Strawberries and Mountain Climbing: Celeste Game Review

Celeste is a 2D indie platformer packed with charm and challenge.


Niklas da Silva Ekberg

2018 Game of the Year nominee, Celeste, is an impressive 2D platformer that’s packed with fun and challenging gameplay.

By Niklas da Silva Ekberg, Staff Writer

2018 Games for Impact and Best Independent Game Award winner, Celeste, is a charming and challenging 2D Indie Platformer. Released on January 25, 2018, and developed by Matt Makes Games and Extremely OK Games, Celeste tells an impactful story with lots of fun quips and challenges. 

The game follows a girl named Madeline who wants to climb Mount Celeste to try to overcome her anxiety and depression. Along the way, she meets characters such as Theo, a social media photographer, Granny, who lives on the mountain, and many more. 

The gameplay itself is complex yet very simple. All the player has is a simple dash that can go in any direction; however, the game provides its challenge through its level design. The game often has moving devices like a platform or a bouncy pad, but it also features power ups like a like a dash orb or dash refill. What makes Celeste interesting is its placement and seemingly endless possibilities with such simple mechanics. 

The main levels always have memorable and distinguishing features like level specific objects and obstacles. The game is in 2D, but it still looks exceptional. The backgrounds are animated, the devices are painted in bright and easily noticeable colors, the animations are distinct and sharp, and each level is able to paint its own tone. 

A fast-paced 2D platformer isn’t exactly uncommon, but what separates Celeste from the rest of them is its music. Celeste can be a difficult game for new players; during my first play-through I amassed over 2000 deaths, but what pulled in was the music. Celeste’s music is able to calm the player to push through. As the level changes and becomes faster, the music becomes more fast paced, but keeps a steady beat to keep the player relaxed. 

Celeste’s music composer, Lena Raine, also struggles with depression and anxiety, and tries to have the player experience what that feels like through the music. The music helps amazingly in setting tone, as when Madeline is having a panic attack, the music becomes fast paced and unorganized. 

Celeste has a wide arrange of collectable and side content. Strawberries are scattered throughout the levels and serve as little challenges for the players. Strawberries don’t provide any real reward, but they are still fun to collect. Each level also has a cassette tape to collect and, when collected, unlocks a Side B level. Side B Levels are incredibly difficult and require precise movement. 

Celeste takes roughly eight hours to complete, but around 37 hours to collect all the collectables. The game doesn’t feature an easy mode, but instead has assists like an extra dash and being able to turn off dying, for players who are having a tough time. 

Celeste is a fast paced, musically enjoyable, 2D platformer with tons of replay ability and a challenge for those who love platformers. The game’s story is interesting and is able to display themes of anxiety and overcoming it. I highly recommend this to those who love 2D platformers or are interested in a fun indie game.