Celeste Reviews

  • RadicalSniper99RadicalSniper992,172,424
    06 Jan 2019
    29 2 5
    This review is going to be split into two main parts. I think the discussion around this game will likely need to split between the game itself and assist mode. And this won't be some kind moment where I scream down from a high point about how "only scrubs use assist mode". I want this to be an objective and possibly editorial type look at it. But first, a basic review of the game.

    Celeste is another game that hearkens back to the days to simpler graphics (with a beautiful edge to them). It's what has become known as "Hi-Bit" for the fact that no game from the 8/16-bit era could have looked or sounded this amazing. And that's where I'm going to start. The graphics.

    Celeste's graphics are beautiful. Regardless of how you feel about bit style games in the days of Xbox One, Celeste has a vibrant color palette and detailed environments and character sprites that clearly show you the environment around. Nothing is obfuscated or unclear. Each of the levels has its own distinct feel and motif. And part of this really goes into the gameplay and the specific obstacles you'll face in each level. Each one becomes a showcase for new mechanics the game expects you to learn or understand.

    From World 2 onward (World 1 being a bit of a tutorial), the environments have their own feel. World 2 has the blocks of other dimensional energy that you dash through while World 4 introduces you to bouncy clouds. It all has its own flavor.

    So how about controls? Well as a 2D Platformer, Celeste nails this part of game design. So many classic platformer style games seem to miss this. Inconsistencies or feeling like it isn't crisp seems to be so common anymore. Luckily, Celeste doesn't have this problem. While the game is difficult, you never really can blame the game for mistakes. It comes down to you mastering the jump/dash/climb abilities (among many other "hidden" mechanics).

    The game has multiple levels of challenge and difficulty to it. Besides the main 7 chapters, the game has collectibles for the more daring players. Strawberries are littered around the levels as well as Cassette Tapes and Crystal Hearts. The tapes unlock B-sides of levels. B-Sides are harder versions of the levels which will test your skill while sometimes introducing even harder mechanics. There are even C-sides (which I haven't reached yet). These are very short levels, but will be true final tests of your ability.

    This brings us to a sort of editorial portion of the review. Why so soon? Because the story, the controls, and the oft-discussed assist mode all go into this and are very interrelated.

    So what is Assist Mode? In it's plainest terms, it allows you to change the game mechanics to better suit your ability. There are four options here:

    1) Game Speed - You can reduce the game speed in increments of 10% (down to 50% speed) to make the harder stuff easier to execute.
    2) Infinite Dash - Instead of just 1 (and later 2) dashes, you can dash continuously without the need to touch ground and recharge it.
    3) Infinite Stamina - Similar to dash, you can grip walls infinitely without needing to touch ground to recharge your stamina
    4) Invincibility - Spikes, pits, projectiles (Really anything) can't kill you anymore.

    (Short aside - there is one part of the game where Assist Mode is completely disabled, the Pico-8. It's a little game console type version of the game. There is no assist mode for this particular achievement.)

    Overall, this is a great idea. I don't fault the developers for creating it or people who have trouble with the game for using it. It's a difficult game. The mode is not for me, and my play time through Celeste will reflect that. At this point, I've completed Chapters 1 through 7, B-Sides for Chapters 1 through 4, and collected numerous strawberries, cassette tapes, and crystal hearts. My play time is already at 12 hours. I've died thousands of times to do this. For those of you checking TA, you might see a time estimate of 6-8 hours for the game. Why? It's assist mode. It really does shorten it all. And best of all for achievement hunters, it doesn't disable achievements.

    So why does this matter? Why is it contentious when people talk about Celeste? Who really should care about this?

    This brings us to the story of Celeste. Celeste is all about Madeline. She's the heroine of our adventure. Her goal is to climb the Mountain called Celeste. Without trying to spoil the inner workings of the story, the game deals with anxiety, depression, and motivation of our characters. Questioning our own motives and ability and overcoming what stands before us. And this is where the story and assist mode begin to overlap (at least in my opinion).

    If games are about having us experience some story and allowing us to live vicariously through something, does Assist Mode give us that? It toes a very fine line. I can't say when or what level of assists blurs or destroys the line, but it changes the game. I've heard people turn on all the assists at the beginning (except game speed) and never experiencing the game without Infinite Dash, Stamina, and Invincibility on. And really, are people experiencing the same game anymore? Does this still let you feel the challenge of Madeline and confronting her demons?

    Let me say this again though, I don't begrudge people who want to turn assists on. I'm under no illusion that this game is hard. I don't want to bar off this story and experience to others. Instead, I think what people should see is a mix. Play the game. See what happens. Test your skill. Push yourself. If the game is giving you difficulty, I think the assist to really use is Game Speed. I think what really tests people most is their ability to do stuff quick enough. So starting with Game Speed in many cases will help people with issues of reflex and thinking quickly enough. After this, maybe other assists. But I think that's the really important one that can make this game accessible to more people without losing the experience.

    Additionally, I want to talk shortly about the game's ability to teach you. Why put this in with the discussion about Assist Mode? Because there are many abilities and tech to the game necessary to find some of the crystal hearts and finishing B/C-side versions of the levels. I'll give one example here that really was cool, but minor:

    During Chapter 2, the Crystal Heart is in an area that most people would never find (I didn't notice it my first time through the level). There is a ledge to climb up that easily looks inaccessible. But there is a way to get there. What you need to do is find out that screen transitions restore your dash. So you'll be zippering up and down a screen transition until you can eventually grip a wall to begin your climb up. And that's just one of these moments (and a simple one at that).

    But as you might have picked up on, you'll never see that with all the assists on. And that's why I discuss this all together.

    Once again, this review won't try to tell you to do Celeste a certain or definitive way or that you must never use Assist Mode. Instead, I want to present the game for what it is. What the developer created and the passionate way they intended for the game to be experienced (if you read the warning when you turn on assist mode, you'll get what I mean). I realize this is an achievement community and what many of us are here for, but this review presents the other side.

    Whichever way you play this game though, Celeste is truly an amazing experience and one of the best platformers currently available on the Xbox One. With it currently being Games with Gold for January 2019 at the time of writing, I can't say enough the value and why you should all play this.
    5.0
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    RadicalSniper99Thank you for the kind words. Celeste is the real deal when it comes to platformers. I've played some pretty bad ones in the last year. Celeste was one of if not the best of them.
    Posted by RadicalSniper99 On 07 Jan 19 at 04:49
    MCASguruThanks for the honest and insightful review of this game. I'm glad Assist Mode is a thing; now I can play and enjoy this beautiful game, rather than avoid it. My reflexes and hands aren't what they used to be (getting old is tough).
    Posted by MCASguru On 08 Jan 19 at 16:49
    RadicalSniper99Thanks. I agree about Assist Mode. I know it's been a contentious element for achievement hunters and I will firmly believe that playing without it is "better", but it's great that so many people get to experience the game still. And really, what you're describing really makes me believe "Game Speed" might be the best way for you to enjoy it at least to start while still giving yourself the normal game experience. Enjoy!
    Posted by RadicalSniper99 On 08 Jan 19 at 17:01
  • derektwopointohderektwopointoh1,314,439
    01 Aug 2018
    18 3 8
    How do you make a platforming game stand out amongst the multitude of similar games? Everything about this game's design was executed in a manner that makes it unique in an already oversaturated genre. I've been playing this type of game since Super Mario in the days of NES and there's still no shortage of them, even now.

    The first thing I noticed about Celeste was something that tends to get overlooked in most games of any genre...basic functionality. By that I mean how the game saves your progress, tracks your efforts and organizes its menus. Quite possibly the best save system I've ever seen in a video game, it allows you to save your progress at any point and return to that exact area at a later time. Most games require checkpoints and said checkpoints aren't usually spaced very well. For once I didn't have to worry about finishing up a level before my son's nap ended. I simply selected "Save and Exit", making it as easy as placing a bookmark in a novel. The menus were very organized and easy to navigate, save for one missing feature. My only complaint was that the level selection screen didn't include chapter numbers next to the chapter icons, which can be easily forgiven by the fact that clicking on any icon readily shows you the chapter number, as well as the many stats for that chapter. Plus there are only eight chapters, not including a prologue and epilogue, so it's easy to figure out which icon to click on at a glance. The game itself, while playing, also offers a collectible tracker at the bottom of the screen, making it not only easy to determine how many strawberries you have left to collect in each chapter, but also to track how many are left in each section of the chapter. Players will find this tracker invaluable as they go back to collect every last piece of fruit for that sweet, sweet achievement.

    The next obvious thing to address is the gameplay itself. Most of the game consists of jumping and dashing your way through Metroidvania style levels, albeit in a fairly linear direction. Your objective is to get to the top of the mountain, with each chapter taking you to a higher elevation. At one point you find yourself in a mysterious, cluttered hotel, so there's no lack of variety between one chapter and the next. By far, the absolutely coolest feature of Celeste (for me anyway) was Assist Mode. Turning on this mode allows you to enable unlimited dashes (you typically get one at a time and have to dash into powerups to get more), unlimited stamina, and invincibility. By including this feature, the developer has ensured that everyone can enjoy the game's beautiful story, as well as the incredibly rewarding gameplay and progression. This mode is highly criticized by some people because they feel it deprives you of the true essence and challenge of the game but I wholeheartedly disagree. Playing with this mode enabled certainly reduces the difficulty but still leaves the game with a decent amount of challenge and in no way makes for a boring or overly simple game. Personally, I'm not very good at this type of platforming and wouldn't have gotten very far in the main story. This would've been a travesty and I'm proud of my "easy way out" in this game. So whether you're not good at platforming or just get frustrated easily and don't care much for difficult challenges, Assist Mode is crucial to your enjoyment of this game. Just from playing it all with Assist Mode, however, I was still able to understand and appreciate the game's intended difficulty. So I don't feel like I missed out on anything (except perhaps a rage induced controller throw).

    The story of Celeste builds upon itself and tells of a young woman's journey to conquer her own negative emotions. At least that's how I interpreted it. You play as Madeline, who's dealing with some unspecified personal troubles and isn't even quite sure why she feels the need to conquer the mountain. You'll meet some colorful characters along the way, including one or two rather unexpected enemies. The story's pacing is superbly done and is accompanied by delightfully appropriate music. In the past year or so, game developers have often been dealing with the issues of mental health in a positive way. This game brings to light the struggle of dealing with depression and anxiety (among other issues) and does so in a wonderful way that I found to be very uplifting. As someone who's been afflicted by these issues for most of my life, I not only identified with the main character's journey but also greatly appreciated it. Celeste deals with these topics in a graceful and positive manner and does so while taking you on a fun and worthwhile journey.

    Last but not least are those sweet, sweet achievements that some of us devour like the collectible strawberries in the game. Most of the achievements are tied to simply completing each chapter or collecting a heart in each one. Unlocking the bonus levels, or B-Sides as the game calls them, requires finding a hidden cassette tape in each chapter. These tapes and hearts unlock the B-Sides, as well as further bonus levels called C-Sides. Fortunately, collectibles in this game never get too challenging or monotonous. One achievement requires you to collect six strawberries in a row without touching the ground, which I found difficult during my initial playthrough but it only took me two tries after finishing the campaign. Another achievement requires you to play a minigame that's unlocked by finding a secret room in one of the chapters. Once you unlock it, you can play it from the main menu at anytime. This retro-style minigame tasks you with climbing through several rooms in order to get to the top of the mountain. It requires you to do it all in one sitting and it's basically a simplified emulation of the main game. It doesn't allow you to enable Assist Mode, so it's definitely the biggest challenge of the game for those of us who need the reduction in difficulty. Each time you die, you simply start at the beginning of the tiny room and try that room's puzzle again.

    Celeste is the most enjoyable game I've played so far this year and definitely a contender for my Game of the Year. If you like a challenge, this game provides a unique and fun way to test your platforming skills. If you're like me and just want to navigate your way through this character's journey, Assist Mode is your new best friend. No matter which type of gamer you are, this will likely be one of the most memorable and worthwhile games you'll play for some time.
    4.5
  • AdayinAdayin589,067
    14 Feb 2021 15 Feb 2021
    1 1 2
    This game gets a lot of accolades, so I gave it a try. I regretted that about an hour in.

    I'm not going to lie, I ended up using the "Assist Mode" to complete this game. And the fact that "Assist Mode" exists and is practically required for a completion that doesn't require months of study to "learn" the game is why I scored it so low.

    There are two parts to (almost) any game: story, and gameplay. Usually they're related. Celeste is no different. Its gameplay is directly tied to its story. However, there is barely any story, and what little there is quickly gets overpowered by the gameplay itself.

    This is a platformer. Platformers are about the platforming mechanics. Most good platformers give even the slightest bit of leeway when it comes to where the character can be on screen to make it to the next platform, with a few more challenging areas that are usually reserved for side quests or collectibles that don't impede progress in the main story. Celeste flips that almost entirely around. You have to be damned near pixel-perfect 99% of the time, or you will die and have to replay the entire current scene/screen/room over. Collectibles are often easier to reach than the end of the current room. Which means you have to constantly recollect the collectible until you make it out, because that progress isn't saved until you make it to the next room.

    Yes, you can save and quit and anytime and come right back to that room. But it's disheartening to play the same 10 seconds over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and

    ............................................................................

    over and over and over and over... Think you get the picture yet?

    Trust me. You don't.

    "Brutal" doesn't begin to describe how twitchy this game forces the player to be. There are platforms that, once you land on or touch them, will launch you directly into spikes or some other insta-kill-auto-room-restart hazard. Not like other games where they launch you at the death trap and you just have to move in the correct direction at the apex. No, this game literally launches you directly into a trap, which you will hit if you do nothing. You then have to move in the correct direction at the absolute perfect timing, while also suddenly shooting across the screen at ludicrous speed. And if you don't shift the controller absolutely perfectly to the next direction, the game will not read the direction with which your controller most lines up. It will be an absurd interpretation that one hair off DIRECTLY to the right means you wanted to jump up and to the right. Which throws you into another trap. No, not the one the platform launched you into. One of the 8 you'll fly past on your to that one. And then you die. And then you repeat the current scene. For the 80th time.

    And it's not like there's one of these traps per scene. No no no. That would be too easy. There's like 10 of them, just to move from scene to scene. Even with assist mode on and infinite air dashes and invincibility to move through hazards, some of these scenes just keep going and going.

    And when you do manage to make it through the hazards, you have to be *perfect*. This isn't like Ori - or others of its ilk - where you have fairly open spaces between 95% of the insta-kill spikes. Nope. In Celeste, you have pretty much the width of the main character. Off by a pixel, or breathe on the controller the wrong way while air-dashing through a hazard, or adjust your direction slightly too soon for the super-twitchy next thing you have to do, and right back to the beginning of the room for another try over.

    *** Spoiler - click to reveal ***


    I tried playing through the game without assist mode. The first stage alone was miserable. I'm not a professional-level gamer, but I'm also not bad at games. This game made me feel like I didn't know what to do with the hunk of button-covered plastic in my hands.

    And I suppose that's the point. Without getting into spoilers, this is a game about the main character's inner turmoil. Literally bringing out her inner demons to haunt her as she attempts to climb Mt. Celeste. The main character has to overcome her insecurities and find inner peace in order to reach the top. This was one of many games to try to ride the wave of games dealing with mental health. And while that part of the story is definitely touching and endearing, the game's developers seemed to have wanted to hammer home that same kind of despair and insecurity into the gamer themself.

    There are going to be gamers that like that. But they are a vast minority of gamers. For a game intended to deal with the critical social issue of mental health, you should be targeting a wider audience. Such a game's mechanics should make it broadly accessible. But this game is not fun. Not for me. And I like a challenge. I enjoy challenges. I don't enjoy games that make me play the same 10 seconds over and over and over until I've master that one part for a single instant if my life before moving on to the next repeated 10 seconds to master. I don't tend to replay many games, so that's not a skill set or knowledge I'll use again. It doesn't represent a challenge. That level of mastery is a college degree. It's a job. I have both already, I don't need another of either. So no. That's not fun. I don't want to spend months learning a game just to get to its end. I want to spend months actually playing a game that's actually fun to actually play because I learned the mechanics early on and they were fun and I can put them to use doing things I enjoy. I don't want to die repeatedly in quick bursts before I've committed to memory the exact angles I need to jump and dash to avoid moving obstacles that will still hit me and make me do it all over and over. Dying a lot in a game is not a mechanic. It's torture.

    At the beginning of each level you get a postcard that has a "tip" on it. One of the levels literally tells you to "embrace your death count because dying more means you're learning." WTF?

    I mean... seriously. WTAF? Do these game developers not think I have better things to do with my life than study the same single-window scene for half an hour before I can move on? Because I do. I have lots better to do. And I want to do them.

    I did just that. I played this game for an hour, got pay the first stage and into the second and decided its hype was thoroughly undeserved. The only reason i came back and finished it was because I saw the TA walkthrough, popped it open to see if I'd missed something obvious that made the game playable, and it started with "turn on assist mode". I'd somehow missed that in my initial attempt.

    I turned it on, blasted through the game, and got to know the main character. The story is definitely touching. But there's not nearly enough of it to justify the difficulty level and replays necessary to move from each tiny sliver of story to the next. You get little drops of text at some key moments, a few glimmers of insight into the main character. But even blasting through the game with assist mode, the story takes all of 10 minutes of your 8 hours of playtime, and that's only if you exhaust literally every dialog option with every NPC.

    And then there's the arbitrariness of some of its mechanics. It's 2D so you can jump up through platforms. But for some reason, you can't jump right back down. What game lets you jump up through a physical barrier but not back down? The kind that's designed to make you replay an entire chapter over just for the collectibles. The entire purpose of not being able to jump back down seems to be to keep you from being able to go back to some screens with tricky-to-get collectibles (ie: strawberries). This is maddening beyond belief. I can't stress that enough.

    I also cannot stress enough just how hard I find it to even imagine trying to play some scenes of this game without assist mode on. Like the boss scenes where you apparently have to bounce through spikes, while y'know, playing the actual platforming pieces of an actual platformer while a boss hurls 2D attacks at you that pass through barriers and still hit you. Scenes that go on and on and on, from screen to screen, dragging on with the same tired platforming over and over seemingly forever. Get to the end of like the 8th part, thinking "surely this is it!" only to have yet another part to do. Even with assist mode and infinite dashes and invincibility on, some of these scenes were too long. Like, boringly repetitive. With invincibility. Drag-om scenes with crappy, twitchy mechanics, and very little reward at the end. And, sorry, but that means the game is definitively not good..

    If the game designers had put half the time they put into designing asinine, drag-on levels into fleshing out the actual story, or making longer but slightly easier levels, Celeste would have been a lot better. But the little bits of story you get just aren't worth the punishment.

    Unless you're into that. If you are, more power to you. Also, I have a set of clamps you might enjoy more than I did.
    2.5
  • ChoraGretaChoraGreta3,806
    13 Sep 2022
    0 3 0
    Being a gamer, being a gamer, have you ever wondered what it's like to be a gamer? Have you ever wondered what video games taught you to take into your life? Or have you never stopped to think about it? After all, it's hours and hours that we dedicate to them, many hours of our days and our lives. If you are good observers, you will notice that they have many things to teach us, to inspire us.

    What have games taught you? What is being a gamer? I tell you.

    Games taught me that when you encounter enemies along the way, it means you are heading in the right direction. If you really want a happy ending, you're going to have to fight hard to get it. As much as you are stressed, worried, full of problems, you need to stop and listen, because wise is the one who listens more and talks less, because he learns what he hears and transmits these teachings in his eyes. There is no such thing as weaker sex. Games taught me that we can make mistakes many times and that problems will accumulate, but if we are patient and don't give up, successes make them disappear like magic. Be proud of the things you make, the things you build, even if people say it didn't look so pretty, looks aren't everything. The games taught me that war... war never changes. That every choice has consequences, not just for you, but for the world and everyone around you. That villains are usually villains for a reason and that in the eyes of some, they are right and are the true heroes. The games taught me that pain is terrible, but it is a guide for us to become stronger and stronger. That dying is sad, but if it's for the right reasons and protecting the people you love, that's fine. Everybody needs love. Even if love is a pain. Betrayal only exists because it comes from those we least expect. The games even taught me the definition of insanity. That you don't have to be of the same blood, race or species to be of the same family. Don't make a promise to a woman if you can't keep it. Rivalry does not mean enmity. If you truly love a person, you just want to see them happy, even if they take all the credit for something you helped. The obstacle can be gigantic, and seem impossible, we can try and fail several times, but with each attempt, comes learning, with learning, comes improvement, and with improvement, comes overcoming, and that bogeyman will not exist most. That the journey in many cases is worth more than the final reward.

    There are people who think that video games isolate people, make them antisocial, in 2009 I was just a kid with an xbox 360, with 300 stories to tell, which I shared with half a dozen friends, when I got on the internet, I was only one, and today, we are 3 million! 3 million talking about games, all games. And you're telling me that video games don't bring people together?

    Videogames bring people together. Teach. entertain. de-stress. And it offers temporary joy to many people who can't get out of the virtual world, because the world itself only pushes them down.

    Video games are not responsible for murder, they are not responsible for low grades in school, and they are not a waste of time. If you think like that, you're wrong!

    Being a gamer is living many lives instead of just one. Being a gamer is enjoying embracing your moments alone or even squandering your competitive side. I'm gamer. I've always been. I will always be. Sit down, get comfortable, press start, go. Big hugs to all of you young people. All the best ever. Thank you so much for everything, heh, we are 3 million
    .5