Move over, Mario, there’s a new hero(ine) in town.
Meet Madeline, your new favorite adventurer. In Celeste, you’ll follow Madeline on her spiritual journey, in which she hikes up the famed “Mount Celeste,” meeting strange faces with stranger personalities along the way. The game itself is a platform adventurer, inspired by classic Nintendo 2D side-scrollers, like Super Mario. However, Celeste amps up the formula a bit, modernizing the mechanics with some fancy wall-climbing, air-diving, and many more magical and fancy maneuvers that our mustachioed plumber could only ever dream of. As a platformer, Celeste impresses. As a game with an emotionally gripping narrative, and a strong, conflicted protagonist, Celeste flourishes.
One of my favorite things about Celeste is the story of its creation. It was (originally) made during a GameJam, a competition in which developers are challenged to make a fully-playable game in a small window of time, usually twenty-four to seventy-two hours. The great minds behind Celeste are Noel Berry and Matt Thorson of Matt Makes Games. While their website has a packed library of games, just like Celeste, I firmly believe that Noel and Matt struck gold with this one in particular.
Prepare for the tightest of platforming challenges, the sweetest of chiptune sounds, a beautiful and inspiring narrative, and some of the wackiest NPCs you could ever find, outside of Undertale. It must be mentioned, outright, that Madeline is no one-dimensional character. Her biggest downfall is the lack of trust she has in herself, which manifests throughout the game as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and doubt. As you can see from the above image, Madeline is met with doubt from other sources, outside of herself, as she treks up the mountain. Celeste is as much a platform-adventurer as it is an emotional-adventurer, that sheds positive light on the often dreary feelings of anxiety and depression.
Celeste by Matt Makes Games is available now on all major consoles, including Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, MacOS, and Windows. Check out the trailer below, and the official website.