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JFo

Celeste—A Must-Play 2D Maso-core Game (Steam, Switch, PS4, Xbox One)

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So this is a game that came out back in January and seemed to have slipped under the radar. I, for one, didn’t hear about it until a week ago when someone mentioned it in my Twitter feed. I looked into it and purchased it a day or two later on Switch. The buzz surrounding it was pretty strong with near-universal praise coming from all the major gaming sites. IGN even gave it a 10, calling it "surprise masterpiece."

 

Quick summary—this is a 2D maso-core platformer in the vein of Super Meat Boy. You play as Madeline, a young woman determined to climb Celeste Mountain and overcome her inner demons. It offers more or less what you'd expect from the genre: simple, tight controls, steep difficulty, and pixel art graphics. Madeline's move set consists of running, jumping, and wall climbing. She can also perform a single dash mid-air in any direction, which plays heavily into the level design as you can imagine. The game is split into 8 levels, each of which introduces new mechanics and challenges to keep the experience fresh and interesting. Additionally, each level has a "B-side," a more difficult version of it for those who want even more challenge.

 

Jumps requires near-perfect precision to execute, which means you'll be dying... a lot. Thankfully, respawning is nearly instantaneous, so you can immediately try again. It's frustrating at times, but in the good way that you expect from a challenging game like this. The best moments are when you nail a jump that's killed you 20+ times and feeling like a total badass once you finally do it.

 

Where Celeste really distinguishes itself from the likes of Super Meat Boy though is that offers a surprisingly rich story full of great writing and memorable characters. I honestly don't expect much from the genre in that regard, but this may be one of the best written games I've played in some time The plot itself is not particularly complex—basically Madeline wants to climb a mountain and that's it—but the character of Madeline is surprisingly rich and interesting. This is not only a physical challenge for her, but an emotional and mental one as well. Without giving away too much, this is a game I can see resonating strongly with people who struggle with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. 

 

As I mentioned before, I purchased this on the Switch. It's available everywhere, but it's a perfect fit for Nintendo's portable/home console hybrid. It runs at a completely locked 60fps as you'd expect, and the pixel art style probably won't look any better on a PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, or a souped up PC. Plus, you have the added advantage of being able to play it on the go, which is awesome.

 

Oh, and as added bonus, the soundtrack is pretty killer as well.

 

Anyway, be sure to check it out and report back here in case you happen to buy it. I'd love to hear what others around here think of it.

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I want to play games like this.  But I'm pretty certain that they're just going to make me feel sad and inadequate.  I like games that can get hard a times.  But you gotta break it up with some progress that doesn't make me want to kill myself in real life because I'm killing myself in the game.  I loved Ori, and it got hard at times, really really hard, but most of the time it was just fun and all the exploration and beautiful graphics and metroidvania rewards made me happy.

 

But your endorsement is good, so I'll give it a shot.  But I'm 80% confident it will be a short experience after I quit in frustration.

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3 hours ago, foogledricks said:

But I'm 80% confident it will be a short experience after I quit in frustration.

 

For you, Keith, there’s an assist mode that will let you tune the settings in the game to make it easier if you like. 

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On 2/23/2018 at 1:29 PM, JFo said:

 

For you, Keith, there’s an assist mode that will let you tune the settings in the game to make it easier if you like. 

I cannot tell if you're being helpful or mocking me.  I beat the original NES Ninja Gaiden god damn it.   And the Xbox version.  Show some respect for your elders.

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20 hours ago, foogledricks said:

I cannot tell if you're being helpful or mocking me.

 

To be honest, I can’t tell either.

 

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I played the first chapter of this a couple hours ago. 150+ deaths... but I like it a lot more than Super Meat Boy.

 

I’m not sure why, the aesthetics are similar and they’re both damn hard. It might be the promise of the story or something, but I find it more charming and less noxious, even as I’m swearing my head off at it.

 

I have no reason to doubt Jeff’s earlier praise at this point and I really recommend it if you like this type of game.

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I actually still need to finish this game. I got sidetracked by some other titles and still have two more chapters to complete. I should get on that.

 

3 hours ago, Mark E said:

I’m not sure why, the aesthetics are similar and they’re both damn hard. It might be the promise of the story or something, but I find it more charming and less noxious, even as I’m swearing my head off at it.

 

I feel the same way. Super Meat Boy is fun and all, but I wouldn’t call the story or any of its characters relatable.

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And done! Well, sort of. I made it to the summit and "finished" the game but there's still a ton I could do if I were really motivated. I can go find all the strawberries, complete the B-sides (and C-sides), and a few other side quests but I think that's all the fun my poor thumbs can handle. Here's my final stats for those interested:

 

 

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I guess I lied. This game has pulled me back in and I’m in the process of gathering all the collectibles. So far I’ve collected all the strawberries and B-side cassettes through chapter 4. I also found the Crystal Heart on chapter 4. Some of these collectables are extremely well hidden, so I’ve resorted to YouTube to find them. I’ve not attempted any of the B-side levels yet though. I’m too scared. 😱 

 

It is fun to go back to the first few levels after completing the main quest. They seem so much easier now. I still die, of course, but I can really tell that my skills have improved greatly since I started playing it.

 

Interestingly, I’ve been playing the game in handheld mode on the Switch quite a bit these past few days. I would have thought that using the analog stick to move would have made the game harder, but it doesn’t (at least not for me). I think because the stick is shorter than the one on the Pro Controller, so it doesn’t have as much travel. It makes pulling off some of these difficult jumps a bit easier.

 

My thumbs still hurt though.

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Celeste Taught Fans And Its Own Creator To Take Better Care Of Themselves

 

Nathan Grayson, writing for Kotaku:

 

Quote

 

Thorson’s favorite response to the game’s story comes from Reddit. One player reached the part of the game where Madeline begins to reconcile with herself, only to find themselves feeling “left behind” by Madeline’s acceptance of her other side. They felt an intense connection to Madeline moments before, when she was berating herself and “beating” her inner demons into submission, but the game lost them after that. They made a lengthy post about it and ended by saying they weren’t sure if they could keep playing the game.

 

A week later, however, they returned with another post thanking the game and its players for giving them a new perspective on their mental health. “The idea of accepting Badeline left me dumb-founded,” the player, scrappythrowaway43, wrote. “You’re supposed to beat depression and anxiety, not accept it. But after last week, I realized that I clearly haven’t beaten my anxiety (if not my depression). Celeste and the helpful users from last week’s post gave me the perspective and push to try self-acceptance. And you know what? It’s not bullshit.”

 

 

You know a game is special when it can have this sort of impact on the people playing it.

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For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter, I've been posting a few recent videos of my attempts to finish the B-side levels. Here are a few for your pleasure:

 

 

Click the tweet to see all five videos I posted. I just finished the B-side of chapter 6 (the one featured in these videos) tonight. Only two more to go! Then I get to decide if I want to attempt the C-sides.

 

For the record, my wife thinks I'm crazy for playing this game.

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Just a quick reminder that Celeste is now available for free to all Xbox Live Gold members for the entire month of January.

 

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/celeste/bwmql2rpwbhb?activetab=pivot:overviewtab

 

If you haven't played it already, be sure to check it out. I know we all have gaming backlogs as long as from here to the moon and back, but at the very least, play the first chapter to get a feel for it. It shouldn't take more than a half hour of your time, and you'll get a good sense of what the game is like.

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If your Gamers' Club Unlocked subscription is still active, Best Buy will be carrying Celeste on the Switch, so you'll get a beefier discount and probably not have to pay for shipping.  Different cover art, though.

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I ordered the PS4 version. That seems to be selling out quickly as they are down to 15% of stock available.

 

Also, they’ll have Sundered up on 1/4. I’m all over that as well.

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If buying this one new, what platform would you guys recommend? I’m leaning towards Switch simply so I can play it on the TV and in bed at night but, Steam is cheaper and would be 4K, etc...

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I bounced off this immediately :)

 

I can totally see the why you dig it JFo, and even right from the beginning, it's clear there's a story with depth to it, but man, I have no interest in this sort of brutal platforming skill game any more. Totally a "it's not you, it's me" moment :) 

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15 hours ago, Magness said:

If buying this one new, what platform would you guys recommend? I’m leaning towards Switch simply so I can play it on the TV and in bed at night but, Steam is cheaper and would be 4K, etc...

 

The Switch version is good. It runs at a perfect 60fps, and looks great in both docked and handheld mode. I played a lot of this game in handheld mode and had a blast. If you're interested in playing it in bed, spend the extra money and go with that version.

 

10 hours ago, dogbert said:

I bounced off this immediately :)

 

I can totally see the why you dig it JFo, and even right from the beginning, it's clear there's a story with depth to it, but man, I have no interest in this sort of brutal platforming skill game any more. Totally a "it's not you, it's me" moment :) 

 

But if you quit now, you'll miss out on all the awesome stealth levels later on!

 

(Okay, there aren't any stealth levels, but I figured I'd just tell you that to mess with you.)

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I’m liking this so far. It’s very sweet. Great music too. I think the fact you have infinite lives reedeems it from being a hateful experience and leaves me more inclined to try, try again (which of course is presumably one of the points the game’s story is trying to make).

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One thing I forgot to post was that I did finally finish all of the B-side levels back in early November. Total death count by the time I completed the last level was 11,164.

 

I have not attempted any of the C-side levels yet. I'm not sure I'm going to.

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This was on my radar for a while, so getting it for free with gold was a nice bonus (I probably would have ended up with the Steam version eventually).  Started it last night since I needed something "smaller" after Nier, and holy crap is this game good.  Made it through the first two and a half chapters, and then spent an hour last night beating the Pico-8 version that I found in chapter 3. 

 

It definitely reminds me of Ori, and I suppose a little bit of Meat Boy, but also VVVVVV for some reason, even though the mechanics are pretty different.  At least three "aha" moments so far that seem like really clever design:

  • Realizing that the character's hair colour changes based on the dash status
  • Realizing that your dash recharges when changing screens
  • Realizing what the crystal things do (recharge your dash)
  • Realizing that the flying strawberries disappear when you dash

All things that I'm sure you could just lay out in exposition/tutorial text, but I appreciate letting players discover them for themselves.  It was neat seeing the prototype version in there, and how many of these things were in there from the beginning. 

 

Only thing I'm not completely on board with so far is the wall grab/climb.  It's just a little awkward holding the trigger to climb, although I think I'm starting to get a feel for it.  See how it pans out in later levels, since I gather there are several more chapters in the game. 

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Permanently holding down the climb trigger, and releasing when necessary, seems to work better for my brain than pressing it when needed. 

 

I’m deep into lvl3 as of my last save from Saturday. I’m really, really enjoying it.

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4 hours ago, ChrisBardon said:

See how it pans out in later levels, since I gather there are several more chapters in the game. 

 

Seven total to reach the summit with an eighth that can be unlocked if you collect the crystal hearts on each of the previous levels.

 

3 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

Permanently holding down the climb trigger, and releasing when necessary, seems to work better for my brain than pressing it when needed. 

 

I think this is what I did as well, but it's not always the best solution. There are times where I don’t want to grab onto a wall for whatever reason, and I have to remember to let go fo the button.

 

One thing nice about the Switch version is that the ZL and ZR buttons are just buttons and not analog triggers like on PS4 and Xbox One. You get the nice click-y feedback when you press them and you don’t have to squeeze them as much to activate the function. It seems like a better fit for this game.

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