Celeste Is Perfect

I know its a year late fuck off.

I recently started playing Celeste, a game developed by Matt Makes Games and was originally created during a four-day game jam, which a surprising amount of fantastic games originate from game jams. Now, most people now will know about Celeste being that it was released a year ago. For a game as successful as it was and well-rated (97% positive on steam) not many people who haven’t played the game know much about it and I want to change that. Out of the games I’ve played this year, there is one that I want everyone to play.

The game is currently $9.99 (50%) on steam until December 3rd and I urge you to pick this up, support the indie creators and treat yourself to this masterpiece. 

I started playing Celeste around two weeks ago and I’ve put 44 hours into this game and I would have easily put more time into it if I wasn’t busy. I don’t like single-player games, The last single-player game I finished was Katana Zero like a year ago. I can never usually find the inspiration to play single-player games and despite that, I will lovingly put all my time into this game and I don’t know what makes this game different. I mean I beat the actual story 20 hours ago why am I still playing. Cause it’s fun? cause there’s more content? Because of collectibles? Or maybe for the speed-running aspect, ya it’s all of these. 

I said earlier that I had beat the “actual story” but that’s not entirely true. It’s considered that you’ve beaten the game after the 7th chapter but after that there are two more, in addition, there are things called “B-Sides” which are… A wee bit more difficult (more on that later) and collectibles spread around the map. So no, I’m not done with the game quite yet but after a thorough view of the game, I think I can give this game the proper credit it deserves. 

[Difficulty]

Celeste is a difficult game but it’s in no way too difficult. When you progress through the game I will take you hours to beat each chapter first try and throughout the whole game you’ll feel like the game is continuously difficult and that’s something they nailed. You don’t realize it until you playback through the game to either collect strawberries or just relive the game but this game trains you well. You will come to realize that you are amazing at all the chapters that came before and that you can get through them with ease. It’s almost startling how good you get at this game and at the same time feel like you’re shit at it. 

“Forsaken City”
(This used to feel difficult)

You will die a lot in this game. One of the chapters is bound to have something that is your weakness. Something that is significantly more difficult for you than others, you’ll stroll through the game with only 300 deaths on each chapter then pull a fat 1200 death on one chapter. For some people this may be Celestial Resort, others the Golden Ridge, My weakness is the Mirror Temple.

I’ve seen complaints about this game that the deaths feel valueless or unearned which while I will agree that death in this game is no big deal, I’m not sure how that is a downfall of this game. On the other hand, deaths feeling unearned or like you did nothing wrong, ya you did, almost every death in this game is your fault for being dogshit at it. There is only one type of case where death is undeserved. Dashing diagonally in this game is inconsistent as fuck, you will fail the same level one hundred times because the game won’t let you diagonal jump but whenever you don’t want to diagonal jump you will. I don’t know what fucking witchcraft this is but its somehow consistent.

Another criticism that I will address is the controls so for keyboard users use this button layout.

Arrow keys for movement

Space = Jump

X = Talk

C = Dash

Z = Grab

Have both hands on the keyboard of course. I will take a bit used to this layout but I’ve become quite fond of it.

People often point out that B-Sides and Core are unfairly difficult which while they are difficult they are nowhere near unfair. That spot goes to Farewell which ill talk about later. 

[B-Sides] 

I went into the B-Side of Forsaken City being able to beat the normal mode of it without dying once. I died 742 times, B-Sides don’t fuck around. They will shatter your confidence so quick but hey, You get a nice crystal heart after it. Let me explain real quick. B-Sides are alternative routes the game provides you when finding a tape in the normal level. B-Sides also provide a collectible item that assists you in unlocking Core. B-Sides will fuck you hard and make you realize you are still this game bitch.

[Collectibles]

I love this game’s collectibles system. There are three types of collectibles. Strawberries which are feel-good points you can flex at your friends, Cassette tapes which unlock the B-Sides to chapters and are very nice to have if you’re a masochist and Crystal hearts which are the most difficult to collect of the bunch.

There are usually four different ways you collect these items. Breaking through a wall that looks extremely similar to its surroundings with the only difference sometimes being a small crack in the wall. Collecting teardrops without touching the ground, beating a stage that’s separated from the route up and strawberries with wings which escape every time you dash. Strawberries, while worthless, are fun to collect, and there are plenty. Around 30 per chapter. There is one B-Side per chapter and one crystal heart on each chapter and B-Side.

I’ve just learned that core B-Side requires every crystal heart in the game to unlock, oh no. I’m not gonna be able to stop myself. I’m gonna unlock that route if its the last thing I do.

[Story]

Spoilers

Celeste, a 2D platformer all about being difficult, has a phenomenal story with great characters.

Madeline is a sweet girl with a lot of problems and is really stubborn. The person you play as.

Pragmatic is a pessimistic bitch who thinks she’s right all the time. She is part of you

Mr. Oshiro is a lost soul who’s constantly in denial, subconsciously pushes people away and makes you feel bad for him

Theo gives great advice and is just a chill guy. He also has the best hair.

The old lady is your stereotypical crazy and stuck up person who for some reason is correct and very helpful

Each character has their own draw piece at the end of each chapter, in photographs and during conversations. They each show emotion and relatability. At the start of the game, you should hate Pragmatic but when you look at her reactions to what Madeline says, you can see humanity and immediately feel connected to her despite being the antagonist.

And at the end of the game, everyone has a nice pie together and gets along which feels amazing after the first 6 chapters you spend fearing Pragmatic or Part of you. You spend a whole chapter running from her than spend all the chapters up until chapter 6 blaming everything on her and trying to get rid of her and seeing the two slowly become friends and work together is the most heartwarming thing on the planet. The end credits with both of them heading down the mountain having fun together couldn’t have been a better ending.

The game talks a lot about stress, anxiety and panic attacks. It forms the negative parts of you as Pragmatic, this entity that when you reject, holds you back and hurts you but when you actually confront it with open arms and accept this negative part of you you learn to accept it and work together with it because it’s not your enemy, it’s you and you have to learn to accept yourself. I don’t feel like I have the right to talk about how meaningful the story is here. I don’t suffer from anything close to what this represents and I feel like this means a lot more to others than it does me but I appreciate that this game has gotten what it may feel like across to me and I thank it for that. 

Matt Makes Games had a story to tell and they told it here. They got their point across flawlessly and beautifully 

[Post Chapter 7]

After chapter 7 there are two bonus chapters. The one most people complain about being too difficult is Core which just tells me that they didn’t beat Core because after Core is something far far more difficult. Like holy shit levels of difficulty. Core looks like pussy shit after you try Farewell. A farewell is a story about loss after the old granny died. Madeline believes a bird is connected to the granny and follows it. Madeline and Pragmatic get into a fight and Pragmatic refuses to help Madeline out. You are then thrown into the most difficult god damn chapter of your life. 

I haven’t beaten Farewell yet, I’ve spent 3 continuous hours, 1000 deaths, a youtube tutorial and I am currently ¼ of the way through this chapter. It’s by far the most difficult and I only recommend it to anyone who wants to play Core B-Side which requires 15 crystal hearts.

Do I think it’s unfairly hard? No, I still don’t. It makes you think for sure and doesn’t hand you the answer but it is possible and is rewarding once you beat a single stage in which there are over 100 stages in this chapter. It’s hell in chapter form but so is getting over a loss. 

[Art]

How could I talk about this game and not talk about its art style? This game looks fantastic in every way. From the motion in people’s hair being more satisfying than Nvidia Hairworks to the myriad of environments all beautifully designed. The colors of each location fit the mood and are very atmospheric. Golden Ridge is bright and colorful, Mirror temple is dark and distorted and Summit has a pink haze all of these are unique and fun to look at. 

Look at this mans hair

The characters as stated earlier are fantastic looking and one of my favorite things is when Pragmatic sticks her head out of frame. It’s just perfect I love it.

This game pixel art surpasses Stardew valley and any other pixel-based game I’ve ever played. Map designs are flawless, colors aren’t too dull and aren’t too harsh and you can tell characters emotions just but a few pixels. I am impressed with every aspect of this game.

[Conclusion]

Go buy this game right now. As of writing this, it is currently 50% off. Support the developers because god knows they deserve this. 

This game hits the nail on the head in every regard. Fun collectibles, tons of content, replayability, speed-runnable, fantastic story and characters. The art is phenomenal. I can’t praise this game enough, it’s just fantastic in every regard and deserves to be played by everyone. Everyone should hear its story.

10/10: Matt Makes Games had a story to tell and told it perfectly ~Escape Zero