The 2D platformer Celeste kicked off the year as one of the indie market’s best sellers. After three months on the market it’s maintained a top spot on all digital platforms. The 8-bit graphic runner will have you jumping, climbing, and dashing your way to the top of Celeste Mountain. Most prominently though is the falling you’ll be doing throughout your journey, encountering ghosts, and spirits which threaten to derail your ascension. You’ll make both friends and foes, but you’ll learn to use them to help you complete levels. The character design portrays a cartoonish world, at times childish, which the retro platformer often relies on for some of its convoluted stage designs. The disappointing art, and story are equalled by fast-paced, challenging gameplay. A nice upgrade for a genre that seems to get less interesting year-by-year. You can get lost in this game for dozens of hours, whether you’re conquering the mountain, mastering the bonus stages, or collecting every last strawberry hidden in th the mountain. The main story has plenty of side quests, while the post-game has revised levels for the more skilled player, as well as handicaps that can be activated at any time for those eager to wrap the game up quickly.

Story mode
Why are we climbing this mountain? Because, as we’re often told, we just kind of have to. Life’s been getting rough dude, but not as bad is this icy death plateau, it could never be as unforgiving like the fear of the endless void known as life swallowing us whole. In a nutshell, the mountain is a metaphor, for climbing, and other stuff. The lives of your friends are put in peril, and your inner demons become rather, um, “outer”. It doesn’t tske long for you to notice this is a more bizarre mountain than anything you’ve ever seen before. Each leg is broken down into a series of rooms, upon completion the game autosaves at the start of the next room. There’s a hotel along the way, and you’ll pass through a few non-arctic environments in this lengthy venture. Some of the stages are flooded with side quests which are difficult to navigate, but also extends the treacherous task of 100% completion. Your path through the seven gates of Celeste culminates with your character falling all the way down to the bottom, only to climb up the side without stopping anywhere from the previous trail and reaches the peak in half the time of the initial story.

Throughout the never-ending quest to climb stuff, you’ll spot cassette tapes you can grab. Unlocking the games outstanding “B-sides”, altered stages with a strong focus on difficulty. Embracing its true identity as an epic speed-running challenge, less dialogue, more falling, the gameplay mechanics are put to its limits for pure platofrming joy. This game has a great second life, spawning high replay times for fans, and racers. Despite the constant delaying for dialogue breaks on your first playthrough, it’s undeniable that the jumping and dashing becomes addicting quickly. Whether you’re worn out by completing the original mountain, or didn’t enjoy the story, Celeste has a whole lot of content waiting for when you eventually open the game back up. The indie market is littered with games that lack a strong story mode/post-game two-punch, a concept that’s dying out even from larger developers.

Celeste Review
A speedrunner’s fever dream, Mountain style.
Overall score7.3
  • Challenging gameplay mechanics
  • Handicaps for all skill types
  • Expansive post-game
  • Poor art design
  • Dialogue driven story stalls fast gameplay
  • Huge stages without maps
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