Celeste. Yes, it’s about time we did this. The renowned precision platformer from Extremely OK Games has been out for approximately three years now (Celeste was released on Jan. 25, 2018, hence the three-year anniversary,) and it has not lost its charm. And why would it?
The game sold over a million copies by the end of 2019. Whether you’re hanging out in your game room or playing on your Switch en destination, this is the kind of pick-up-and-go game dreams is made of. You’ll have to pardon me as I haphazardly introduce a game that’s been out for three years! I’m compelled to share my heart with you on this one though. So, let’s do it. Let’s talk, Celeste. I’ll cover “Farewell” a little bit as well.
What is Celeste?
Let me introduce you to what Celeste is about. It is a precision platformer–a genre that involves jumping and grabbing from wall to wall to solve puzzle areas. The main character, contrary to what you might expect, is actually named Madeline. It is the mountain she is climbing is named Celeste.
The levels in Celeste are an assortment of single-frame rooms, where the exit is in sight, but you will have to figure out how to make the layout to get there using your limited abilities (it’s kind of like rock climbing.) You can temporarily use powerups like diamonds or space squares to complete otherwise impossible tasks. You can also collect strawberries, however, it is mostly “for bragging rights.” The design and aesthetic are very satiating and warm but are often fleeting and temporary–intentionally. The music is absolutely awesome, and the soundtrack itself is purchasable outside the game if you want to enjoy that.
Falling on spikes, in a hole, or getting crushed are your worst enemies. You’ll never, for certain, get totally stuck, and respawning is almost instant, though people have described the game as incredibly difficult. It’s more than that though, it’s a difficult game that everybody can play. In fact, there are several accessibility options in Celeste, that make it quite approachable.
First impressions. The main thing I like about Celeste is, as I mentioned, it is extremely accessible. You may think because I play so many games here that I am necessarily good at them, haha. Contrarily, the first time I saw somebody playing Celeste, I thought: I could never play that, and why would I? Settling into the first level though, I knew I could do it, and I realized why this game has such a broad audience.
Weathered indie and retro players realize that 2D pixel art is one of the many blessings of games like this. Playing Celeste feels personal, so it doesn’t get tiring playing for extended periods. It is easily started and set aside very easily as well. It’s easy to save the game and it takes moments to start up again. It’s not a resource-demanding game, but everything is very crisp and works smoothly, jubilantly if you will.
I don’t know that Celeste particularly reminds me of anything, but the cut scenes are cute and enjoyable, and it feels like something that has always existed somewhere in my heart, or at least in a coveted game collection.
Celeste: “Farewell” Expansion, Free DLC
In 2019, Extremely OK Games came out with a DLC for Celeste called “Farewell.” It is the 11th and final chapter of the story. People have called it the longest and hardest chapter of Celeste, and I can only imagine so. The expansion adds an additional four hours to the game. The whole game with Farewell included is about 50-52 hours of gameplay. So, if you want an extreme amount of value for a game, it is here. Most endeavors requiring that much dedication are debilitating, but Celeste is just a large pie by the bonfire if you keep questioning and trying. (By the way, this game is great to play year-round due to the seasonal/mountain climates of the game.) Anyway, you can always turn on Assist mode if you get stuck!
In the meantime, take a leap of faith and hold on, there’s not much else to say about Celeste, or maybe there’s so much to say about Celeste it simply can’t be said clearer. Either way, the game has proven itself here. Currently, this is my number one recommendation amongst indies, so please accept my genuine endorsement, and thank you to the developers for making this incredible game.
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Also, as a note, Extremely OK Games is working on a new game called Earthblade. There is not a lot of information on it, but I suspect it has a platformer nature.