Celeste deserves a thread


#1

This was mentioned in the Switch topic, and Tom streamed it once as well, but it probably deserves its own thread since it’s not exclusive to the Switch.

It’s a 2-D platformer which you could lazily refer to as “punishingly difficult”, except it’s not punishing. You just keep trying and learning until you get it, you’re not penalized.

It’s really good so far! I’m only a couple hours in; I’ve just started in the hotel (got as far as finding the PICO-8, a mini-game of sorts which I was disappointed to learn does not save your progress).

And it is, of course, difficult. But so far I haven’t thrown any controllers through the screen. I think I need to buy a pro controller though, after a couple hours I realized the difficulty had me clenching the joycons way too tightly and my hands were cramping up.

Also, it’s beautiful, which was obvious immediately, right when Tom groans and complains about the pixel art in his stream.


#2

I liked it quite a bit. You develop a rhythm (like with most difficult games) of 1. Try the screen and fail, 2. Figure out what you need to do, 3. Execute perfectly. Your moveset is very simple (and stays that way through almost the entire game), but each level adds a new environmental wrinkle.

I found it difficult but satisfying enough that I have no desire to go back and do any of the extra challenges like getting all of the strawberries or completing all of the B-sides.


#3

That’s a funny piece of circular logic. If you’re the type of person who finds constant iterations of the same gameplay loop until you finally get it right to be penalizing, then this can absolutely seem like punishment. Now I say that knowing absolutely nothing about this specific game but I can say what I’m reading here definitely sounds like the kind of game I would tire of quickly.


#4

Punishment to me has always been replaying easy shit to get to the hard part I care about.

Platformers like this do better about minimizing the time between retries and distance between checkpoints. I’m sure there are still annoying challenges where you’ve mastered the first few maneuvers and can’t beat the last one. So yeah it’s still punishing to some extent and you have to sign up for that.


#5

I mean it’s a game that knows you’re going to die over and over again.

Oddly, I connect it back to the early Tony Hawk games just because they’re the most memorable comparison I have of the try-fail-repeat loop. When trying to pull off a specific trick, the part where you know you’ve failed so you hit start to pause, down to highlight restart, and X to confirm (or whatever) becomes this mindless automatic step.

In Celeste, there’s no game over, no button you have to press, no lives, you don’t have to start a level over, no loading screen, you’re just immediately back at the beginning of the sequence to try again.

That’s what I meant about it not being punishing, the game makes the try-fail-retry loop a smooth, uninterrupted process.

I doubt that’s unique to Celeste in this style of platformer, but it’s important to get right.

One of the loading screens between levels even gives you a cheerful message about the death counter like “Don’t worry about how many times you’ve died, it just shows you’re learning!” or something. Cute.


#6

While the main content of the game is pretty accessible (within the bounds of the genre), the extra content (B-sides and the “Core”, a hidden final level) are pretty brutal. I beat the main game relatively easily, but have been pretty much entirely stymied by those.


#7

That’s good info, thanks for the clarification. Certainly if the game has decent checkpointing that can take the sting out of having to repeat just the stuff you failed. If I had to go back, I don’t know, ten minutes to get to he part I screwed up, I think I would just give up after a few attempts.


#8

The checkpointing is per “room”, with rooms generally being 1-2 screen widths long.

So, you’re generally only retrying like up to 10 seconds, but let me tell you, on the 30th attempt, you’re still pretty tired of those first 4 seconds.

To be clear, I really liked this game, and beat it, which I never do with these kinds of execution based puzzle platformers. But attempting the bonus content has kind of soured me on the overall experience, because while some of it is harder in a fun way, there are definitely a fair share of things that just feel hard for no reason. There are some really interesting difficult order-of operations sort of puzzles in the later levels, but then some that are just twitch execution based.


#9

I finally finished! Well, I mean, I got to the summit. Obviously lots of stuff to go back and attempt if I’m feeling brave. Still not sure how much of that I’ll attempt.

🍓 x 112/175
💀 x 2,922
⏱ 10:59:27.687

Nothing impressive about my stats, but I stuck to my personal goal of never backing down from a strawberry I could see how to get to. I didn’t go hunting them all down, but if I saw a strawberry, I didn’t stop until I got it. The only exceptions were a couple places where a strawberry hidden room was visible from somewhere other than room you actually need to be in to get to it, and the very first winged strawberry in the game. I didn’t realize at the time that they flew off when I dashed, I just thought it was taunting me and moving up to a higher location where I could find it later as I climbed.


#10

I loved the first half of this game. I was feeling proud of myself, finding cool secrets, and pumping my fist at the end of B-sides. It was the perfect balance of enjoyable frustration I want from a modern platformer – at least when the mood strikes on rare occasions!

Around chapter 5 it turned into too many battle sequences and too many awful story segments that I was too stubborn to skip.

I liked the final chapter but I thought the Core level had the worst mechanics in the game. I felt like my appreciation for the game was draining rapidly so I quit while I was ahead.

If I ever go back, I think I’d just do a few more B-sides.


#11

Aww, awful story segments? I loved the story, it helped keep me going in a genre I’m not usually drawn to!


#12

I feel really bad for saying that since it tackles a difficult subject. It was just too young-adult for me. I would’ve appreciated a much subtler metaphor.


#13

Oh! Mr. Oshiro was really fun.

And on that positive note, I’m off to bed.


#14

I’ve never heard of this game until the Game Awards tonight. It won Best Independent game, and apparently it’s been released on every platform. It is a pixel art style game though, which is my kryptonite. But it looked neat.


#15

It is neat! I’ve been playing it for the last couple weeks on Switch, and just finished the main story (though there are tons more harder objectives to go for). Highly recommended!