This is what peak performance looks like#
There’s something undeniably spiritual - supernatural, even - about sport. Feats of athletic brilliance are often defined by emotional extremes, last-minute luck and gravity-defying leaps. NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once said, “You play with your soul as well as your body”: we get the feeling he’d love Alpine Dream (Snowboarding), a game all about the magic of getting big air.
Developer TheOtterbon lays out the premise beautifully in a welcoming tutorial: this is your unconscious mind’s ultimate version of snowboarding, where anything is possible. You can bend the laws of physics to your will. Rack up enough points, and you’ll even be able to access a transformative aether state. You thought a 360 nose grab was cool? Try morphing into a shooting star and blazing across the sky.
Still, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Even without these mystical abilities, carving through the snow in Alpine Dream is a delight. The three courses currently available are thoughtfully constructed, from the straightforward, pine-thatched slopes of Conifer Crest to the exhilarating tear across cityscapes and frozen lakes that is Lunar Rest. Each map has several alternate paths (many of them helpfully indicated by red flagpoles, with some hidden jumps left for you to discover yourself). No two runs are ever quite alike, then, meaning it’s easy to spend hours perfecting your line through a single course - more if you’re going for all the feather collectibles, temptingly placed to reward the most daring of jumps. Smart design choices encourage you to go higher, faster, further: the multiplier scoring system pushes you to chain together jumps and tricks more quickly, making the most out of every bump and hillock. Skill points offer a degree of progression, too (although the game could be more obvious about how they’re earned and when they’re available).
Quite apart from all that is just how satisfying it feels to move through Alpine Dream. Through clever sound design and tight controls, TheOtterbon offers an experience on a par with genre heavyweights such as SSX Tricky. Low-risk tricks (with short recovery times, making them easier to land or thread into combos) such as nose and tail grabs live on the bumpers, while more daring athletics such as the Yoga Master often involve the triggers, extended button-presses helping communicate a lengthier recovery time. It’s subtle, but in a game that’s all about activating the player’s muscle memory, it’s the difference between an enjoyable ride and an exquisite one.
Before too long, you’ll find yourself entering that quasi-magical flow state, in which you seem to land even the most complex combos effortlessly; the reverie is only magnified by a calming backdrop of lo-fi beats, the antithesis of the usual pulse-pounding, heart-rate-spiking bass. Happily, it usually manages to coincide with having built up enough energy to activate an aether trick. With the press of a few buttons, you’re suddenly doing the Holy Mackerel and swimming through the aether like a fish, or meditating in the lotus pose while hovering in mid-air to extend your combo timer. It’s absurd, of course. But there’s a ring of truth in how Alpine Dream captures those miraculous moments in sports where - for the briefest of moments - the veil between possible and impossible falls, and you feel like you’re flying.
VERDICT: Sublime controls and smart design elevate this chilled-out, supernatural twist on the snowboarding games of the past.
(Requires that you own Dreams)
The Dreams User Guide is a work-in-progress. Keep an eye out for updates as we add more learning resources and articles over time.