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Video Game / Celeste

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"This is it, Madeline. Just breathe. You can do this".
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 Matt Makes Games Inc., the studio that created 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 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.


A physical release of the Switch version is planned by Limited Run Games for a 2019 release, and a bonus Chapter 9 is planned as free DLC in 2019 as a thank you for the reception the game received and as a final farewell.

No relation to the novel of the same name and its two sequels. Or to the French Web Game Celestus.

Celeste contains examples of:

  • Ascended Glitch: Some of the games 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 by the fan community as a "hyper" (from "hyper dash); while mostly beneficial to speedrunners, the game teaches them to the player and mandates them in the Chapter 8 C-Side. 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 the C-Sides.
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    • 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 of the wall or floor behind the spikes, in what's termed a "spikejump". This is necessary to collect a 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.
  • 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 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 this ability 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.
  • All There in the Manual: Both the dark counterpart of Madeline and the monsters in Chapter 5 are unnamed in the game. The other Madeline is officially named "Badeline", and the monsters are called "Seekers".
  • 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 abilities — which obstacles block them and which they can break through — for when they show up as enemies later in the level.
  • An Aesop: Your negative feelings are part of you. Don't let them control you, but also don't try to deny them - when you fully accept yourself, you can work wonders!
    • Chapter 6 also has a secondary one: complex issues like depression and anxiety can't be solved with Epiphany Therapy and banishing them, they have to be acknowledged as warped defense mechanisms that're still a part of you, and sometimes even have validity.
  • Antepiece: Many level-specific gimmicks are introduced in relatively safe forms before being employed in full force.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Several examples.
    • 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.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The in-game Mount Celeste is over 3000 meters tall, as opposed to the actual mountain's roughly 2000.
  • 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.
  • Bookends: Both the prologue and the epilogue take place at the old lady’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.
  • 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 the Golden Strawberries. The C-Sides are difficult enough, but collecting all of the golden strawberries requires you to beat every single chapter without taking any damage. Yes, this includes the B-Sides and C-Sides. Good luck.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 are blue. The ones at the end of the B-Sides are red. The ones at the end of the C-Sides are yellow.
  • Confetti Drop: The checkpoint flags in chapter 7 drop confetti when you reach them.
  • 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!"
  • Death Mountain: In-universe: Mount Celeste. In game, mostly levels 4, 7 and 8.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • The epilogue is slightly different depending on how many strawberries you've collected. If you manage to complete the game without collecting even one, Madeline's "strawberry pie" is just an empty pie crust.
    • 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 — it's a fact that a few extra contentsnote  rely on you taking advantage of this ability.
  • 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 exit 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.)
  • Double Jump: Madeline's dash ability can be used in this manner, since she can dash in any of the eight basic directions, but she can only use it once before needing to land on something or use a green crystal in order to use it again. 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).
  • Dream Sequence: Levels 2 and 6 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.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: Averted. The game makes it a point to be as accessible as possible to those new to the platformer genre, as turning on Assist Mode does not change the game whatsoever. Your file will have an Assist Mode stamp on it, but it disappears once Assist Mode is turned off.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: This entire game, excluding the last level, takes place over 3 days.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Loads!
    • In a fundamental way, the approach Celeste takes towards solving puzzles and platforming mirrors that of actual rock climbing.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The blue crystal hearts within each chapter 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 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 a secret in Super Mario Bros. 3. If you never played that game or just aren't aware of some of that game's tricks, you're not getting that heart.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hell Hotel: The third chapter of the game takes place in one of these.
  • 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. 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.
  • 100% Completion: There are 175 strawberries, 8 B-side cassettes, 24 crystal hearts, and 25 golden strawberries to collect.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 mankind's insignificance.
  • 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.
  • 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 Epilogue: How many strawberries you collect throughout the game determines the quality of the pie Madeline bakes during the epilogue.
  • 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.
  • Near Victory Fanfare: When you're in the same room as a B-Side cassette or on the last screen of a B-Side, the music drops out and is replaced by a simplified chiptune arrangement.
  • Nintendo Hard: While the controls are easy to grasp, the level design demands that every movement be precise, especially in the B-Side chapters. Lots of deaths are to be expected.
  • 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 Shizophrenic Difficulty; C-sides are far shorter and thus on average it takes far less to get back where you died). Good Luck.
  • 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.
  • 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 the Old Lady 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) in order to access them.
  • Production Throwback: Chapter 7 has Madeline discard her pack with her hair constantly billowing in the wind, much like the original freeware version of her design.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Truth in Television: In Chapter 2, you can read the memorial from Chapter 1, except the text is scrambled and ever-changing. This is a thing that really happens to text when you dream, as Tom Scott explains.
  • Variable Mix: 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.


Example of: