"This is it, Madeline. Just breathe. You can do this." Sensational platforming, looks and sounds great and with so much heart, there is something there for everyone. You play troubled Madeline who pushes herself to climb Celeste Mountain - a platformer that mirrors the heroine’s own struggles. Tough and spectacular.
Celeste is brutally difficult. You will die a lot. And the death counter will remind you. However, “be proud of your death count! The more you die, the more you’re learning. Keep going!” says one loading screen - the metaphor for life is not lost.
The brilliance of the game play is in its level design, rather than the unlocking of abilities, all eight chapters sending you new hazards, new elements, being chased by your own demons (literally) and going forward will mean a combination of determination, anticipating upcoming problems and physical dexterity.
That said, Celeste is as simple or challenging as you decide you want it to be. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for the assist option(s) this would have been relegated to my “rage quit” game folder. No player left behind, regardless of skill you can get Madeline it to the top of the mountain: slow everything down, become invincible, get infinite stamina. That this ties into the game’s themes of overcoming one’s own limitations is very well done.