'Celeste,' the Ultra Hard Platformer That Also Wants to Give You a Hug

“Be proud of your death count! The more you die, the more you’re learning. Keep going!”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/a3nbk4/celeste-the-ultra-hard-platformer-that-also-wants-to-give-you-a-hug

Played this a ton last night and I’m seriously struggling to find a single thing wrong with it. Mechanically excellent, beautiful, and unbelievably charming. So glad I gave it a shot, it’s shaping up to be one of the best platformers I’ve played in years.

I’ve only put in a couple hours so far but I’m really loving it.

I’d also recommend people check out the original version of Celeste which was made in Pico 8 during a game jam. It’s a great game in it’s own right (in fact I like that game so much I played it again halfway through writing this post about how much I like it). It’s a pretty short game ~25-30 min on first attempt probably and is a cool window into the origins of the new version of Celeste.


Chapter 3 Secret Spoiler: Actually, the Pico-8 version is accessible in the game.

Celeste is super fun so far! I love the story, the music and the presentstion and the gameplay is super tight. Didn’t make use of the Assist Mode yet but I’m glad it’s there for the people who want/need it.

I’ve finished the main story and am currently working on the harder B-Side versions of the Chapters. One nitpick I have, especially with the later levels, is that secrets and the main path are often indistinguishable, and if the single screens are larger than default it can be hard to tell if where you’re at is a secret or the main path. Add to that the game’s tendency to add anti-backtracking barriers with no indication and you’ve got a pretty frustrating scenario. Thankfully, when replaying you can jump to a few major checkpoints but it’s kind of a bummer on initial playthroughs of the Chapters.

Yeah I just finished up Chapter 3 a bit ago and I saw super pleased to find that I wound up playing through it again, got my run time down to 7.5 minutes, basically half of my time from earlier today!

Also chapter 3 is extremely good, I was really liking it before but chapter 3 was exceptional.

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So along those lines, I heard that this game also has a really wide array of difficulty and accessibility options. Can anyone here who has played/is playing the game speak to those?

At any time you can tweak the game in assist mode to make things a little easier. As opposed to just an easy, normal, or hard mode, they let you adjust specific mechanics. This can be done whenever with no penalty, and is accompanied by a very pleasant message about how the game’s difficulty is in some ways an important part of the experience, but they would like everyone to have a chance to enjoy it regardless.


This game looks really good. It also reminds me of the game, “You have to win the game.” I think it was mentioned on a lot of top ten lists when it came out. It’s free on steam too.

Almost finished this game and I can honestly say that Chapter 6 may be my favorite “level” in any platformer ever. I was already in love with the game, even though I found some of the mechanics a bit frustrating (which was entirely my fault for getting too invested in getting every strawberry), but holy hell that level was sublime. The quasi-boss fight with Madeline’s reflection was impeccably well-paced, and the combination of dashes and feathers and those little bumper-things and Thwomps created one of the best pure kinetic platforming sequences I’ve ever played. Not to mention the amazing music perfectly fitting that scene and the narrative underlying that chapter. All in all it just blew me away.

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Four chapters in and gotta say it’s just a mechanically well made game. It doesn’t really introduce anything new to the genre but the platforming itself is just crafted perfectly. Really digging the soundtrack as well.

The story is good enough but I’m still waiting for it to live up to the hype.

Just wanted to say at this point I’ve finished the game, done half of the b-sides, and Unlocked and played through the bonus story chapter, and I think this is probably the closest thing I’ve played to a perfect game? This sounds like I’m being hyperbolic but it is absolutely unreal how fiendishly clever and brilliant the level design is in literally every single part of the game.

It’s challenging but manages to never feel impossible or overwhelming thanks to how tight the controls are and how generous its checkpoint system is, it never elicits feelings of hopelessness or frustration. I’m in awe of the whole thing, didn’t think a pixel platformer would be the first game in a while that I just can’t stop thinking about.

So I’m a bit into chapter 5 and this game continues to be amazing. I’m going quite a bit slower than I expected though because I’m obsessively trying to get every strawberry I see (they are so interesting to get I can’t pass them up).

It also doesn’t help that every time I start getting bogged down by the difficulty I wind up playing through the Pico-8 version a couple times. I’ve never been felt compelled to speedrun a game before but for whatever reason I’m into speedrunning Pico-8 Celeste in a pretty serious way. I’ve got it down to 3 minutes and 24 seconds, which is about a full minute longer than the best time I’ve seen (and 40 seconds faster than a max strawberry time I’ve seen, which I just can’t wrap my head around).

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It strikes the key balance in having its tightly-designed precision platforming, but avoiding challenge fatigue through unique mechanics in each of the levels, and story sections which gives the experience time to breath.

I kept thinking about how much something like The End is Nigh comparatively flubbed its pacing due to flimsy/nonexistent narrative and a lack of mechanical variety in each zone.

It assumed that you’ll like the nonstop series of “thread the needle” challenges enough to ignore that it’s the only thing going on, whereas Celeste has a much better focus on good pacing.

I love the mechanics, but the story is also something special, both because of the overall mental health themes it explores and the character writing. Each character feels so real, the way they speak, I know exactly who they are. That scene closer to the end where you get to talk to Theo a bunch fleshes out so much as well. Truly a great game.

Early on, Theo seemed really cavalier and wanted to just ditch the hotel ghost, I thought there was going to be some turn near the end where he was a shitty dude that backstabbed you. I much prefer the later development of just showing who he is. Characters in Celeste aren’t just in some good/bad dichotomy, they’re flawed people.

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That’s a good point about Theo, that sequence also made me a bit hesitant. I have not reached the end, so there might be something more there that I haven’t seen yet as well. I’m starting the last main story chapter now.

This whole idea that you are playing against yourself, that you yourself is both the protagonist and the antagonist, exposing this struggle that each of us has, to differing extents, and that they even comment on this explicitly within the game, is really cool. The game plays with sub-text and text in a way that is extremely impressive.

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Mechanically a very well made game, sadly the switch version suffers badly due to the precision of controller inputs required. Pro controller d-pad has too many issues and the analogue stick isn’t accurate enough.

The first b-side I attempted (chapter 2) made me want to bounce my switch off the wall though, wish there’d been a way to come back to that at a later date, it wasn’t clear just how insanely difficult and LONG the b-sides were going to be. If anything you shouldn’t be able to play them until post-game to prevent you hitting such a difficulty wall early on.

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I love this game. I have much to say about this game (which I’ve already done a bunch of here, just to keep this comment short), but seriously. I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I haven’t related this hard to a game in such a long time.

Also shoutout to @2Mello, your b-side track was lit.


i uh, haven’t loved a game this much in basically forever.
i’ve got all but one of the secret collectibles on the A-sides, i’ve beaten 4 of the b-sides, i’ve got my chapter 1 time down to 1:52 and my chapter 2 time down to 3:27, i’m playing it every day, pushing at every edge to find more fun, i’m so enchanted by the way it feels, i love how high the skill ceiling is, i keep discovering more details to mechanics i thought i understood fully, it’s honestly a masterpiece.

I am on the home stretch and my hands are literally shaking. This game is so fucking hard but I can’t stop playing. Had this been meat boy I would’ve quit hours ago but the game does such a great job of encouraging you, both thematically, musically, and especially in regards to tone.