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gaming
25-May-19
Celeste Reviewed!
Let me just start by suggesting that I never expected to climb the Summit of Celeste. I fully expected to add this game to my Pile of Shame alongside VVVVVV and every other twitch platformer that doesn't have Rayman in it. But something about Celeste kept me going, and when I eventually reached that beautiful, beautiful summit flag I knew that I had achieved something pretty special.

The game is as mentioned a twitch platformer that uses just three moves: jump, climb, and an eight-directional dash, but with these simple moves it can knit together some of the most flawless physics and creative jump puzzles I've ever seen in a platforming game. The early levels are nothing particularly special for the genre but they introduce the controls in an intuitive way with each level gimmick given a harmless introduction so that the nature of these gimmicks never feels unfair. Don't get me wrong though, the game is *brutally* difficult, often requiring pixel-perfect touch and exact timing, and there's some spikes in the level of challenge that dwarf the ones plastered all over the walls and floors (Yes, Celestial Resort, I am looking at you).

Not helping is the touchiness of the dash. It could be that I'm using an Xbox controller for this, which with its circle D-Pad without separate direction buttons means I may as well be trying to use it to give accurate directional inputs to my cat. But unfortunately, and this isn't the game's fault, some combination of the janky controller and my stupid fat fingers meant that Madeline often decided to investigate some nearby spikes rather than the Olympic gymnastics program that was required for her to progress and somehow it's even more frustrating in a game about agency and learning from your mistakes to be stuck somewhere several precise controller inputs behind the important bit that you can do and have repeatedly done and fffffFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

Which brings us to the story, and that's ultimately what kept me coming back to Celeste. The narrative is as tight as the gameplay, using some minimalist elements to tell some really powerful bits of story about living with depression and anxiety, and while I'm not going to go quite to the level of hyperbole that some in the video games media have come up with and suggest that the writers should be up for the next Nobel Prize for Medicine, I *will* say that this is the first review I've written for a very long time (on Steam, the first ever) and this was the game that inspired me to do it. It's a beautiful game with a powerful narrative and a wonderful aesthetic that blends together the faux-retro pixel-art with some great illustrations and character portraits that along with the amazing soundtrack manage to interact in fun ways with the story. Most of all, it's clearly a game that's made with love and attention to detail - any game that renders separate textures for each individual character's *dialogue box* is one that gets my vote in that regard.

I still don't expect to ever 100% Celeste - the B-Sides alone look like they're going to pulp the last of my sanity into so much strawberry pie filling - but then, I never expected to climb the Summit, either.

And so, it's with a newfound sense of confidence that I can state that:
THIS GAME IS GREAT

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