jumping) and very precise. When you lose it’s pretty clear that it’s your fault and not the game’s. Sometimes the location where you restart after a fall is problematic (too close to where the gate actually is) making you lose time with a few more retries than necessary, but that’s rarely a major issue.

Not sure where the music comes from, whether it was made for the game or re-used in the game, but it fits very well as a background music.

The Linux client works as expected too, no problems to report. Sometimes the performance has some hiccups when there’s quite a few objets on the screen, but that’s probably linked to the engine (Unity, I suppose). It could probably do with some optimizations but on a GTX1060 3GB it was good enough.

Overall, Downslope is a relaxing indie title, simple yet well made, that works well in short sessions - no need to invest one hour to progress. This may be a great fit for people with a Steam Deck who are looking to play in short bursts, on the go.