Celeste: An Emotional Mountain Worth Climbing


Cesar Lopez

Created by MattMakesGames. Madeline with her encountered friends and enemies, Theo and Badeline. The further Madeline climbs, the greater the challenge of understanding the mountain and its toll on its travelers. While climbing Mount Celeste, Madeline can encounter strange, broken down places. Old hotels, and even eerie temples. Sometimes Celeste can really feel like more than just a mountain.

Cesar Lopez, Journalist

Celeste is an emotional video game about playing as a character who literally runs away from her emotions in the form of climbing a mountain. Along the way, she meets various characters and challenges to overcome. Celeste is a challenging platformer-type game (a game genre where you parkour from each platform to another) costing $19.99. Celeste’s graphics appear almost classical with its pixel art in-game. Gameplay wise, Celeste is exciting in its narrative, characters (and their development), and levels the player completes. 

Mechanics-wise, the player can dash in the air once before they have to land and “refill” the dash. The player also has the ability to climb on walls, however, staying for too long can result in the player’s character losing stamina and falling. Another aspect of the game is the ability to name the player’s character any name they like. The pay off for this is that the game includes no spoken dialogue (sounding like gibberish). Though there is a short set of mechanics, Celeste’s level designs include all kinds of obstacles for the player to avoid. Celeste has an assist mode for players that aren’t as skilled or haven’t played many other games. To top off all the features, Celeste can keep track of the amount of time spent in-game, amount of deaths, and the amount of collectables found (which are often strawberries).

The soundtrack for Celeste was composed primarily by Lena Raine. The sound track really fits the emotions in character dialogue and intense levels. These songs include various melodies of piano music. Speaking of music, the player can unlock “B-Sides.” These are additional tracks that can be found hidden in levels. Once found, the player can replay through the level again and select the B-side to listen to, rather than the main track.

As for the story of Celeste, it’s quite straightforward. Keep in mind the default name of the character is Madeline, for simplicity, that will be referred to rather than “the character.” Madeline’s emotion is based on the developers’ experiences with depression and anxiety. This shapes up Madeline’s uneasiness in her character’s emotional challenges. She leaves to climb Mount Celeste, an almost magical place it was rumored to be. Along the way, Madeline meets new travelers and tries to come to terms with herself. She struggles with how she is emotionally and the mountain climbs goes to show how Madeline grows as a person. Madeline, our protagonist, is challenged with her antagonist, with an unofficial name, who is referred to as Badeline. That’s right, Madeline’s enemy is literally a darker reflection of her own emotions, which adds to character development. Throughout the game, the two constantly run into each other on the climb, and when they do it usually never ends well. Oftentimes Badeline serves as a mirror to Madeline as to who she really was.

As for graphics of Celeste, the majority of what you see is somewhat 8-bit. 8-bit means that the graphics, for the most part, look pixelated.  These graphics resemble those seen in the first Super Mario Games, and even Super Metroid feels similar. However, when characters talk, there is a huge chatbox that appears on either the top or bottom of the screen. With the actual dialogue, there’s also a small box that shows a drawn photo of the person who is speaking. This allows for less confusion and more understanding of the characters.

When it came out, Celeste was highly regarded. Celeste even won the Game Award for the Best Independent Game in 2018. The game went through many changes in its development. Celeste was originally supposed to be a small game. The kind of game that could be finished in about 30-40 minutes for a new player. Though when the game’s main developer went through distress in his life, he wanted to make the game something more. The old “copy” of the game can be found in a hidden room in the game (which is actually playable).

In conclusion, the game is challenging and incredibly emotional. Completion of Celeste is incredibly difficult when it comes to collecting everything possible. Experiencing the main game is decently challenging opposed to completing the side quests. Celeste, while not a large game, is an enjoyable game with a lot of effort put into it (with the soundtracks and characters). Overall, this game is well worth picking up and playing.