The Small But Important Change 'Celeste' Made to Its Celebrated Assist Mode

More than 100 new levels were added to Celeste this week, alongside a small bit of story, a poignant goodbye to Madeline and their attempt to scale a magic mountain. It also features a small but important tweak to the text introducing the game’s “Assist mode,” a way to alter Celeste’s finely tuned rules and mechanics, up to and including death. Among other changes, it now says Celeste was “intended” to be difficult. Before, it was “essential.” It’s an alteration that came because of a collaboration between Celeste’s developers and its fans, a way to bridge the gap between well-meaning creatives and players impacted by their choices.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43kadm/celeste-assist-mode-change-and-accessibility
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More reason to list Celeste among my favorite games of all time. Can’t wait to see what that dev team does next.

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This is better, but I am still one of the small group for whom assist mode doesn’t quite help. (I don’t want Celeste to be trivial, but my specific problem with its controls isn’t something directly alterable by an option, and the things I can change either don’t touch on it, or make it impossible to fail but just tedious.)

I feel a little bad about this, as Thorson obviously does care about accessibility and language ; but then, I also do disagree with the core thesis of Celeste’s gameplay/psychology interplay (it’s quite possible for a hard experience to break you, rather than be overcome).

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I’m just glad assist mode exists because there’s stages in Chapter 9 I consider to just be brutally unfair and straight up in-fun since they require impossible timing to pull off frame perfect tricks, like six in a row. So say, this screen, I can just skip this miserable shit and go on with my life.

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I’ve written about my experience with Celeste numerous times on here and why think it should be considered probably the greatest 2D platformer of the past 25 years, at the very least since the turn of the century, so I’ll just say that it is a thoughtful implementation and the way they have altered it and consciously tried not to get too “precious” about their intended design choices is something every single member of the game development field could/should look to do as well.

Blessings out to the entire Celeste team, they’re all wonderful people and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

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