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Celeste’s Final Challenge is Coming Soon for Free

A few months back Celeste developer Matt Thorson revealed that a new chapter is headed to the game as DLC. This final update is titled Chapter 9: Farewell, and it will be free on all platforms. Farewell will be a single, continuous chapter (no B-Side) with some new mechanics, and it’s said to be the hardest Celeste challenge yet.

We haven’t heard much about it since January, but Matt and his team are still hard at work. The official Celeste Twitter account just broke the silence to inform fans that development is “on the home stretch.” Although it won’t be out this month, it shouldn’t be much longer after that. The update also confirmed that the team is waiting to release the physical version of the game until after Farewell is completed.

Source: Celeste Official Twitter

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Celeste’s Upcoming DLC Will Put Your Platforming Skills to the Test

After teasing some farewell levels for Celeste late last year, one of the game’s co-creators, Matt Thorson, took to Twitter yesterday to detail exactly what we can expect from the upcoming DLC. Coming free to all platforms, these additional levels will be leaving the iconic strawberries behind, but they will feature a few new items and mechanics to make up for it.

Unlike the other chapters in Celeste, these levels will compose one continuous chapter and will not feature a B-side. That’s probably a good thing, as these levels are supposed to be the hardest yet, with Thorson claiming that they are “after the current hardest levels in difficulty.” There’s no word on when this DLC will be available, though unfortunately they won’t be ready in time for the game’s first anniversary on January 25th.

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Celeste Raises the Bar for Storytelling in Games

If you’re anything like me, you were probably ecstatic when Celeste got a Game of the Year nomination for The Game Awards 2018. It may not have won, but the team at Matt Makes Games did go home with two other notable awards: “Best Independent Game” and “Games for Impact.” The latter, according to the Game Awards site, is “for a thought-provoking game with a profound pro-social meaning or message.” If you’ve played Celeste or are at least familiar with its themes of struggling with depression and anxiety, you’ll know this award was very well deserved.

I’m hardly the first to write about Celeste‘s portrayal of mental illness—I’m not even the first here at Gamnesia to sing the game’s praises—but as someone deeply touched by the game due to my own anxiety, I wanted to talk about how Celeste brilliantly blends this story with its challenging gameplay, and why that hands-down makes it my game of the year.

Warning: There will be major plot spoilers past this point.

If you follow game criticism, you might know of the term “ludonarrative dissonance.” This refers to when a video game’s story and gameplay do not mesh particularly well. For a recent example, look no further than Octopath Traveler (a game I also quite enjoyed). The game follows eight protagonists with individual goals and narratives, who wind up traveling together for no apparent reason aside from giving the player a full party, as per the JRPG norm.

Since the order of story chapters can vary per player, Octopath makes no real attempt to intertwine the travelers’ separate tales. In fact, story cutscenes only feature that particular chapter’s protagonist—on occasion you see the protagonist tossed into a prison cell alone, only to have the full party appear in jail with them when gameplay resumes. The game attempts to compensate for this with optional dialogue scenes in which the leader chats with another character about the chapter’s events, but while entertaining, this comes off more as a tiny bandage than an actual narrative solution.

So why do I bring up ludonarrative dissonance? Because Celeste pulls off the exact opposite, blending the game’s story beats with appropriate gameplay and level design, thus bringing out the best in each part. Arguably the best example of this occurs during the story’s turning point in Chapter 6. After Madeline finally opens up to Theo about her struggle with depression and how that motivated her to climb Celeste Mountain, she thinks the solution is to leave behind her vices and negative energy, which have taken the form of the antagonist Badeline (typically referred to as “Part of Me” in-game, but Badeline is her official name according to Towerfall). This attempt to deny the parts of her that she hates backfires when Badeline retaliates and tosses Madeline halfway back down the mountain.

Farther into the chapter, Madeline realizes that Badeline, being “Part of [Her],” cannot be destroyed or left behind, and she tries to make amends, proposing they work together. Badeline, who shares Madeline’s fears and anxieties about the climb, pushes back at first, creating the closest thing Celeste has to a boss battle. The two eventually make peace, and as they merge into a more powerful form, the words “LEVEL UP” flash on-screen.

Celeste has no actual level-up system, but the player quickly discovers that Madeline can now do not one, but two mid-air dashes per jump, which aids her in finishing the climb in Chapter 7. Here, rather than ludonarrative dissonance, we see an excellent example of ludonarrative resonance (or harmony, depending on your preference): with her breakthrough in the narrative, Madeline becomes stronger in the game, which complements the game’s theme of coping with mental illness.

On a personal note, this and many other moments in the game’s story resonated with me and my own journey through anxiety — but as I got to the more challenging B-Side stages, I found that observing Madeline’s character arc also made me a better Celeste player. I’m typically the kind of gamer that can rage pretty easily at challenging single-player games like this; Celeste‘s post-game levels are no slouch! But during my run of the Chapter 7 B-Side, I had a different reaction.

When I started to rage, I considered Chapter 7’s premise: Madeline accepts Badeline as Part of Her, and through their new bond they become stronger together. As I thought about that, I found myself channeling my frustration into determination (here’s to you, Undertale!), which helped me push myself even farther before I needed a well-deserved breather. That moment of clarity was when I knew Celeste would easily be one of my top games of 2018, and ever since, I have tried to carry similar lessons with me on some of my more stressful or anxious days.

I could point to several other moments in Celeste that helped me process my anxiety or that I could strongly relate to, but for now, I would encourage everyone to check out some of the countless other articles and videos that have been made on that very subject. And if you aren’t one of the roughly half million people to give the game a shot, I highly recommend checking it out or at least watching an LP – especially if anxiety or depression plays a big role in your life too. Celeste isn’t a perfect symbol of these struggles, nor is it a substitute for real mental health treatment, but it’s a beautiful reminder that we’re never alone in that fight.

As the game’s director, Matt Thorson, put it in his Game Awards acceptance speech:

“If Celeste has helped you come to terms with mental illness … you deserve credit for that. That change came from inside of you, and you are capable of a lot more.”
— Matt Thorson

Keep climbing, my friends.

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A Collector’s Edition of Celeste is Going On Sale Tomorrow

Celeste is one of the best games of 2018, but as is the case with most indie games, it was only available digitally. That’s going to change as we enter the new year, courtesy of Limited Run Games, a company which specializes in creating physical copies of digital-only games in limited batches. Two versions of the game will be available for sale across PlayStation 4 and Switch—a standard edition and a collector’s edition. The standard edition only includes the game, but the collector’s edition throws in a lot of really cool goodies, including:

  • A SteelBook® case
  • 16″ X 20″ Poster of Celeste Mountain
  • Strawberry plush keychain
  • Cassette soundtrack
  • Sticker sheet
  • Celeste Mountain patch
  • Celeste Mountain postcard
  • Strawberry pie recipe card
  • Download code for the full digital soundtrack

Starting at 10:00 AM Eastern Time tomorrow, January 1st, pre-orders will launch for all versions of the game. For the standard edition on both platforms, pre-orders will close on Friday, February 1st. If you want the collector’s editions, however, the availability window is much tighter. These editions will be available for sale in two batches, opening tomorrow at 10:00 AM Eastern and 6:00 PM Eastern specifically. The PlayStation 4 collector’s edition will set you back $74.99, while the Switch version costs $79.99. Unlike with the standard edition, quantities of the collector’s editions are very limited (2,000 copies for PlayStation 4 and 2,500 on Switch) and will likely sell out very quickly, so get your trigger fingers ready!

Source: Limited Run Games

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Celeste Has Sold Over Half a Million Copies

One of my favorite games of the year is indie darling Celeste. With challenging platforming gameplay, an outstanding soundtrack, beautiful retro graphics, and an emotionally charged story, Celeste impressed gamers around the world. It even managed a Game of the Year nomination and took home Best Independent Game at The Game Awards.

As the year nears its end (and as Celeste nears its one year anniversary), Director Matt Thorson took to Twitter to share a major milestone. Celeste has now sold over 500,000 copies since it launched on January 25, 2018. Thorson also followed up on the previous teaser by officially announcing that new, harder levels are on their way to the game in 2019.

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Celeste May Be Getting Even More Challenging Levels

Celeste is one of the most impressive and critically acclaimed games of 2018, and it made our list of must-have indies on Switch and must-see speedruns of SGDQ. If you’re like us and you just can’t get enough of this challenging platformer, you’ll be happy to know that developer Matt Thorson (the titular developer behind the Matt Makes Games studio) seems to be hinting at future content.

Thorson recently took to Twitter to share a short clip of what appears to be a brand new Celeste level. The short segment is filled with beautiful sparkles and certain death. That’s the Celeste we all know and love! The new level is simply labeled “Work in progress,” so it’s not exactly clear what Thorson’s plans are.

In the absence of official word, fans are speculating about the future of the game. Could this dangerous new level be a “D-Side” (a follow-up to the ultra-difficult B-Side and C-Side levels), a new, ninth chapter, or something else entirely? We’ll be keeping our eyes out for more updates!

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A Celeste Physical Release is in the Works

If you’re a fan of challenging platformers, beautiful music, and a moving story, you’ll want to check out Celeste. This indie darling was one of our five must-have titles on Nintendo Switch eShop and it has quickly become a big hit in the speedrunning community. Currently Celeste is only available as a digital download, but that could be changing soon.

Fans recently
started a petition to get publisher Limited Run Games to give Celeste a physical release. The petition itself (which is only seeking 500 signatures) isn’t likely to have much influence, but it sounds like that won’t be necessary. In response to a tweet about the petition, Celeste co-creator, programmer, and artist Noel Berry tweeted out “Workin’ on it.”

This will be a lovely addition to anyone’s collection of physical indie releases, and it’s certainly popular enough to warrant a trip to retail. Hopefully we’ll get an official announcement soon!

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