Celeste (video game)

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Celeste
Celeste box art final.png
Developer(s)Matt Makes Games
Publisher(s)Matt Makes Games
Director(s)Maddy Thorson
Designer(s)Maddy Thorson
Programmer(s)
  • Maddy Thorson
  • Noel Berry
Artist(s)
Writer(s)Maddy Thorson
Composer(s)Lena Raine
EngineXNA
Platform(s)
ReleaseJanuary 25, 2018
Genre(s)Platform
Mode(s)Single-player

Celeste is a platforming video game by Canadian video game developers Maddy Thorson and Noel Berry, with art by the Brazilian studio MiniBoss.[1] The game was originally created as a prototype in four days during a game jam, and later expanded into a full release. Celeste was released in January 2018 on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, macOS, and Linux, with a 2020 release on Google Stadia. A DLC chapter entitled "Farewell" was released on September 9, 2019.[2]

Gameplay[edit]

In this screenshot, the player-character, Madeline, is seen dashing mid-air towards an item that replenishes the dash ability in Forsaken City.

Celeste is a platform game in which players control a girl named Madeline as she makes her way up a mountain while avoiding various deadly obstacles. Along with jumping and climbing up walls for a limited amount of time, Madeline has the ability to perform a mid-air dash in the eight cardinal and intercardinal directions. This move can only be performed once and must be replenished by either landing on the ground, hitting certain objects such as replenishing crystals, or moving to a new screen (although the player is granted a second dash later on in the game). Throughout each level, the player will encounter additional mechanics, such as springs that launch the player or feathers that allow brief flight, and deadly objects such as spikes which kill Madeline (returning her to the start of the room).

Players can also access an Assist Mode, where they can change some attributes about the game's physics. Some of these include: infinite air-dashes, invincibility, or slowing the game's speed. Hidden throughout most "A-Side" chapters of the game are optional strawberries, obtained through challenging platforming or puzzle solving sections, which slightly affect the game's ending depending on how many are collected, as well as a cassette tape that unlocks a "B-Side", which provides harder platforming puzzles using the mechanics introduced in the A-Side. Optional "crystal hearts" used to access post-game content are also found in each A-side. Beating all the B-Sides then unlocks the "C-Side" versions, which are very hard but short stages which expand further upon the mechanics in the A- and B-Sides. B-Sides, C Sides, and the Farewell, DLC chapter. All teach the player more complicated movement techniques that are needed to clear otherwise impossible obstacles. Upon clearing all C-Sides, the player can access the Variants menu, which allows players to change the game's physics in a way similar to the game's Assist Mode. Some of these "variants" include: speeding the game up, 360 degree dashing, and low friction. These serve to make the game both more challenging and fun. The original Celeste Classic Pico-8 prototype can also be found as a hidden minigame.[3][4]

Plot[edit]

A young woman named Madeline begins climbing Celeste Mountain, ignoring a warning from an old woman, named Granny (or Celia in the final chapter), who lives at the base. Madeline makes her way through a deserted city, where she can meet with a fellow traveler named Theo. Madeline camps out for the night and has a dream in which a dark reflection of herself, named Badeline, breaks out of a mirror, and attempts to stop Madeline's climb, but Madeline escapes from her and wakes up from her nightmare.

Madeline continues into an old hotel on the mountain, where the hotel's ghostly concierge, Mr. Oshiro, tries to persuade Madeline to stay despite the dingy condition of the hotel. She reluctantly entertains him by cleaning part of the resort, but he is keen on having her stay for a night. This leads to Badeline reappearing and creating an escape for Madeline, but insulting Oshiro in the process, enraging him. He chases Madeline out, and Madeline continues the climb.

After traveling through the Golden Ridge, Madeline meets up with Theo at a gondola. Badeline appears again and stalls the lift, giving Madeline a panic attack. Theo calms her down, and the gondola moves again, arriving at an ancient temple. Theo ends up separated and trapped inside a mirror. Later, Theo gets encased in a magic crystal and monsters given form from Madeline and Theo’s insecurities attack them. She finds Theo and frees him from the crystal. Madeline then carries Theo out of the temple.

After breaking Theo's crystal and escaping from the temple, Madeline and Theo set up camp. Madeline tells Theo about the reflection and confides in him about her mental health issues before resting. During the night, she seeks out Badeline and expresses her wishes to leave it behind. This angers Badeline, and forces Madeline to plummet down to the base of the mountain. Stuck in a cave at the bottom of the mountain, Madeline meets the old woman again, who suggests that Badeline might be scared and says that Madeline should try talking instead of abandoning it.

Madeline searches for Badeline again, apologizes for pushing it away and vows to climb the mountain together. Badeline initially lashes out at Madeline, but relents and forgives her. Badeline and Madeline merge together, and they work their way back up the mountain, before finally reaching the summit.

An epilogue shows Madeline celebrating her success with her friends by eating strawberry pie. The pie will contain more or less strawberries depending on how many the player collected throughout the game.

In two post-ending chapters, Madeline explores the core of Celeste Mountain a year after the main story in the chapter "Core", and copes with missing the funeral of Granny, now known as Celia, in the chapter "Farewell".

Development and release[edit]

Noel Berry (Skytorn) and Maddy Thorson (TowerFall) created a prototype of Celeste in four days during a game jam, now named Celeste Classic. The result was a difficult platformer with 30 levels for the Pico-8 fantasy video game console designed for speedrunning and precision reflexes. Kill Screen noted that the game was a departure from Thorson's TowerFall, and had more in common with the game mechanics of their older games and Super Mario Maker work.[5] The developers also took inspiration from difficult NES and Super Nintendo-era platformers, such as Super Mario Bros. 3.[6][7] Berry and Thorson developed the game into a standalone release with over 200 rooms spread between eight chapters.[8] They livestreamed parts of their development process on Twitch. The game was also demoed at the 2016 PAX West Indie Megabooth.[9] Celeste released on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, Linux and macOS on January 25, 2018. [10][11] The game was later released on Google Stadia on July 28, 2020.[12] The original Pico-8 prototype is included in the game as an unlockable minigame.[13] The game received a limited collector's edition on January 1, 2019.[14] On September 9, 2019, Chapter 9: Farewell was released, adding 100 new levels and 40 minutes of new music to the game.[15][16] It was the last addition to the game, and no sequel to the game is planned, as the team members behind it plan to move to different game projects.[17]

The game is recognized as appearing to have several difficult platform game elements, often involving combinations of multiple jumps, dashes, wall jumps and other abilities, but yet has been considered approachable. Thorson revealed in a series of tweets that in developing the platforming logic, they created wide "windows" for a player to make an action as to give the player a better chance to succeed, such as allowing the player to be able to jump a few moments after moving off a ledge instead of falling immediately. Thorson called all these elements part of the "game-feel" of Celeste and made the game more forgiving to players.[18]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic(XONE) 94/100[19]
(NS) 92/100[20]
(PS4) 91/100[21]
(PC) 88/100[22]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid10/10[23]
Game Informer9/10[24]
GameSpot9/10[25]
IGN10/10[26]
Nintendo Life10/10 stars[27]
Nintendo World Report10/10[28]
PC Gamer (US)80/100[29]
Polygon8/10[30]
VideoGamer.com9/10[31]
Celeste team at the 2018 GDC Independent Games Festival, where they won the audience award

Celeste received "universal acclaim" from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[19][20][21][22] Video game journalists named Celeste among the year's best games.[32] Polygon named the game among the decade's best.[33] Destructoid's Kevin Mersereau called Celeste "An essential gaming experience," saying "For the first time in ages, I have absolutely nothing to complain about."[23] Tom Marks from IGN praised the game's story, and the way it was blended with the gameplay, saying "I cared deeply about Madeline's struggle and empathized with her in a way I wasn't expecting."[26] By the end of 2018, over 500,000 copies of the game had been sold.[34]

The soundtrack of Celeste composed by Lena Raine and released by Materia Collective was highly praised by critics.[23][26] An official piano sheet music book and accompanying piano album was announced[35] and released on January 25, 2019[36] and a licensed album of lullaby music based on the soundtrack, Prescription for Sleep: Celeste, was released in November 2018.[37]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Result
2018 National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards 2018[38] Original Light Mix Score, New IP Nominated
Independent Games Festival Awards[39][40] Excellence in Audio Nominated
Audience Award Won
Golden Joystick Awards[41][42][43] Best Indie Game Nominated
Ultimate Game of the Year Nominated
The Game Awards 2018[44][45] Best Score/Music Nominated
Game of the Year Nominated
Games for Impact Won
Best Independent Game Won
Gamers' Choice Awards[46] Fan Favorite Game Nominated
Fan Favorite Single Player Gaming Experience Nominated
Fan Favorite Indie Game Nominated
Titanium Awards[47] Best Indie Game Nominated
Australian Games Awards[48] Independent Game of the Year Nominated
Game Informer April 2018 Game of the Month Won
2019 New York Game Awards[49] Big Apple Award for Best Game of the Year Nominated
Off Broadway Award for Best Indie Game Nominated
22nd Annual D.I.C.E. Awards[50][51] Action Game of the Year Won
Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game Won
National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards 2019[52][53] Game of the Year Nominated
Control Design, 2D or Limited 3D Nominated
Control Precision Won
SXSW Gaming Awards[54][55] Excellence in Narrative Nominated
Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation Award Won
Excellence in Musical Score Nominated
Trending Game of the Year Nominated
Video Game of the Year Nominated
Game Developers Choice Awards[56][57] Best Audio Won
Best Design Nominated
Game of the Year Nominated
2019 G.A.N.G. Awards[58][59] Best Music for an Indie Game Nominated
G.A.N.G. / MAGFEST People's Choice Award Won
15th British Academy Games Awards[60] Best Game Nominated
Game Beyond Entertainment Nominated
Game Design Nominated
Game Innovation Nominated
Music Nominated
Italian Video Game Awards[61] Game of the Year Nominated
Best Indie Game Nominated
Game Beyond Entertainment Nominated
ASCAP Composers' Choice Awards[62][63] 2018 Video Game Score of the Year Won

In other media[edit]

The main character Madeline, as well as "Part of Her", are playable characters in the Nintendo Switch edition of TowerFall.[64]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]