**SPOILER TERRITORY, PLEASE DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOU INTEND TO PLAY THROUGH CELESTE WITH NO PRIOR KNOWLEDGE**
P.S. – All images are captured from my own gameplay.
One of many plans that I have for 2019 is to finish more games. Not to complete them perfectionist style, but the most basic level of completion-the main story mode. My first attempt of 2019 was Celeste.
Celeste became a surprise Xbox One Games with Gold addition on January 1st. As someone that has had it on my must-play list and somehow hadn’t managed to buy it (I’ve coveted it on the Nintendo Switch), I jumped at the freebie opportunity.
This month is the 1 year anniversary of the game’s release. Celeste was instantly a critical hit, and sold more than 500,000 copies over home consoles and PC over 2018. My fervor for this platformer was as its peak when The Game Awards announced it as a nominee for Game of the Year.
The Game Awards aired on December 6th, 2018. During the show, the Nintendo Eshop had the game discounted. BUT my logic was that it was only a $4 discount, the game would be cheaper down the line, AND so many other great games were better discounted at the same time. December 2018 proved to be a great time to be a Switch gamer, so I didn’t feel like I truly missed out (The amazing Limited Run Games is releasing this soon, so if I don’t get it, I will die). The game did leave the show with the award for “Games for Impact” and “Best Independent Game”, which kept my interest at a high level.
I played the hell out of the multiplayer in Towerfall Ascension, created by the same indie company that made Celeste, so when I downloaded the game on my Xbox, I knew there would be familiar feelings on the controls side of things. I also knew this would be a brutal platformer and that people were inspired by the story. I did not comprehend that the story would be fully fleshed out in this art style, as I thought there would be a splash painting showing story points every so often (which there are), without so much in-game dialogue and cutscenes rendered in this beautiful pixel-art masterpiece.
From the second I started the game, I was enthralled. I was right that it felt a lot like traversing the world of Towerfall–except the name of the game is FAILURE. You are supposed to die a lot in this game (without failure, we don’t learn). It’s not often that a gameplay style so easily captures the essence of the story, but here it lies. Madeline is the darling protagonist that tackles Celeste mountain as a not-so-subtle goal to change her life in the midst of depression. She very much feels like the quintessential millenial, so I understand why modern gamers are so attracted to the feels here.
I played the game in chunks over three days, and miraculously finished it on 1/8/19. There are eight chapters with what amounts to a challenge chapter that unlocks afterwards, along with the replayability of trying to collect strawberries in each level or completing the “B” sides if you feel so inclined. I don’t. Please don’t make me. I’m still warm and fuzzy over the ending, which shows Madeline make friends with the darkest part of her that was previously holding her back. The story is a bit sugar-coated, but is still a great exploration of depression that many feel, and is easily accessible, even during the subtle parts. It’s meant to be an experience, so I won’t ruin the rest, but suffice to say, every time I declared I was one attempt away from giving up on the game (the difficulty can get insane, and this game kills your hands if you play too long), I would succeed and that drove me significantly further towards progressing Madeline’s personal goal.
Deaths: 2,389 over 8 chapters
Completion Time: 11 hours, 11 minutes
Did cry once. If you haven’t, play Celeste. I do recommend you play it on the system that has your most accurate D-Pad. I found the Xbox One controller tough to play with, but I’m sure if you have the Elite controller or a special third party, you’d be better off.
Thanks for reading!