Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Celeste

Go To
"This is it, Madeline. Just breathe. You can do this."
Part Of You/Badeline: You are many things, darling, but you are not a mountain climber.
Madeline: Who says I can't be?

Celeste is a Retraux Platform Game developed by Extremely OK Games (previously known for making TowerFall). It was released for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch on January 25, 2018.

Madeline, the Player Character, has just arrived at the base of the eponymous mountain in British Columbia, Canada, with the goal of reaching its peak. To accomplish this, she must make her way across many varied locales, each with its own mechanics and traps. Along the way, she will meet colorful characters and come to terms with her inner struggles.

Madeline can jump, dash, and climb walls. With these simple mechanics, the game presents the player with more than 7 worlds filled to the brim with chasms, spikes, and many traps in this tough-as-nails, fast-paced platformer that constantly builds on its mechanics to make the experience more challenging.

On September 9, 2019, the game received a free DLC in the form of Chapter 9, entitled "Farewell". Created as a thank you for the reception the game received and as a final farewell before the development team moved on to their next project, the chapter features over 100 brand-new rooms and 13 new songs. A physical release of Celeste by Limited Run Games has been released in late 2019.

On January 25th, 2021, to celebrate the third anniversary of Celeste's release, the same developers made Celeste Classic 2: Lani's Trek using the PICO-8 engine. It features a new protagonist traveling to Celeste Mountain but features a new style of platforming centered around a grappling hook Lani finds. The game ends on a screen with a mysterious flower bud that has yet to bloom.

On January 29th, 2024, to celebrate the game's sixth anniversary, albeit a few days late, Celeste 64: Fragments of the Mountain was released. Created "in a week(ish)" by the Celeste team, this is a 3D platformer in the style of games for the Nintendo 64. It features Madeline mentally returning to Mount Celeste while writing a book.

No relation to the novel of the same name, nor its two sequels, nor the French Web Game Celestus.

Celeste contains examples of:

  • 100% Completion: There are 175 strawberries, 8 B-side cassettes, 24 crystal hearts, and 25 golden strawberries to collect. If you count Chapter 9, there's the elusive Moon Berry, and the deathless golden strawberry, which is the hardest challenge this game has to offer.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: When Madeline finally accepts Badeline and merges with her at the end of Chapter 6, she gains the ability to dash a second time in the air. It can only be used at the end of the same chapter and the next two chapters, however; she can't use it when revisiting previous chapters or their alternate sides.
  • Achievement System: In the Steam version of Celeste, you can get up to 32 achievements.
  • Advanced Movement Technique:
    • By Air-Dashing diagonally into the ground and then immediately jumping, Madeline can launch herself forward with great momentum. The move is called "wavedashing," the name being a Shout-Out to Super Smash Bros. Melee. Another similar technique called "wallbouncing" can be done by dashing up and then doing a wall jump adjacent to a wall. Both moves are required to complete the last few Brutal Bonus Levels.
    • There is an even more advanced technique that even the developers of the game didn't intend, which is called the ultra dash. It allows you to go even faster than a wavedash. What you do is wavedash, and then right after you jump from the first wavedash, dash down-diagonally again, which preserves the speed from the first wavedash. You can only get more speed from the ultra dash if you are not on flat ground. The downwards diagonal dash has to end before you touch the ground in order to get the speed boost, which is impossible if you are on flat ground. If you get this technique correct, then you will get a 1.2x speed boost every time you ultra dash. You can look at this Reddit thread for more information on how to do ultra dashes.
    • You gain a small speed boost every time you jump. Jump-climbing can also get you that same small speed boost, but only if you make it over the wall in a short period of time. If you want to get that speed, you have to climb jump on the corner of the wall. This is called a cornerboost. Speedrunners use this technique in areas where you don't have a dash, for example the Prologue and the Core.
    • Usually, when you wall jump, you can't go back to the wall higher than before. But if you don't hold any direction keys when you wall jump, you are a shorter away distance from the wall than if you held any directions. What you can do with that is 1. wall jump without any directional keys, then 2. right after you do that no-direction wall jump, you can go back to the wall, higher than before. That is called a neutral jump, and it is used for climbing really high walls.
    • A demodash is a dash in a crouched state, and a hyper dash is when you dash downwards diagonally and then jump to get the same speed as a wavedash. When you are wavedashing, the game doesn't check if you are dashing diagonally downwards, but rather if you are in a crouched state. Downwards diagonal dashes already have the crouched state, so the game doesn't really worry about which direction specifically you are dashing, just if you are in the crouched state or not. So what you can do is demodash to the top of a ground higher than you and then jump when you are on top of the ground. You will still get wavedash speed, even though you did not wavedash. This technique is called a demohyper, and it is used when speedrunners want to get good speed on top of a ground higher than them.
  • All Just a Dream: Chapter 2 and Chapter 9, given how Madeline wakes up from the dream in her bedroom upon completing the chapter.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage:
    • Of the Final Exam variety, with in-game justification. At the start of Chapter 6, Badeline throws Madeline all the way down to an underground Lost World, angry that the latter wants to get rid of her. They reconcile at the end of the chapter and gain a super jump ability in which Badeline throws her up (in addition to the above-mentioned second dash) as a result of their newfound harmony. Chapter 7 sees them quickly going through the environments from the first five chapters all over again, using these abilities to quickly ascend the mountain a second time.
    • The Chapter 8 B-Side and C-Side combine gimmicks from multiple chapters, otherwise never seen together, into unified sequences.
    • Chapter 9 features almost every gimmick in the game, plus a few that are new to that chapter. Even the rhythm blocks (only briefly used in the B-sides and their unlock rooms) make an appearance, with a twist: normally, they only switch between blue and pink, but in Chapter 9, you can find rooms going from blue to pink to yellow to green and back to blue again.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Both Badeline, the dark counterpart of Madeline; and the Seekers, the monsters in Chapter 5, are unnamed in the game, but have been officially named by the developers.
    • The Theounderstars instagram page contains some things regarding the characters not shown otherwise in the game such as a look into Theo's friends and family (including Alex's design) as well as Madeline taking up archery after the game's events.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Midway through Chapter 5, there's a brief sequence inside Madeline's mind where you play as a Seeker. This serves to introduce their dashing ability, which obstacles block them and which they can break through for when they show up as enemies later in the level.
  • Antepiece: Many level-specific gimmicks are introduced in relatively safe forms before being employed in full force.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • While respawning in a room containing wind which pushes you, an Advancing Wall of Doom or a hostile Badeline, you will not be affected by them until you start moving.
    • If you die in the first room of a level while the speedrun timer is on, it resets to 0.
    • Assist Mode can make you invincible and grant you infinite dashes, letting people beat the game without throwing controllers over the difficulty. It also doesn't disable achievements.
    • Sometimes a stage will split off in all directions into different side-areas that contain collectibles, such as Chapters 2 and 4. In these instances, the way that continues on through the stage (and thus the one you want to avoid if you're hunting for strawberries) will have light shining through it. There are exceptions, like the ones that lead to a B-side cassette tape sometimes having a light. Chapter 4's side-area hub will close the entrance to a side-area after its strawberries have been collected, sparing you from checking a cleared area.
    • Some large rooms feature a pair of binoculars, which allows you to see the entire room and plan ahead.
    • Bumping into a Crystal Heart (which you need to dash into to collect) restores your air dash, for the few moments where a heart is suspended over a pit and you exhaust your air dashes getting to it.
    • Due to collecting Golden Strawberries being the most brutally difficult challenge in the game by a long shot, there's no achievement tied to collecting them. They're a pure Bragging Rights Reward.
  • Arrange Mode: If you complete everything, all of the levels, B-Sides, and C-Sides, then you unlock Variant Mode, which is an extra menu option that allows you to change specific parts of the game, and add challenges.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The in-game Mount Celeste is over 3000 meters tall, as opposed to the actual mountain's roughly 2000.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Despite climbing a mountain and at one point, rapidly ascending it via being tossed up, Madeline shows no symptoms of oxygen starvation or altitude sickness.
  • Ascended Glitch:
    • Some of the game's mechanics regarding momentum and dashes lead to glitches that might seem like oversights, but were discovered during development, and accounted for by the developers, with some of the game's ultimate challenges even relying on players using them!
    • The biggest examples result from the player gaining more momentum than intended by dashing into a surface and then jumping with the extra momentum from the dash. When used against the ground, it's referred to as a "wavedash"; while mostly beneficial to speedrunners, the game mandates them in the Chapter 8 C-Side and Chapter 9, formally teaching you it in the latter.
    • A variation on the same interaction, where the player dashes against a wall and then uses the momentum to jump and gain more height (termed a "wall bounce"), is also taught in the Chapter 7 B-Side and is necessary throughout Chapter 9 and the C-Sides.
    • Due to the way the game handles collision with spikes, if Madeline is moving away from the direction that spikes are facing, she can jump off the wall or floor behind the spikes, in what's termed a "spikejump". This is necessary to collect a Winged Golden Strawberry from Chapter 1 by beating it without dashing, which is impossible without the technique.
    • A casual player will likely never notice that it's possible to jump or dash out of the dream blocks in Chapter 2 to gain extra momentum, but it's mandatory to use this property to complete the Chapter 2 B-Side. A little bird even pops up at the start of Chapter 2-B Side with a dialogue box to hint at this.
    • It's actually possible to dash, even in mid-air, while crouching to reduce the size of Madeline's hitbox. This lets her dash through seemingly solid hazards that have separate hitboxes, such as walls of crystals, and is called a "demodash". While it's never mandatory, Chapter 9 has a few rooms specifically tailored for speedrunners that require the technique.
  • Astral Finale: The Chapter 9 DLC happens in space. Except, not really...
  • Big Bad: For the first six chapters, Part of You/Badeline is the physical incarnation of Madeline's insecurities that she came to the titular mountain to purge, and tries everything in her power to stop Madeline from reaching the summit and becoming at peace with herself. However, at the end of Chapter 6, they learn to accept each other and become allies for the rest of the game. The last three chapters have No Antagonist.
  • Big Boo's Haunt:
    • The second level of the game takes place in some ancient abandoned ruins, with a suitable creepy atmosphere. This chapter also features an enemy that follows Madeline, destroying her if they make contact.
    • Also the third level, Celeste Resort, a huge rundown hotel that is haunted by the spirit of the late Mr. Oshiro, as well as black and red blobs that are the manifestations of Mr. Oshiro's anxiety.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Chapter 9 only. Granny has died, though in Madeline's dream she appears to have one last conversation. Madeline gains the courage to wake up and message Theo, apologizing for shutting him out.
  • Blackout Basement: In Chapter 5, some segments are in complete darkness, but they have torches that need to be lit by touching them.
  • Bookends:
    • Both the prologue and the epilogue take place at Granny's cottage.
    • Additionally, the intense sequence of notes at the end of the prologue as Madeline dashes across the bridge where you first learn the dash? It's the opening movement of Reach for the Summit, the theme of Chapter 7.
  • Bland-Name Product: Theo is an avid user of the in-universe version of Instagram; InstaPix.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The original Japanese translation had a variety of issues up to the inclusion of slurs towards the mentally illnote ... in a game about coping with mental issues... in a context where it made no sense to begin with. The developers were initially unaware of this as none of them spoke the language, but eventually, a new localization team was hired to translate the game again from scratch while the old version was quietly scrapped.
  • Bonus Dungeon: Chapter 8. It takes place after the game's epilogue, features new and harder obstacles and challenges, and doesn't reallly have any story besides "Madeline explores the mountain's core".
  • Brick Joke:
    • Prior to starting Chapter 2, you receive a postcard stating that collecting strawberries will only impress your friends. Once you collect all 175 strawberries, you receive an achievement called "Impress Your Friends".
    • In chapter 6, during the confrontation with Badeline, she said she could pull both of them to the center of the earth if she wanted to. The Crystal Heart for chapter 6B is called "Center of the earth".
  • Brutal Bonus Level:
    • Chapter 8. Taking place a year after Madeline's summit climb, this sees her going into the core of the mountain. Accessing the entrance requires obviously beating the main story's chapters, and furthermore, at least four crystal hearts are needed to enter the area proper. Among other things, a major source of difficulty is the fact that Madeline does not recover her dashes upon landing unlike everywhere else; here, she must use the green crystals to regain them.
    • Each chapter has a "B-Side", which is unlocked by finding hidden cassette tapes in each chapter. B-Sides are extra-difficult levels that each require mastery of the chapter's respective gimmick. Collecting all the crystal hearts and beating all the B-Side levels unlocks the even more brutal C-Side levels and Golden Strawberries. The C-Sides are difficult enough, but collecting the golden strawberries requires you to beat each chapter without dying, not even once. Yes, this includes the B-Sides and C-Sides. Good luck.
    • If the C-sides take the Brutal Bonus Levels up to eleven, the DLC Chapter 9: Farewell turns it up to twelve. A huge Marathon Level that introduces several new mechanics, demands the use of speedrun techniques simply to pass some of its rooms, and remixes the mechanics from previous levels in much nastier combinations.
    • And, of course, it all culminates to what is undeniably the cruelest challenge of the entire game: The Chapter 9 Golden Strawberry, which requires you to control Madeline almost perfectly for over twenty straight minutes.
  • Bullet Time: If you get too close to the boss in level 3 or the Seekers in level 5, the screen desaturates slightly and time briefly slows down.
  • Central Theme: Dealing with depression and anxiety, facing another part of yourself.
  • Challenge Run: The Golden Strawberries on each level become available after completing the Chapter 8's B-Side and collecting them requires you to taking them to the end of each level without dying. And there's the Winged Golden Strawberry which requires you to complete the first chapter's A-Side without dashing at all (dying is permitted), which requires plenty of skill and knowledge of advanced movement techniques like spike-jumping that the game never directly teaches you. Of course, getting these strawberries is completely optional as you only need 150 strawberries (less than the number of all regular Strawberries) to get the game's best ending.
  • Chase Fight: The climax of Chapter 6, "Reflection", features one of these. Madeline tries to apologize and reason with Badeline, but she wants none of it and attempts to deter Madeline by repeatedly blasting her with bullets and lasers. In order to progress, you have to repeatedly ram into her, with each successive hit sending her fleeing further into the level.
  • Cheat Code: There's one to unlock every level, without actively affecting your collectible count.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • The hair color of Madeline's sprite reflects whether she can dash. If it's red, she can; if it's blue, she can't. When it's pink, she can dash twice.
    • The Crystal Heart collectibles are different colors depending on where they're found. The ones hidden in the regular levels excluding Chapter 9 are blue. The ones at the end of the B-Sides are red. The ones at the end of the C-Sides are yellow. Finally, there is a light grey one in Chapter 9.
  • Confetti Drop: The checkpoint flags in chapter 7 drop confetti when you reach them.
  • Conspicuous Electric Obstacle: Electric fields in Chapter 9 are a common occurrence. In some screens, there are electric boxes. Destroying those boxes will turn the electric fields off on said screens.
  • Cosmetic Award: The game tells you up front that the collectible strawberries are there just to show off to your friends.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: In the cutscene just before Chapter 6 proper begins, Madeline manages to fall through a series of crystal spike barriers unharmed, when in gameplay she dies when she so much as pokes one of them.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist:
    • Dying takes you back to the last entrance you used in roughly a second. The game makes it a point that dying is simply a temporary setback rather than something to be shamed for; one of the pre-chapter postcards even tells you to "be proud of your death count!"
    • Heavily averted with the golden strawberries, where you need to complete the entire stage without dying once. One death, and it's back to the beginning. The only exception to this is if you're insane enough to collect the Moon Berry and the Golden Berry at the same time in Chapter 9, as a death is required in one room to get the Moon Berry. However, bringing the berry to said room would make the berry temporarily detach from you while you perform the death warp, and it'll be waiting for you in the place where you'll respawn.
  • Death Mountain: In-universe: Mount Celeste. In game, mostly levels 4, 7 and 8.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • Theo's dialogue in Chapter 2 and 3 are different if Madeline skips meeting Theo or if Madeline ran off before telling Theo her name.
    • The epilogue is slightly different depending on how many strawberries you've collected. If you manage to complete the game with very few Madeline's "strawberry pie" is just an empty pie crust. invoked
    • Theo has a sister whose canon name is Alex. However, if you renamed Madeline as Alex, she will change her name to Maddie.
    • You might have noticed that moving between screens recovers your dash. Do you think it's a programming oversight? Nope — obtaining a strawberry in Chapter 3 and the Chapter 2's Crystal Heart rely on you taking advantage of this ability.
    • The B-Side of a chapter can be unlocked about halfway through an A-Side. If you decide to abort the level at that point and directly play its B-Side, the game will still unlock the next chapter just as if you had finished the normal A-Side level. This is something that speedrunners will often exploit.
    • The secret strawberry in Chapter 9 requires you to die and respawn in a new area. Death usually costs you the Golden Strawberry if you're going for it, but if you're mad enough to go for the Golden Strawberry and the Moon Berry at the same time, it will temporarily detach in the room with the required death, letting you pick it back up when you respawn.
  • Dialogue Tree: Done between chapters 5 and 6, where you select options for both Madeline and Theo.
  • Door to Before: When you collect the cassette that opens a level's B-side, a bubble will appear and automatically carry Madeline back to the entrance of that room. (In contrast, if you collect any other item in a dead-end room, like a strawberry, you're required to backtrack all by yourself.) This also happens in Chapter 9 when you collect the keys in the Power Source area.
  • Double Jump: Madeline's dash ability can be used in this manner, since she can gain height from it while already in the air - however she can only use it once before needing to land on something (unless she uses a dash crystal to refill her dash while airborne). At the end of chapter 6, when she merges with Badeline, she can dash twice in the air. In Chapter 8, not even landing will recharge her dash; she has to grab a crystal to use both of her dashes again.
  • Double Unlock: To unlock the beginning of Chapter 8, you need to beat the game. Then a barrier blocks your way to the level proper until you have at least four crystal hearts. Completing Chapter 8 unlocks the entrance to its B-side, which is sealed by a 15-heart barrier. Completing that unlocks the entrance to its C-side, which requires 23 hearts (in other words, every other heart in the game). Chapter 9 is similar, as while it can be started after beating Chapter 8, completion requires 15 hearts from the preceding chapters, with a gate blocking progress showing up a third of the way through the chapter due to the rest of the chapter requiring knowledge of the wall bounce, which it taught in Chapter 7's B-side.
  • Dream Sequence: Levels 2, 6 and 9 contain dream sequences. The majority of level 2 is a dream, shown by Madeline waking up at the end next to her camp fire. The beginning of Level 6 involves Madeline attempting to talk to Badeline, with mixed results. And Level 9 is a dream as Madeline tries to cope with the death of Granny.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Averted. The game makes it a point to be as accessible as possible to those new to the platformer genre. Your file will have an Assist Mode stamp on it, but it disappears once Assist Mode is turned off.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The original Pico-8 game is almost a completely different beast from the 2018 game. To name a few differences, Madeline is the only character, with none of the game's supporting cast (Not even Badeline), It is far shorter, You can't climb walls, there isn't much story beyond climb the mountain and it lacks the plot concerning Madeline's depression entirely, the green crystals are also replaced with balloons and Madeline's final form doesn't come from merging with Badeline like in the final game, but from an power up she gets from a chest (Her hair also turns green as opposed to pink).
  • Eldritch Location: The final room in Chapter 8 - The Core seems to be this. Featuring low gravity, vertical wrap-around and reduced movement speed like you're walking through treacle.
  • Embedded Precursor: During Chapter 3, there's a hidden computer at one point that allows you to play the original Pico-8 version of Celeste. Once found, said game can then be accessed from the main menu later on.
  • Enemy Without: Both Badeline and the Seekers are manifestations of Madeline's depression.
  • Escort Mission: The later parts of Chapter 5 involve you carrying / throwing around a crystal which holds your friend Theo. You cannot complete each room without him.
  • Evolving Music: Most level themes do this as you you progress through them. Chapter 7 (being an All the Worlds Are a Stage level), incorporates each previous level's music into its evolving music.
  • Exact Words: "Strawberries will impress your friends, but that's about it", seemingly just an explanation that Strawberries are an optional collectible for bragging rights, but also foreshadowing that how Madeline's friends react to the strawberry pie she bakes at the end of the game is indicated by how many Strawberries you've collected.
  • Extended Gameplay: The main story ends in chapter 7. Chapter 8 is a Bonus Dungeon without much story. Chapter 9, however, features a new story wherein Madeline falls into depression once again due to being unable to cope with Granny's death.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The first seven chapters take place over only 3 days. Chapter 8 happens over a year later, and Chapter 9 some unknown length of time after that.
  • Game Mod: Everest is a mod loader and creator that allows you to play custom maps and mods for Celeste.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Loads!
    • The strawberries you collect go into Madeline's strawberry pie in the epilogue. The more you get, the tastier it is.
    • The penultimate sections of Chapter 6 and 7 both use the feather extensively, which makes sense given the feather in the story is a technique Madeline uses to cope with rising anxiety, and both sections are tense moments before the end
    • The penultimate section of Chapter 7 also features upward wind for the first time in the game. After challenging her for so long, the Mountain is helping Madeline reach the end after she's dealt with her personal problems.
    • The final section of Chapter 6 has Madeline repeatedly having to ram into Badeline to get her to understand that she won't reject her anymore, much like how difficult it can be to embrace mental illness in a healthy way.
    • Also in the final section of Chapter 6, we find out just how incredibly powerful Badeline is - able to summon enormous laser blasts, fire energy pulses, levitate stone blocks with telekinesis - showing the true extent of Madeline's anxiety and how hard it is to fight.
    • The Ruins portion of Chapter 7 lacks Seekers or any of the creepy elements because they're only manifestations of a person's insecurities. Madeline at that point is working with hers, so the Ruins are just some ruins and nothing more.
    • Besides being an Astral Finale, Chapter 9 also has ocean themes. This is because it embodies Madeline trying to cope with Granny's death, and she has compared her depression to being at the bottom of ocean during her talk with Theo.
  • Game Within a Game: In Chapter 3, you can find a hidden room with PICO-8 computer on which you can play the original freeware version of Celeste, from which point you can boot it up at any time on the title screen. You can play that version online here.
  • The Ghost: Theo's sister Alex is mentioned by him in conversation, but never shows up physically in the game. However, she makes physical appearances on Theo's Instagram account.
  • Ghost City: Chapter 1 takes place in the Forsaken City. According to Madeline, the city was built by a large corporation, but they were unable to convince anyone to live there, for obvious reasons.
  • Goomba Stomp:
    • Jumping on snowballs, certain enemies or bosses temporarily puts them out of action, gives you a little air and resets your dash.
    • In Chapter 3's C-Side, it becomes a necessary mechanic, as completing the level without bouncing on Mr. Oshiro's head and restoring your dash is impossible.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: After Madeline walks off a platform, for five frames, it is possible for her to jump or hyper like if she was still on solid ground. (In game design this Anti-Frustration Feature is known as "Coyote time").
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • All the blue Crystal Hearts within each chapter's A-Sides are very well hidden, even more so than the B-Side tapes (which also qualify for this), to the point where a player may not know they even exist until they find themselves gated from entering the Chapter 8 or its bonus stages. The methods needed to get some of these hearts, even if you know their locations, can also be cryptic. Special mention goes to Chapter 4's Crystal Heart, which is a Shout-Out to the white block trick in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Chapter 2's Crystal Heart which requires you to exploit the fact that the dash recharges whenever Madeline goes through a screen transition.
    • The 200th strawberry can only be gained if you successfully clear the first chapter without using your dash ability even once. The game never tells you that this is the method to get it, and even pulling this off requires serious player skill and knowledge of things that the game never teaches you, such as spike jumping.
    • New with the Farewell update, obtaining the "Wow" achievement requires collecting the Moon Berry, which can only be found by backtracking at the very end of Chapter 9 and following a newly unlocked path, traversing several more difficult levels than you would normally by following the intended path. You even have to intentionally die at one point.
  • Gusty Glade: Chapter 4 is full of wind currents that blow horizontally, either requiring Madeline to work through them or use them in her favor. Chapter 7 additionally has wind currents that blow vertically. Chapter 9 has wind currents blowing both ways horizontally and upwards.
  • Hailfire Peaks: The post game world, The Core, features both Lava and Ice as its theme and as hazards, with the main mechanic being switching between both states to progress in the level.
  • Happy Ending Override. Downplayed. Chapter 7 ends with Madeline and Badeline climbing the summit, returning to Granny's cabin and making pie for all the friends they made. Chapter 9 reveals that at least a year later, Granny died, and Madeline dreams about trying to find her while arguing with Badeline. At the end of the chapter, she reaches out to Theo and apologizes for shutting him out.
  • Hell Hotel: The third chapter of the game takes place in the Celestial Resort, a run-down hotel infested with spectral Living Dust Bunnies that kill Madeline on contact. The only remaining member of staff is the ghost of the hotel's owner, Mr Oshiro; when Badeline appears to tell him he's running an example of this trope, he goes berserk and attacks you.
  • Helpful Mook: There are several enemies you can Goomba Stomp on, and while they're never harmless, the bounce and dash reset you get from that often makes them more of a help than a hindrance, and becomes a necessary mechanic in Chapter 3's C-side, where bouncing on Mr. Oshiro's head is required to get enough distance. Special mention goes to the Seekers in Chapter 5 who are not only bouncy, but also produce a shockwave when they reform, sending you flying.
  • Heroic BSoD: Chapter 9 reveals that Madeline had a breakdown after Granny died, being unable to message Theo or attend Granny's funeral. It's revealed that she has guilt about it and not being there for Granny. Her dream helps her snap out of it, slightly.
  • Hourglass Plot: Much of Chapter 6 is spent with Madeline chasing after Badeline to reconcile and reason with her. Badeline takes a while to understand. In Chapter 9, Badeline is the one telling Madeline that Granny is gone, and that she's chasing after wishful thinking in her dream. It takes until the bird nearly gets hurt that Madeline listens and admits that Badeline is right.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipe: Upon death, every chapter has a unique wipe pattern related to the world it's set in. For example, Chapter 3 has you unlocking doors with keys, so its wipe is shaped like a keyhole.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: In the room before talking to Badeline for the first time, the music drops out as you get closer to the room exit.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • The first conversation with Badeline ends with her ominously stating:
      Badeline: Let's go home... together.
    • In Chapter 6, just before the Chase Fight with Badeline, Madeline has this to say, with a twinkle in her eye:
      Madeline: Let's climb out of here... together.
  • Kaizo Trap: It's actually possible to die after collecting a Crystal Heart. The Hit Stop means you effectively have maybe a second when you're actually vulnerable, so in most cases you have to actively try to get killed this way, but Chapter 8-C's Crystal Heart is positioned such that you might well fall off the bottom of the screen if you're not careful enough.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The end of the track for the main bulk of Chapter 2, "Resurrections", ends with a fade-out, some creepy ambience, and finally some "Psycho" Strings.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Whenever she's trying to force Madeline to do something, Badeline will lean or climb outside the bounds of her frame.
  • Lift of Doom: Many rooms feature moving platforms that float right through the Spikes of Doom, requiring Madeline to pull all sort of acrobatics to safely ride the platform all the way to the top.
  • Living Dust Bunnies: These are the main enemies encountered in Oshiro's hotel in Chapter 3.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Chapter 5 has the Mirror Temple, featuring statues of tentacled eyeball monsters—and then the Temple starts reflecting Madeline's subconscious, and similar monsters attack you. However, no one winds up dead or insane, since this is ultimately a metaphor for dealing with depression, not a story about humanity's insignificance.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Downplayed. The color of the particles released by Madeline’s death always matches the shade of her hair at the time she died, including being gold if you are using a golden feather, blue if your dash was exhausted, or even white if you die during the split second when your dash is transitioning from blue back to red.
  • Marathon Level: The "Farewell" Chapter 9 DLC is composed of over an hundred of the toughest screens of the game, requiring players to master some of the hardest moves to pull off (most of them being ascended glitches) in order to be able to complete them, on top on throwing new mechanics into the mix. It is not uncommon for players to suffer thousands of deaths before being able to complete this chapter (at least, for those who didn't give up midway or caved in and turned Assist Mode on). Even pro-players took several hours before managing to reach the ending. Thanksfully, this chapter has quite a few checkpoints for those who wish to stop the ordeal and come back to it later, but one must prepare themselves for an incredibly tough challenge that will keep them occupied for days.
  • Medley: The final non-bonus level is a mashup of all 6 previous levels with some new content and mechanics. Fittingly the soundtrack "Reach for the Summit" is a medley with elements from all the previous level tracks.
  • Mercy Mode: This game has an Assist Mode. Unlike similar modes in other games, this mode lets the player customize the game to make it easier, from granting total invincibility to slowing down the game speed.
  • Mental World: The second half of Chapter 5, where the temple traps Madeline and Theo in a mental world, where Madeline's inner demons manifest as enemies.
  • Minimalist Cast:
    • Only five characters throughout the entire game, two of which only show up occasionally.
    • Taken to the logical extreme in the PICO-8 games, which have no characters outside of the protagonist.
  • Mirror World: Waking up near the end of Level 2 - The Old Site removes most of the obstacles present in the level alongside some other small changes.
  • Modular Difficulty: Once you beat the gamenote , you unlock "Variant Mode" where you can change aspects of gameplay to mess around. Some are purely positive like infinite stamina and infinite dashes, some are purely negative like invisible motion and no grabbing, and some fall somewhere in the middle like 360 dashing.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Chapter 6. The chapter starts off on the high note set by the end of Chapter 5, with Theo and Madeline taking the time to get to know each other better. Then Madeline has a dream where she flies up to see the aurora borealis via golden feathers, sees Badeline, and tells her that she doesn't need her anymore. This seems like it would lead to something good, but it goes HORRIBLY wrong with Badeline furiously holding Madeline captive, mocking her panic attack treatment feather trick, and tossing her back down to the base of the mountain.
    • Happens again in Chapter 9. In the middle of a chapter dedicated to Madeline coping with Granny's death, and right after a section of the level where the cheery facade is glitching out visibly and audibly to reveal a black hole in the background... Madeline watches a literal Powerpoint presentation on how to wavedash, complete with a Summit remix in elevator music-style.
      Wavedashing and You: A Practical Guide to Catching Birds in Space
  • Multiple Endings: At the end of the game, Madeline bakes a strawberry pie for everyone. Naturally, the outcome of this depends on how many strawberries you've collected. The game did say "strawberries will impress your friends", after all.
  • Musical Gameplay: Every level contains a hidden room where the music changes and pink and blue platforms (and obstacles) appear and disappear to the beat of the music. The same platforms create the final challenge in every B-Side level.
  • Near Victory Fanfare: When you're on the last screen of a B-Side, the music drops out and is replaced by a simplified chiptune arrangement.
  • No Antagonist: Chapters 7 through 9. Badeline is the antagonist for the first two thirds of the game, but she is simply a manifestation of Madeline's insecurities who just wants to keep Madeline safe from disappointment and hurt feelings and has a Heel–Face Turn at the end of Chapter 6. After the conflict between them is finished, Chapter 7 has Madeline go on the final stretch to reach the summit, while Chapter 8 has her explore the mountain core to see what's inside. Chapter 9's conflict is Madeline's struggle to accept Granny's death, and while there is friction between her and Badeline, the latter character is not an antagonist so much as a concerned friend.
  • No-Damage Run: Required for 100% completion, as getting golden strawberries requires you to go through each stage without taking any damage. Yes, this also goes for the B-Side and C-Side chapters (which ironically suffer from Schizophrenic Difficulty; C-sides are far shorter and thus on average it takes far less to get back where you died). Good Luck.
  • Offscreen Start Bonus: If you go to the left at the very beginning of the game, you find where you parked. It looks like a hidden room at first, but if you enter a cheat code in this room, you unlock every level in a mode called "Cheat Mode."
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: Chapter 9 has them appearing when you obtain the first crystal heart, with the following screens having the stone textures peeled away from platforms and replaced by a grid.
  • One-Steve Limit: Renaming Madeline as "Alex" changes the name of the other character named Alex.
  • One-Word Title/The Place: The game is named after Celeste Mountain, and you spend the entire game climbing it.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Some rooms contain winged strawberries that leave the screen if you dash. At first it seems like the only way to get these is simply to not dash, but that's not true - you can grab strawberries while they're flying away. This means that if you're fast enough with your dash, or in the right position to catch the strawberry as it flies away, you can still get it. Some winged strawberries require you to exploit this.
  • Platform Hell:
    • The B-sides, C-sides, and Farewell all demand absolute precision when platforming, and the latter two have rooms that require you to platform flawlessly for upwards of thirty seconds with no checkpoint if you fail. The final room of Farewell deserves special mention, requiring two minutes of absolutely perfect movement (and even longer if you're trying for the Moon Berry).
    • Golden Strawberries, which mandate a No-Damage Run for an entire level, will send you all the way back to the beginning if you make a single mistake — if you're trying to "golden" any of the aforementioned levels, that means you have to dive headlong into the depths of Platform Hell, conquer all of the level's challenges, and do it without messing up once.
  • Player Nudge: The update added crouching Madeline statues near a conspicuous white block inside the Chapter 4's Crystal Heart room. Explanation
  • Post-End Game Content:
    • After completing the 7 main chapters, you unlock Chapter 8. It takes place a year after Madeline's climb to the summit, and she's introduced by Granny to the "Core" of the mountain. However, a barrier blocks your way until you have at least four crystal hearts.
    • The C-Sides are effectively this, since you need to beat all eight B-Side levels (including Chapter 8's, which requires fifteen other crystal hearts to unlock) in order to access them.
    • Chapter 9's second half is gated by requiring fifteen crystal hearts (the significance of 15 being that this guarantees the player has encountered the wall-bounce tutorial in 7-B). And even the first half is post-endgame by virtue of sheer difficulty.
  • Production Throwback:
    • Chapter 6 has a hidden room with (non-interactive) characters from TowerFall in it. You need to perform a TowerFall-like maneuver in order to reach it.
    • Chapter 7 has Madeline discard her pack with her hair constantly billowing in the wind, much like the original freeware version of her design.
  • Recurring Riff: Most of the songs in the game’s soundtrack include variations on the same 16-note melody.
  • Remixed Level: Each of the levels contains a hidden Cassette, which unlocks a remixed "B-Side" of the level. Completing all 8 B side levels unlocks 8 C-Side levels, which are much harder but shorter remixed levels.
  • Rise to the Challenge: The Core has this at one point with rising lava. Unusually for this trope, not only are there rising ice flows, but near the end you'll have to reverse the lava to ice and vice versa constantly, dealing with it not only rising to the top, but also creeping to the bottom.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Chapter 1 has this aesthetic, though slightly subverted in that the Forsaken City was never actually inhabited to begin with; it's just that nobody wanted to move in once construction was finished.
  • Scaling the Summit: Madeline is climbing Mount Celeste in order to get out of the self-destructive cycle she's found herself in. Theo is doing it because he's unsure what he wants to do with his life and his deceased grandfather mentioned this particular mountain as the place where he found himself. Though, unlike Madeline, he isn't too concerned about reaching the summit.
  • Sdrawkcab Speech: There's a secret monologue hidden within the second half of the Mirror Temple's music track, where Madeline talks about her depression.
    Sometimes, I don't really know what's going on anymore. I-I don't know who I am. I just look in the mirror, and don't know who I'm looking at, or who's looking at me. I think a lot about...where my train of thought is going, and it's not always a good place. And that scares me. I don't like scaring myself. I...don't...*sobs*
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • You can skip a locked door in Chapter 5 by taking a hidden passage, saving a lot of time. This is required for 100% completion, as you need the key you would have used to unlock a different door that leads to the chapter's crystal heart.
    • Chapter 9 has a big one in the crystal gate skip. To pass the gate and continue the chapter you need to have completed every other level and collected the Crystal Hearts, a necessity due to Chapter 9 utilizing techniques that you need to have learned from said levels. However, if you're fast enough, you can either hyperdash or wavedash under the barrier before it falls, completely eliminating the need to play the other levels.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: In a fundamental way, the approach Celeste takes towards solving puzzles and platforming mirrors that of actual rock climbing.
  • Social Media Before Reason: In Chapter 5, Theo goes into a mysterious temple to get cool pictures for his InstaPix followers. This ends badly.
  • Speaking Simlish: When Madeline or NPCs talk, a synthesized sound plays to act as their voice. Theo occasionally subverts this with a clearly-audible synthesized "Yoloooooooooo!"
  • Spikes of Doom: Spikes are everywhere, much like in other platformers with death counters. There's the standard rows of spikes, but many areas instead or also have spiky crystal formations that are just as deadly.
  • Sprint Meter: Madeline has limited stamina for holding onto walls, and climbing depletes that stamina even more quickly. (Wall Jumping uses her stamina much less, oddly enough.) There isn't an explicitly displayed meter, but Madeline begins to sweat—then her face turns red, and then she loses grip and begins sliding down the wall. Fortunately, her stamina is instantly refreshed whenever something happens that would refresh her air dash.
  • Stuck on a Ski Lift: At the end of Chapter 4, the lift carrying Madeline and Theo unexpectedly jams in midair.
  • Temple of Doom: The Mirror Temple, the setting of Chapter 5. It starts off ominous but otherwise deserted, only for it to begin reflecting Madeline's subconsciousness and transform into a physical Black Bug Room infested with dangerous monsters.
  • Temporary Platform: Grey blocks that crumble appear everywhere in the game, along with pink clouds which evaporates when you jump off them and walls that fall as soon as you jump onto them.
  • Variable Mix: The soundtrack in general transitions as you progress through the game:
    • The many different stages in Chapter 7 each have their own unique version of the chapter theme that the game switches to once you reach them.
    • In Chapter 8, the background music will shift between "hot" and "cold" versions as the Lava/Ice switches are activated.
  • Video Game Dashing: Madeline's primary means of movement.
  • Wall Jump: Madeline can jump off the wall she's currently climbing, and in fact, wall jumping back and forth is a more efficient way to climb sufficiently narrow chasms than trying to scale the same wall, since she uses comparatively little climbing stamina.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 6 is insane from a narrative standpoint. Madeline and Theo have a heart-to-heart conversation where they get to know each other better. Then, Madeline decides to confront Badeline once and for all. Badeline goes insane, and tosses Madeline all the way down the mountain, culminating in a climactic fight between the two at the end of the chapter.
  • Win-Win Ending: The primary conflict of the main game is between the heroine Madeline, who wants to climb the titular mountain to cast away her insecurities, and Badeline, the embodiment of those insecurities who wants to protect Madeline by stopping her from climbing the mountain by any means possible. Come the end of Chapter 6, and Madeline comes to accept Badeline as being a part of her who she needs not cast away, but to welcome and manage- in return, Badeline agrees to help Madeline reach the top of the mountain, and by the end, they've gone from enemies to allies, successfully scaling the mountain and able to return to the bottom, safe and sound.


Video Example(s):


Empty Space

There is the heart at what looks like the end of Farewell. When you collect it, Madeline realizes that she still has not found Granny. Then the heart shatters and you are able to continue.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / FakeOutFadeOut

Media sources: