Celeste (Nintendo Switch) Review

Celeste is one of those incredible platformer games of which I think that I can totally speedrun them. If only there were not so many other great games to play on my to do list and I had an infinite amount of time in my hands to practice a lot. Oh well, I still can enjoy the speedruns other do and they’re amazing. But before we do that, let’s answer the age old question, should you buy: Celeste?

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Celeste brings mountains & self-doubt together

So what is Celeste? Celeste is actually the name of the mountain that our protagonist, Madeleine, is trying to climb. Reaching the peak is the only goal you have right from the start, it’s a very straight forward idea. The twist is actually that not only Madeleine but also the mountain are special, hiding old magic that releases potential from within the characters in the game and more. You as the player will control Madeleine and will help her reach her goal to climb the Celeste Mountain by jumping, wall-jumping and climbing and also using her magic dash move. While climbing, you will run out of strength to hold on to walls and of course will also make a fall, so be sure to either find a save place to shortly stand on in order to take a breath, or use one of the many ways the chapters will introduce to replenish your strength midst-climb.

Good luck finding the secret Celeste Pico-8 mini game!

trust issues and personalities

Madeleine is not the only character you’ll get to know on the seven chapter long journey to the peak. Alongside of Mr. Oshiro, a long dead ghost and hotel owner and an old lady that just lives on Celeste, you’ll also meet Theo, a young office worker from Seattle who hated his job and hopes for enlightenment by climbing Celeste. He’s a fellow that will both entertain and brighten up your day with his charming style and goofy behavior. Later on you can even have a conversation between Madeleine and Theo in which both will reveal a lot about their past, their problems and even the topics of death, depression and anxiety. Though this conversation is not the main factor of the game or gameplay, I found it very charming to have two characters in a seemingly small indie platformer game having such a profound, while also shortened, exchange. Theo also has his own Instagram account amazingly, which enriches the world even further by linking it deeper into our own reality besides being a videogame.

Madeleine and Theo at the fireplace. Their conversation can go really deep if you chose so.

the figurative mountain

As you might notice, I don’t spent much time talking about the gameplay right now. That again throws me back a little bit to what I said about Night In The Woods in my last review. The gameplay is of course center and main element of the game. But besides the fact that each of the 7 chapters features fantastic platforming, increasing challenges that will keep you on your toes at all times and nice 16-bit style graphics, it has just so much more to offer. Besides the already mentioned characters, Madeleine and her struggle in climbing the mountain gets literally personified in her dark alternative self which is posing as your antagonist for almost the entire game. Dark-Madeleine is the perfect circle this game is drawing as both Madeleine’s goal to climb the peak of Celeste Mountain and herself overcoming her own doubt and fear that is holding her back in the “real” world is being repressed and sabotaged by her own alternate self.

Heo and villain are both you, as you have to overcome your own fear and doubt in order to climb this mountain

Here’s the bonus

While the game until the end of the story arc with its prologue, 7 chapters and epilogue, is already delivering a lot of playtime, in my case 8 hours, it does not stop there. The game features many collectibles with each having their own meaning and use. While strawberries are one collectible right in your normal line of sight, there are also hidden crystal hearts that you can collect by finding the right secret passages. The game actually takes some notes from other titles like even Super Mario Bros 3 later on and invites you to explore, hug walls for hidden paths and even an extra mini game, featuring Celeste in an 8-bit style retro PC version, in which you can yet again climb the Celeste Mountain with even higher difficulties in platforming levels. And, if you finish the story and collected also the crystal hearts, you will get access to a bonus chapter 8, which tops the difficulty of yet again with a new twist, your energy does not replenish by just standing, you actually have to touch the stamina diamonds or die and respawn.

The game even offers a post story extra chapter which will be tougher than any level before.

Conclusion

As I started this review I still stand by the point: I totally could speedrun Celeste. I come to this conclusion as the game is setting me in rooms or segments which all have a certain required sequence of moves you have to correctly execute as a player. Figuring out this sequence is the first part, as it not only gets longer and more complex, the later the chapters are, you also will need to both develop and sharpen your muscle memories in order to sucessfully finish this game. It’s fair, but still takes some time to get to used to. Easy to learn, harder to master and beat. Luckily the game also offers an assist mode which can enable you infinite stamina and/or invincibility. Still, especially with the last chapter segment, the actual peak climbing, all these assists will not help you if you miss your right wall to hug or the correct dash sequence to reach the next save platform. Good luck!

Will you reach the peak or will you give up? The challenge of the game may stop you before getting here, but it is possible. Believe in yourself!