The way Celeste plays with your emotions in the second half of the game is absolutely fantastic and a perfect example of giving narrative weight to gameplay

I’ve always been a big fan of indie games. When I bought my Switch a few years ago, Celeste had only been out for a few months. Along with “Breath of the Wild,” it was the first game I bought on the Switch. I played for hours on exhausting levels, and it’s one of the first “difficult” games I really enjoyed.

I loved how easily the game manages to fit a moving and surprisingly deep story into a simple 2D platform game that wouldn’t be any worse without it. But Celeste is much better for it. Especially in the scene where you climb to the top, you support Madeline in ways you wouldn’t if you weren’t so invested in the story.

I’ve never really dealt with mental health and anxiety, and while I couldn’t directly identify with some of those experiences, I certainly sympathized with Madeleine. I don’t think it’s the only thing that gives the game that quality: Celeste is more than the sum of its parts, and for me, the atmosphere, the music, the rhythm of the game, the challenge, and the combination of all that make for a transcendent experience. Take for example the part where Madeleine falls at the bottom of the mountain after the ice temple. Although the Hall of Mirrors was stressful and scary, it wasn’t really that difficult. But the atmosphere made her feel anxious and dangerous. The reflection in the game may have been a little more difficult, but the calmness of the music and the overall experience was not only a pleasant change, but also served a more important narrative purpose.

Then Madeline came to her senses and learned to live with that part of herself rather than fight it or lose it.

Despite the challenges of this section, I never felt the pressure and anxiety that I experienced through the Temple of Mirrors, because that’s the problem: life will not be easy, even if you are at peace with yourself, but this sense of peace and calm can help you overcome challenges that are much more difficult than ever.

Were there parts of the game where you felt like they were doing something similar? Or other games that have that kind of interesting element?

Anyway, I’ll talk about these things on the podcast:

The next level of storytelling. You can watch it on Youtube or another podcast site.

PSA: I would love to include some of your thoughts in my next episodes and I will publish them here regularly. Leave a comment and I may quote you in my podcast (you’ll benefit from that, of course)!

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