Celeste review

February 11th, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments


I’m actually really having trouble to even figure out what to say about this game. I finished it over a week ago and I’m not quite sure what to write in a review. Not because it’s bad, that’s very much not the case. But at the same time it’s so… straightforward. So it took me a while to get into writing this review.

There’s not much to say about it pre-release, I saw some videos and thought it looked pretty good. It looked pretty similar to something like Super Meat Boy. So I grabbed it.

Read on! (This will be a fairly short review)

Developer and publisher: Matt Makes Games Inc.
Date of Release: January 25th 2018
Platform: Switch, PC, PS4, Xbone (Switch version reviewed)
Genre: “Single-screen”/Side-scrolling Platformer

Rated E10+ for Everyone over 10

Presentation

The game features pixel art. It’s overall pretty generic, though I quite enjoy the environments with the cool detailed backgrounds, and despite the boring character sprites the game still manages to have some really interesting set pieces here and there. The characters in sprite form end up not looking much like their non-sprite forms, which looks a bit better in contrast. The best part of the graphics, too me, is that little icon of Madeline running in the level select cursor. It’s super cute and I kinda wish the whole game looked like that. As far as gameplay though the game is very well designed visually, there’s pretty much no point where the graphics are confusing, so it serves the gameplay perfectly.

Nothing to report on the sound side, there’s some really nice music here and there though.

The story… you play as Madeline. She’s millennial-style “depressed”, so she decides to climb up Celeste Mountain in Canada (note: not a real mountain) because… reasons. On the way she meets a social media dude taking selfies, an old woman, a ghost, and, most importantly, her inner demons in the form of what I’m calling Dark Madeline.  She’s basically trying to find herself. And the story seems like it was written by an angsty 15 year-old on Twitter. It’s not a bad story, it’s just kinda cringily-written. And in the end it all feels like there wasn’t much of a point to it.

Gameplay

This is a single-screen obstacle course game, so the goal of every screen is simply to get to the next one.

The game has 2 core mechanics: wall jumping/climbing, and air dashing. And it’s through those 2 mechanics that the whole game builds itself on. As per other games of this genre each level is covered in things that will kill you. Madeline can air dash in 8 directions, but only once per jump (her hair color changes to let you know if you’re out of a dash). You can cling to walls, wall jump and climb up walls for a limited time (there’s an invisible stamina bar, if Madeline starts flashing she runs out and will slide down walls).

There’s a lot of level gimmicks, so I won’t spoil them all here. But most of them are used in really interesting ways. One of the main ones is the crystals, which replenish your air dashes. There’s also platforms that move either when you touch them or when you dash. If you jump off a moving platform you keep that movement’s momentum for extra length and height. In general I love that the game keeps adding stuff for you to do in every level without actually changing the mechanics, it’s quite interesting.

As far as extra stuff, there’s a lot. Many screens have strawberries you can pick up, which… I have no idea what they do (I think getting them all in a level lets you get a golden strawberry but I don’t know). You can find crystal hearts which I believe open an extra level, and you can find B-side cassette tapes which unlock a harder version of each chapter.

It’s a game that requires decent precision and skill, but it’s extremely well built.

Overall

Celeste got a lot of hype upon release and it’s well-deserved. The gameplay is really simple and it builds on the simple mechanics with really cool level gimmicks and level designs pushing these gimmicks to the absolute limit.

I’ve not completed everything in the game and have no intention to after going through the story, but if you’re the type to do everything in a game this will take a pretty decent amount of time, especially with the B-Side levels being so tough (I dunno about the C-side ones, didn’t get that far).

The presentation might not be much to talk about overall, but the gameplay is very solid so whatever. There’s basically nothing to complain about in this game.

I definitely recommend this game.

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