Celeste is a difficult 2D platformer. It doesn’t even try to make it appear more accessible than it is, which reminds me of the smash game Super Meat Boy from a few years back. It is similarly captivating, and the screenplay adds to its allure.
It’s the narrative of a girl who decides to climb the namesake mountain. This task also has a metaphorical importance, since the protagonist fights with self-confidence and panic episodes. He wants to show something to himself and the world by conquering the mountain. So we progress through stages that grow increasingly challenging, but they are not easy even at the beginning. This is a game that makes it plain from the start that replaying one screen a dozen times will be the standard throughout the trip. However, because of the well-thought-out and frequent save points, it doesn’t annoy us at all. It’s also worth noting at the outset that the authors have prepared a simplified mode. Assist Mode allows people who are uncomfortable with challenging platformers to enjoy the game; we can even choose whether the heroine should run out of energy or become insensitive to harmful items in the environment. In practice, these were referred to as codes.
The gameplay is straightforward, as is typical of similar platformers. We have the ability to jump, bounce off barriers, and glide in the air. In addition to this rather typical range of movements, the character may cling on to surfaces and climb on them to the extent that his stamina permits. Controlling the heroine was brilliantly conceived, and everything functions flawlessly, resulting in a seamless gameplay experience. Following boards frequently ask us to proceed continuously and without halting, which is why the pace is nice. Of course, there are times when you should take a break. The most difficult levels are paired by something a little easier. Each new mechanism or kind of obstacle is explained over a few short screens before the fun begins. Subsequent areas have new obstacles – and there is no repetition over the full 7-8 hours. Climbing and jumping are just addicting. Mostly because we always know what has to be done and only little errors keep us from achieving our goal. Celeste is using our ambition, and we don’t want to be shattered.
Celeste should also be commended for something unusual in platformers: conversations and character building. If we encounter someone on our route to the top, it is usually a well-written character – we can frequently only exchange a few phrases and go on, but there are many optional chats that enable us to get to know other individuals. Madeline isn’t just a collection of pixels. The developers managed to give her a lot of personality, so we immediately were attracted to her; which is amazing, given that we wouldn’t completely comprehend what the girl looks like if it weren’t for the photos exhibited throughout the chats. The environment doesn’t stick out because it’s simply a well-made retro-pixel look. As a result, it doesn’t leave an impact, unlike the music, which flawlessly accentuates each place and task.
Celeste is an excellent platformer. Simple mechanics appear to be combined into a nicely coordinated whole. Everything here makes logic and blends with the other parts, and the designers’ inventiveness keeps you from becoming bored. You can’t miss this if you appreciate challenging, two-dimensional jumping games with primary characters.