Help Madeline survive her inner demons on her journey to the top of Celeste Mountain, in this super-tight platformer from the creators of TowerFall. Brave hundreds of hand-crafted challenges, uncover devious secrets, and piece together the mystery of the mountain.
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I played Celeste about 6 or 7 months ago now and in that time my feelings on it have shifted and grown and changed a hell of a lot. So I'm going to try and capture some of my scattered, teary-eyed thoughts about this game in an attempt to have some sort of solid thing I can look at and say "ah yes, that is a good summary of my feelings on Celeste."
So, here goes.
My first time playing Celeste was actually in 2020, and to be blunt, while I liked the aesthetic and writing, I just found it too hard as my reactions aren't the best and it just ended up being one of those games I shelved and chalked it up to being "not in the right mood for it." Fast forward to some point in September of 2021 and I'm finding myself itching to go back and try again. Before I go any further, fair warning, this review will include me talking about my experience with mental illness. My personal ongoing struggle is a core aspect of why my feelings on this game have shifted so much ever since I finished it, and so, I must talk about them here to give full context.
The last 2 years have not been kind to anyone, but in my specific case, the last 2 years have only been an extension of the things I've been dealing with for years before, just amplified by 100. I suffer with severe/chronic anxiety, OCD and Agoraphobia. In addition, the last 2 years have made me stare head on at my gender identity, something I've always felt weird about, but never had the guts to actually explore too deeply. You can probably already see where I'm going with all this.
So. This second time that I played. I had a good time, I beat the game, and I felt good about that. But, I didn't end up loving it as much as it seemed everyone else did. I actually really struggled to finish it, and reluctantly turned on some of the Assist Mode features just to get me over the finish line. I left this game feeling slightly burnt out by it, saying to myself "that was good, but I don't think I will ever go back to that."
I learned about the protagonist, Madeline, being trans not too long after I'd beaten the game and had some space from it, moved onto other things etc. I think this was the first point where my feelings and thoughts on this game started to sit at the back of my mind, constantly battling and changing. The themes of this game started to permeate me in a much deeper way than I ever thought would be possible. Aside from the obvious themes of battling anxiety/depression being an uphill struggle with thousands of failures on the way being something I resonated with, it was when I started to look at it all from this new lens that it all started to sink in and click. Trans protagonists are SO rare in video games (which absolutely needs to change, but I digress), so seeing myself in this character in a completely different way to any other video game I’ve played really changed the impact that it had on me. I DID struggle with this game and it WAS a massive task to finally finish it, that much didn't change... but as more time passed, I started sort of projecting my own experiences and thoughts and feelings with gender identity, anxiety, friendship and hardship onto my memory of playing this game… which is honestly not an experience I’ve ever had with a videogame before. Turning on Assist Mode to get to the end was associated with feelings of guilt and failure at the time, but that morphed into this acceptance that while, yes, these things are a literal mountain to climb, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve support and help, on your own terms, when you need it. It sounds trivial and maybe almost pretentious to compare the assist mode to my own personal turmoil with self acceptance and inferiority complex, and maybe it is, but I can’t help but feel that every aspect of this game has latched onto some element of my thoughts and my life over the last few months.
That brings me to the last thing I wanted to go over, the soundtrack. I think the music in this game is the most tangible and immediate thing that’s stuck with me. I’ve found myself listening to it a LOT more than I usually do with other video game OSTs, which is almost never. Especially when I was having a particularly bad time, something about the music from this game I'd played once, a few months prior, brought me a weird sense of comfort and familiarity. (BTW, Lena Raine is incredible and her work here is especially amazing.) Everytime I listen to “Resurrections” I get this weird nostalgia for the time where I first played through the levels that accompany it in the game. And that on it’s own has made me think about the link between music and popular culture and nostalgia being so strong but that’s a whooooooooole other can of worms.
So, in an attempt to wrap all this scatterbrained nonsense up, I’ll just say this:
Celeste started off as just another good indie game for me. But the impression that its core themes, music and protagonist have left on me is one of the most profound that I’ve had from a game. I think of Celeste and all its elements as a representation of so much of the last few years of my life, and for that I can’t help but have this deep and ever-growing adoration for it. I didn’t even get into how the actual game plays, or the level design or really any of the actual video game elements. But to be honest if I did, I’d be kind of missing the point of why this game ended up being so special to me. Celeste ended up being so much more to me than just a videogame that I played for a few days. The period of my life that it represents and the lessons, comfort and self-reflection that it inspired for months and months will keep this game in one of the most tender places of my heart for the rest of my life.
Me ha encantado.
Me parece que es un juego desafiante pero que no llega a frustrar como me ha pasado con otros del mismo género y se mantiene así todo el juego mientras añade mecánicas nuevas, siempre apetece jugar un rato.
Además tiene un lado reflexivo que me encanta, la música es increíble, la parte visual acompaña muy bien también... 10/10
I loved it.
It seems to me that it is a challenging game but that it does not get frustrating as it has happened to me with others of the same genre and the whole game stays that way while adding new mechanics, you always want to play for a while.
It also has a reflective side that I love, the music is incredible, the visual part goes well too... 10/10