With every major release in 2018, I plan on asking if it’s my personal game of the year. Every so often though, a game comes out that catches people by surprise and indie darling Celeste seems to be this year’s game. There’s also a game called Iconoclasts which I’m going to make sure I get to at some point this year as well, but for now, let’s focus on Celeste. As of now, Monster Hunter World sits on the throne for Game of The Year. Two challengers have approached and they have all failed, but is Celeste the game that will reach the top of the mountain? Get it? The game is about reaching the top of a mountain and I said… never mind.
Celeste is a game filled with memorable characters, a beautiful art style, fantastic music, an interesting narrative, and for someone like myself, one of the hardest gameplay styles I’ve ever come across. The truth of the matter is, I’m not that great at platformers. I’ve spent years trying to play games like Mega Man or Shovel Knight, but I simply can’t because I’m awful at them. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely loved the first half of Celeste. I actually found the gameplay to be rather easy and thought that maybe I had finally turned the corner on platformers of this style. Maybe my brain had finally developed in such a way that I had mastered the platformers. I thought this until the game added the challenge of things like needing to bounce of off specific platforms to jump higher and wind. The wind, in particular, was really rough. As of now, I’m in the beginning stages of the 4th level, from what I can tell there are 8 stages in total, and I’ve currently died 509 times. I know this because the game is nice enough to keep count for me. As I said, the difficulty is only ramping up. To give you an example of what I mean, in level 2 I died 52 times and in level 3 I died 269 times. I’ve already hit 105 with Level 4 and I’m not sure how much longer I’ve got but by the looks of things, I’m aiming to set a new personal record.
Oddly enough, as I make my way through Celeste, I’ve been reminded of one of my favorite games of all-time, Bastion. Bastion, if you’re not aware, is another indie title that has a beautiful art style, great characters, and in my opinion, a fantastic story. Since it’s release in 2011, I’ve had several conversations with people who have all agreed that the game looks amazing and that they really want to like it but the gameplay just isn’t for them. That’s unfortunately where I find myself with Celeste. I want to love this game like everyone else seems to but unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem like it’s my type of game. With that being said though because the game is so well made, I actually find myself relating more and more to the character as I go on.
From the amount of story I’ve managed to find throughout the game, Madeline, the game’s main protagonist, suffers from anxiety and self-doubt. She’s a flawed character that’s climbing this mountain so that she can prove to herself (in some ways, quite literally) that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. There’s a specific scene where Madeline’s mother tells her to relax and take a deep breath, to not be overwhelmed by everything and whether it was the intention of the developers or not, that moment has really helped me while making my way through this game. So many times I’ve found myself frustrated that I was unable to land a specific jump and then I remember that scene and that’s what I do. I stop, take a deep breath, and push on, just like Madeline.
Clearly, I’m not the right person to review this game, but then again, maybe I am. Like I’ve said, I really struggle with these types of games but because of everything that Celeste offers, I still want to continue pushing through. Even when I’m frustrated with the difficulty of the game, I still want to get to the next screen so I can see what the game has to offer next. It may be my personal game of the year, but for someone who’s a fan of this style of game, I can certainly see why. I’ve heard some compare it Super Meat Boy, while others have dared to call it Mario-esque, either way, if you’re looking for a challenging platformer that brings something special to the table, you won’t go wrong giving Celeste a chance.
Final Score: 8 (No Ragrets)