Game Bites Review | Celeste

It’s time for another Game Bites Review and I take a look at the wonderfully challenging and excellently crafted 2D platformer, Celeste by Matt Makes Games!

Dashing to the Top

Have you ever wanted to climb a mountain only to fall to your death approximately 4329 times? How about eating a handful of strawberries in a haunted hotel, run by an overbearing and slightly obsessive ghost? Or better yet, running into your dark doppelganger over and over again as they try to sabotage you as you work your way to the top.

Well my dear backloggers, this time around on The Backlog Odyssey, I’ll be taking a look at the game that gives us all of that, a few hand cramps and so much more, Celeste. So, tighten your climbing boots and don’t forget your protein packed bag of trail mix because it’s time for another Game Bites review!

PICO-Great!

Celeste is a platforming puzzler developed by Matt Makes Games of Towerfall fame and was originally released in 2018. Though, before it’s recent release, Celeste had much humbler beginnings!

Shortly after the release of TowerFall Dark World, the final expansion for Matt Makes Games’ critically acclaimed TowerFall Ascension, Matt Thornson and Noel Berry set out to create a game jam style game, that is, a game that’s designed and developed within a short period of time, for the wonderfully charming PICO-8 Fantasy console. A cool little virtual console developed by Lexaloffle. And four days later an equally charming and hard as nails platformer was born! Now known as Celeste Classic. Which, if you know where to look, can be found and played in the version we’re talking about today!!

After receiving critical acclaim and of course being inspired by the little gem that they created, Matt and Noel gathered a team and set out to expand upon Celeste. Increasing the number of levels, improving upon the graphics, adding more challenges and writing a story to tie it all together. And after 3 years of hard work Celeste was released upon the world in January of 2018.

Overcoming All Obstacles

In Celeste, you play as the persistent and vigilant Madeline who set it upon herself to face the challenges of climbing the infamous Celeste Mountain. A treacherous place that seems to lure wandering souls who have lost their way. But the perilous cliffs and dangerous pitfalls aren’t the only thing Madeline has to worry about, because the mountain has its own ways of bringing out your inner strife (literally) and force you to overcome the turmoils that are holding you back. It’s almost like climbing the mountain is a metaphor for something…

And along the way Madaline will encounter a cast of interesting, silly and sometimes scary characters that will help and occasionally hinder her on her journey.

The Peak of Perfection!

Honestly, if you’re in the mood for a fantastically designed 2D platformer, you won’t have to look much further than Celeste. The team over at Matt Makes Games has created a top notch experience with beautifully crafted pixel art, colorful and varied environments and level design that’ll make you bite your bottom lip in pure gaming ecstasy… or in some cases, fury! Even if by the end of it you’ll be pulling your hair out trying to make that insanely complicated jump. I think it’s impossible not to have fun! But you’ll especially be trying to pull your hair out if you try and tackle the B-Side and C-Side versions of each stage.

One thing I won’t hesitate to say, is that even though Celeste can be challenging, it never becomes frustrating. Nor do you ever feel like you can’t succeed. I can vouch for that too, I mean, if I’m still thinking about it after 4000+ deaths, that’s saying something! And as long as you’re steadfast and willing to take the time to learn it’s mechanics you’ll eventually succeed and taste the sweet and tangy flavor of success!! But I’ll attribute its ability to make me want to try it over and over again to Celeste’s excellent and tight controls. That and it’s cleverly designed obstacles. The controls are just as responsive as you need so you always know what’s going to happen when you push that button and the worlds are constructed in such a way that you’ll be in awe with how the devs stretched the capabilities of a relatively simple set of mechanics!

The only thing I can think of, that could deter someone from wanting to play Celeste, is it’s intimidation factor. I mean, not only does it look hard, it IS hard. Or at least it can be. But here’s the thing, you don’t have to play the super tough stages if you don’t want to! In fact, I’d recommend most people avoid them and just enjoy the wonderfully written and touching main story. It’ll provide just the right amount of challenge and you’ll get to meet all the fun characters and read their quick witted dialog along the way! And if after that you’re still craving more, then maybe dip your toes into the meat grinder!

Best Played with Strawberries

It’s been a long time since I last played a game I wholeheartedly expected to like, but was still surprised by how much I enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of challenging platformers with tight controls, cute pixelated graphics and more variety than you can shake a strawberry at, then I’d highly recommend you check out Celeste. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! Just be sure to pack those delectably delicious berries by the truck load. And I can’t wait to see what the platforming magicians over at Matt Makes Games, comes up with next!


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