When I think back on my 35+ years of gaming, I can only think of a handful of games that come to mind that I would consider to be perfect. Games like Super Metroid, Super Mario Bros 3, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past are no-brainers for me, but am I to believe that perfection has not been achieved since the SNES era? That is absolutely not true, because Celeste is such a game.
My name is Jason, and this is your Nindie Spotlight for this week – Celeste!
Mount Celeste Will Challenge You
Celeste is a game that was initially created as a prototype during a game jam, a gathering of people for the purpose of creating games in a very short period of time. The prototype was so popular and successful at the game jam that Maddy Thorson and Noel Berry, the developers, decided to expand the game into a full release and launched in January 2018, three years ago this week.
The name “Celeste” is not the character’s name, either, but the name of the mountain where the game takes place. The creative team searched for mountain names in the British Columbia area, and they chose Mount Celeste as they liked the name, despite knowing nothing about that particular mountain.
Well, you do not need to know anything about that mountain in order to endure the pain that the game can help you experience. Actually, climbing the mountain is both the purpose of the game and a metaphor for something much deeper.
Mental Health is a Mountain
In Celeste, you play as Madeline, a young girl who is struggling with life after the death of a close friend, and she is trying to overcome doubt, anxiety, and failure. It is in this simple narrative that Celeste transforms into one of the greatest video games in history, because it integrates such harrowing themes into a story that is relatable for anyone and everyone.
Each of us at some point in our lives have faced the hardship of doubt, anxiety, or failure. The way Celeste communicates these narratives is more than simply through its dialog, but it is quite literally the climbing of the mountain itself that communicates these struggles the most.
Somehow, Celeste takes us on a journey through these exact raw emotions, and through the simple narrative of playing as a young girl who struggles with these very things, we are met with a marvel of social and psychological commentary in a video game setting.
Celeste is a story that absolutely cannot work as a book, a movie, or a TV series, because it’s the actual gameplay that makes the story that much more powerful.
It would be one thing to stay focused on the story and praise it to the moon and back, but like I said at the beginning, Celeste is gaming perfection and the platforming is on a whole different level.
One of the first things you will notice while playing is how tight and refined the controls are. A modern day 2D platformer has never felt better, and I am including all recent Super Mario releases as well. The way Madeline jumps, climbs, and dashes feels so innovative and intuitive that it makes you wonder why other games in the genre haven’t accomplished this similarly.
The controls and gameplay are also ever-evolving, because there are movements that are in the game from the very beginning that are not taught until significantly later in the game. You may accidentally discover these actions early on, or your mind might be blown by the late discovery when you finally learn them. Either way, it is fascinating that Celeste can seemingly keep something from you that is at your disposal from the start.
Each area of the mountain feels like its own, unique trek, and conquering each stage feels empowering. With each stage, Madeline is becoming stronger as she literally climbs a mountain, but also figuratively as she climbs the varying obstacles in her life’s path.
Despite the fact that Celeste is an indie title, this is too perfect of a game to not praise everything. I could write entire articles on the game’s graphics, brilliant soundtrack, and character development, but it is the climb that makes this game something beyond special. This is one of very few titles that I tell people they must play, and it is because of that mountain.
Whether you are a platforming expert or have never touched the genre, Celeste has you covered. The accessibility menu in-game is absolutely brilliant, as it allows you to fine-tune the experience to your needs. Do you want the game to be normally hard? Well, don’t touch anything and just play the game as is. Do you need to slow it down? Head to Assist Mode and adjust the game speed among other things. Basically, the game allows you to modify the rules to change the difficulty and tailor it for you specially. This has been heavily praised in the gaming community, and it allows so many more people to enjoy the climb.
Celeste really is the total package and a perfect platforming experience. It offers loads of challenge, but it also makes it available to everyone. The story, the gameplay, the look, and the sound are all top-tier and create for an adventure unlike anything else.
If you have never tackled Mount Celeste yourself, then what are you doing? Strap on those climbing boots and get ready to overcome a mountain that will genuinely make you a better person.
There is your Nindie Spotlight on Celeste. Join us next time for another brief look into the Nintendo Switch’s best Nindie titles. What are some of your favorite indie games? Let us know in the comments below! Thank you for visiting Nintendo Link. Happy gaming, everyone!
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.