Celeste is a game everyone should play.
Celeste is a 10/10 platforming classic up there with the Mario, Sonic and Crash Bandicoot.
You might be wondering, what makes Celeste a masterpiece?
Let’s get into it.
Celeste – Elements that make it a masterpiece
manages to combine upbeat chiptune and soulful piano. The soundtrack by Lana Raine is fantastic. It lives on its own outside the game. There are times when I’ll stick this on write. It mixes triumphant, upbeat with atmospheric and foreboding. In essence, it has something for everyone.
The game is a pure platformer. What do I mean by that? You go from the left of the screen to the right. It takes a combination of timing, skill and wits. You will fail a lot, but you will sometimes succeed too. You are given a set of moves at the beginning of the game. The moves you have a dash move, and a wall hang. That’s it, you don’t gain any other special abilities, there’s no levelling up, no “RPG-elements”.
Each new chapter of the mountain introduces a new gimmick. The gimmick adds flavour. You have to work on how to exploit the tricks in each section to progress. It’s simple, it’s useful, and it’s all you need.
The graphics look closer to the 8-bit era. It gives it a charm. I love how it feels both nostalgic and contemporary at the same time. The little characters comprised of simplistic pixels are surprisingly expressive. The game is set in our world, now but it is far enough removed that it doesn’t feel like it is attached in any way. It feels like the presentation adds to the overall experience.
The look will future proof the game and help make it a timeless classic. Think about some of the games with “cutting-edge” graphics from years ago. How do you think they hold up? Honestly, probably not well. Celeste will be forever young to those who play.
Let me make a brief side note on the characters. Celeste is one of the few games where I didn’t skip the dialogue sections. The characters all have unique enough traits to make them stand out. Another stroke of genius is the characters aren’t voiced in the traditional sense. Instead, there are sound effects instead of conventional voices. Again this future proofs the game. The only thing that will date the game is when one of the characters yells out “YOLO”
The mountain, Celeste, is a metaphor for conquering your inner demons. The hero is dealing with. It is something that can only be done in a video game form. As you journey up the mountain, as you fail over and over and try again and again, you feel the heroes triumph. The mountain can also represent other elements of Madeline’s inner world.
Celeste never makes the metaphor too obvious. It’s subtle enough so you can ignore it if you want. However, it feels like you are missing out on a fundamental part of the experience.
This section will contain spoilers for the game so skip to the conclusion in that place. At one point of the game Madeline, the character you play gets split from her “dark side”. Throughout the game, there are sections where you will race against your doppelganger. The doppelganger exists to bring Madeline down. Now in most games, in a lot of media, the evil twin is something to be defeated.
Here is where I realised Celeste is indeed something special. In Celeste instead, has Madeline integrate her evil twin. They become allies. This is some next-level storytelling. It is easy for a character in a story to destroy or get rid of their negative qualities. For a game like Celeste to go the other route is mature. Celeste’s message is, getting rid of your negative traits may be what you want, but it is better to integrate them. In short, Celeste communicates you need to accept yourself for who you are. Be honest with yourself. Something maybe you could learn from—something I definitely need to do.
Celeste is a timeless masterpiece. I love it, and if you want to check it out for yourself, Celeste is available on PC, Xbox and Playstation.
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