Celeste: For the last 10 years, there have been many releases in the pixel-perfect platforming genre of computer games. At best, these games offer intelligently designed levels that don’t make you want to smash your head through the wall. These games often attempt to pad themselves out with collectibles and secrets. That can give the player a terrible feeling of anxiety that you will consistently miss something.
What is amazing about Celeste, the new game format foreseen and its collaborators are that it manages to pack in so much emotion and story. But still maintain the challenging and occasionally masochistic level design over the course of 600 screens. This is the game you need to have on your Nintendo Switch or the other consoles.
From the start, you will realize that this is not your typical tough platforming game. It also features a huge injection of character. Just the first conversation you have with the old woman combined with the lively avatar screens and chirpy voices, you will instantly start to understand your character, Madeleine and want to see her succeed despite that old woman sassy attitude.
Upon going through the first chapter you are introduced to the game space of mechanics. Even you can double jump, dash, wall jump, clink to a wall and climb. Well, first these mechanics can be used pretty loosely. The game slowly expects you to master these concepts. Each chapter has different main gameplay gimmick but you are always expected to have a firm understanding on how to play the clever way. The game teaches you these controls to try to collect the strawberries found throughout the game. They are almost always out of the way and require you to approach an obstacle differently. They take it even a step further with the winged strawberries. These are the areas where if you use your double jump or dash ability the strawberry will fly away. Of course, if you leave the level and come back, it will reappear.
The brilliance of this particular collectible is that it requires you to take a step back and look at the mobility options you have beyond the dash and double jump. Sadly, beyond better teaching you the game, the strawberries offer no real benefit to the end game. Luckily, the game is a front with you about this fact is one of the game’s hint postcards you see in between levels strawberries are just meant for bragging rights according to the game. While these collectables may not have any specific effect on the outcome of the game but hunting these strawberries can discover many different areas in each chapter. Some of the game’s most enjoyable challenges come from finding these fruits so it is not recommended to ignore them outright. It is nice that you are not punished for being unable to find them all.
Effects of collectibles.
Now let’s talk about the collectibles that do affect the game. Throughout each chapter, you will come across cassette tapes that unlock the b-side version of that chapter. These b-side levels are a nightmare version of the standard level progression for people looking for or expecting an insane challenge their platforms. Since they are based on the specific chapter, they aren’t always about pixel-perfect platforming but more so, building on the gimmick of the chapter and pushing it much further.
What’s really impressive about Celeste and its level design is that no matter how difficult it gets. You will always feel that you could see the solution to the stage just by looking at. Oftentimes with games like this, you will feel that you need to die hundreds of time, till you finally discover the solution. And then maybe you have to die 100 more times just trying to execute it. The other part of these B-side levels is that you don’t have to worry about collecting strawberries or discovering secrets. You just have to focus on just finishing the difficult task. When you finish the chapter you never have to do it again unless you hate yourself. The only issue with b-side stages is that since they are so difficult they often made the normal versions of the level seem way to easy.
There are actually four different ways to play Celeste. Each is interesting in its own way. You can simply play the game for its story. You can play it as a completionist attempting to find every strawberry and secret and to beat every b-side. The player can even approach the game as a speed runner using an optional speedrun mode clock to track your time. Finally, if you struggle to approach the game from any of these directions you can use the assist mode which allows you to change the game in a few ways to make it more accessible. While all four of these options will give you an overall enjoyable experience. Speedrunners maybe a bit disappointed that there is no way to compare your chapter completion time. Overall Celeste has nice visual graphics and music. You will definitely enjoy this game.
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