Aint no mountain high enough
I felt bad. I hadn’t heard of Celeste until maybe a few days before it was out, and I don’t know how it skimmed past my radar. Jamie mentioned it in one of our Podcasts (which you should listen to, it’s actually pretty great) and I was interested as soon as he told me the premise. After I was dead set on playing it, I saw all my favourite content creators and now fellow peers either saying they were excited or raving about how great it actually was. I was sold, and I needed it. That same day, I bought it and started telling Jamie how amazing it was, and he then asked if I wanted to review it, so I jumped at the chance. I want to tell this game’s story and try my absolute hardest to convince you to play/experience it, it is fantastic.
I guess first of all I should explain what the game is and how it plays? It’s a retro-looking platformer that requires precise movement and timing, ala Super Meat Boy and 1001 Spikes. It just so happens that Super Meat Boy is one of my favourite games and these types of games are some of if not my favourite genre. The crux of the story is that you’re a girl (I forget her actual name as you can name her) and she wants to climb the mountain named Celeste. That’s pretty much it, but don’t let the simple premise fool you, there is so much emotion and well-crafted storytelling that by the end of the game, my partner (who was watching me the whole time) was in tears and I was very affected by the overall narrative. There are separate stages of the mountain and with that come different platforming challenges specific to that level. At one stage, you’re in darkness and you must light your way, while also using red spheres to angle your way up certain jumps, while in another the wind is blowing in varying speeds and you have to calculate what kind of jump is required to make it through. It offers a refreshing take on each level and keeps the game feeling new and exciting.
Even though the game has a retro look, the graphics are beautiful and honestly, I would rather play these kinds of looking (and playing) types of games, over the Witcher or something of the like. I feel there is more of a nuance when creating games like Celeste, and I don’t want to come across like I don’t think there was effort put into Witcher 3 (because that game is a feat of incredible gaming engineering) but its more than I feel these games deserve to be put up in the same league but in a different way. Either way, this game is beautiful the whole way through and visually I was never bored and was wowed every single time I began a whole new stage of my climb. One other aspect of the game that I feel makes this game more incredible, is its music. Its reserved when it needs to be, it gets moving when appropriate and it is beautiful all the time. I loved its score, so much so, I’m currently listening to it now as I write this and if anyone wants to know who wrote it, their name is Lena Raine.
The gameplay itself was tight as it should be when it comes to what I like to call “extreme platformers”. Every level was designed with love and was designed to make you feel accomplished after every time you finished it. Every jump needed to be either well timed, or perfectly placed or both and it felt on purpose. Every single pixel felt right and felt purposeful and it felt like a challenge but a fair one.
The other thing I would like to mention when talking about this game is the other side of being how challenging it can be and that’s the constant dying. I knew what I was in for and wouldn’t even say that I’m a novice at these kinds of games but I died and I died a lot. So, if you are not prepared to fail, rethink this game. I died just over 2000 times, I think last time I checked it was about 2015 and I would say maybe half of those would be either for secrets or trying to get the main collectible in the game; Strawberries. I feel like I developed a few catchphrases when playing this game and it was either “But I need that strawberry” or “(a bunch of expletives)” and then “forget the stupid strawberry” and both came in any order. I don’t feel I got as many as I would like, and I know there’s a secret if I got them all, but if I tried; I would still be playing and not reviewing… so here we are.
That leaves me with the main question you would have when reading this review; Should I buy this game? The answer is yes. It was a delight to play, everything about this game was perfect and it was made by a small team and was headed by just one guy and that’s impressive on its own but when its many peoples contender for game of the year (IN FEBRUARY!) and it makes people have emotional attachments and hits home, all while being a genuinely fun game, it’s a no-brainer. Buy this game and love this game, I know you will.