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Journey to New Heights: Celeste Review

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Originally published on Nintendo Castle.

Celeste Logo

For a couple of years, I kept hearing people raving about Celeste, a single-player, story-driven platformer. I heard countless people online talking about what a wonderful game it was, and from the outside, it sounded perfect. Good characters, good story, good art, and good level design. What more could someone want? And yet, despite lusting after it for years, I never took the leap to play it myself. Why? Because every single review I read said it was terribly difficult, and I assumed I couldn’t do it.

Platforms: Switch, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Steam [Reviewed]
Developers: Maddy Makes Games, Extremely OK Games, Ltd.
Release: January 25, 2018
MSRP: $19.99

Celeste Gameplay Spikes

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no stranger to video games. I’ve grown up with them surrounding me. Even though I love them and consume so many of them, I've never considered myself very skilled at them. I’ve never had the lightning-fast reflexes that others do. And so when I hear that a game is difficult, I automatically avoid it, no matter how much I want to play it. Regardless, I impulse-purchased Celeste one day, and I will never look back.

Celeste Screenshot

All the reviews I read are absolutely correct. Celeste is a fantastic game. Let’s get the obvious out of the way. It is difficult, no ifs ands or buts about it. There are some (many) jumps that are incredibly tight. Some levels took me hours to complete. Yet, a few simple aspects of the game made something that could become very frustrating into a rewarding experience.

First off, the controls are very easy to learn. Essentially all you do is jump, climb, and dash throughout the entire game. That’s it. Yet, it never feels stale, as new elements are introduced in each section. Floating bubbles, air currents, malevolent black goo, and more all work to keep interest alive. Each section (and the game as a whole) is perfectly crafted to gradually increase in difficulty as it goes on, as well. While you may struggle to land one bubble jump at the start, by the end, you’ll be shocked to find yourself doing three in a row with no problem.

Celeste Movement

Second, you respawn incredibly quickly. While this may seem small, it is a game changer when it is not uncommon to die thousands of times throughout your journey. I have played platforming games before where I felt like I was spending more time waiting to respawn than actually playing. This is not at all an issue in Celeste. Even if you’re like me and you aren’t the world’s most incredible gamer, you aren’t going to be stuck in loading screens for the rest of your life.

Third, and perhaps most importantly for me, the story is absolutely incredible. You play Madeline as she ascends to the top of Celeste mountain, a long and arduous task she isn’t sure she can complete. You join her as she meets new people, struggles to find herself, and battles her inner demons along the way. I’m not going to divulge too much about the story, as I would heartily encourage you to play for yourself.

Forest Area Celeste

I will just say that I tend to avoid any games that delve too deeply heavily into mental health. As someone who struggles mightily with anxiety, one of the primary focuses of the game, I tend to find that most games do not represent it very well. This is not the case for Celeste. Instead of leaving the experience frustrated and annoyed as I normally do, I left feeling seen, heard, and understood. Regardless of your personal mental health, I genuinely think all people could benefit from the messaging of this beautifully written tale.

In the end, Celeste is all about a young woman trying to do something she felt like she never could. And that’s exactly what the game was for me. Much like Madeline, I embarked on this journey full of doubts, and emerged at the top regardless. It was difficult, don’t get me wrong. But I’m proud of myself for doing it anyway. So this is my call out into the world to remind you that difficult does not mean undoable. Hard does not mean impossible. And, like myself and this game, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to try something. What matters is the end result. I implore you to try Celeste if you haven’t already, and maybe you’ll just discover exactly what you’re capable of.


  • Easy-to-grasp controls
  • Innovative level design
  • Gradual increase in difficulty
  • Quick respawns
  • Lovable characters
  • Compelling story
  • Good music
  • Lots of post-game content


  • Can be frustrating
  • Mechanics vary in design strength



Excellent games have our official recommendation and are examples of what every game should strive to be. These games feature exciting gameplay, engaging stories (when applicable), intuitive controls and movement, polished and fitting presentations, and good value. Above all else, these games are truly fun to play.

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