Towerfall Ascension might be my favorite couch fighting game for PS4. It is fast, simple and incredibly fun. Hearing that Mat Makes Games, made a single player 2D platforming game, I knew what I was getting myself into, sort of.
Celeste is a lot like Super Meat Boy. You play in short bursts, solving puzzles and perform finger aerobics on the controller. This game is very challenging and it starts right off the bat. The very first room you ask yourself, how is this supposed to happen? and then you manage it and it feels very rewarding.
What Celeste has that Super Meat Boy doesn’t is a good character and a good story. The story of Madeleine is very gripping and I like it. The art is not as good as Towerfall Ascension, but this is a much larger game and the art is still excellent.
A game like this needs very well balanced controls, with extremely low latency and the levels must be precise with almost German precision. In this the game succeeds very well. Every time I fail it is only my own fault and that says a lot as I died over 1800 times.
The music is also good. It feels a bit too simple at times but I think it really captures the mood of the chapters. The tune in the hotel is particularly good.
The bad stuff then? Well the controls are good but gripping on with L2? I keep a firm grip always and never learn to release grip when I don’t need it. It feels a bit awkward to have it on L2 and sometimes it feels like I’m squeezing the life out of my controller.
I don’t know, it feels a bit stupid to blame my controller, but I have a hard time to get Madeleine to perform the correct actions. I press the stick up/left but Madeleine goes straight up. And I know that I’m in the wrong here but I die half of the time not because I did the wrong action but because I was slightly off on the L-stick. I should’ve used the D-pad but it wasn’t comfortable at all with the L2 grip, and it felt really awkward trying to fly a feather with the D-pad.
I wonder what kind of controller they used when they play tested this. It sure wasn’t mine.
Another problem I have with controls is that certain rooms require a lot of subsequent actions. And I glide off the sticks after doing several actions in a row. I need to reposition my thumb but the levels give you no time to breathe. So I fail because I can’t control Madeleine appropriately.
Some of the rooms are too long and punishing when you fail. There are also a huge amount of trial and error as you cannot see and plan for every action in a large room, and there are only milliseconds for you to respond on the fly.
By the last chapter the game moves from challenging to just hard. The levels require really precise jumping and luck to get it right. I do the same thing four times and the fifth time I succeed even though I did nothing differently.
The last chapter is also way too long and the game outstays its welcome. When the difficulty spikes and the game never seems to end it stops being fun and you just play it in order to finish it.
I liked the mental health theme of the story. I thought it played out nicely with the game play of climbing the mountain but it felt like the story concluded about half way through the game and then was just prolonged through the last chapters. There were more game than story, so to say and I would love to get something more. Maybe give Madeleine more backstory would have been nice.
I feel pretty worn out after finishing this game. I’m glad I got through to the end but I will not stick around to pick more strawberries or play the Core levels. I’m quite happy with what I got and I’m also happy that it’s over.