A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Celeste is a downloadable retro 2D side-scrolling platformer. The game stars a young and brave woman named Madeline climbing to the top of a mountain while dealing with her inner demons. There's some mild fantasy violence, but because it's heavily pixelated and there's no blood or gore, its impact is lessened. The game's dialogue -- which is entirely on-screen text -- has one reference to alcohol, and words like "damn" and "hell" in conversation.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
CELESTE is a 2D platformer about a young woman, Madeline, who ventures to the top of Celeste Mountain, and along with navigating dangerous environmental obstacles, the brave heroine also tackles her own inner demons. Madeline runs, jumps, and dashes midair to traverse these tricky and often vertical levels. This single-player adventure features a cast of characters, a massive mountain featuring more than 700 screens to survive, and many secrets and other hidden goodies to find (including tougher "B-side" chapters to unlock). The Nintendo Switch version, by contrast, offers 600 levels instead of 700 to navigate through.
Is it any good?
Don't write off this game for its outdated graphics and simple controls, because it's a wonderfully crafted platformer with a ton of fluid and challenging gameplay. The first thing Celeste players will discover is how good the controls feel. They're tight and responsive, and you really do feel like you're in control of Madeline. Quickly hopping between ledges and over chasms and dashing in the air to avoid spikes, traps, and slippery slopes all feels really good. Along with the directional d-pad there are just three buttons to master -- but timing becomes critical, along with the angle of your jump and how long to hold onto the button for. As the story unravels, you do begin to care about this protagonist and the cast of characters, which gives meaning to your actions. You don't usually find a story in a genre like this -- one that's well written, too.
Each of the eight chapters has a different theme, with an amazing soundtrack to complement the graphics. Rooms, dungeons, and outdoor areas also vary between chapters, as you ascend the mountain. And there are some gameplay tweaks, too, such as using wind to help you in a given area. These changes also help the action feel fresh. You'll spend time looking for secret doors, smashing open items to see what's inside, exploring down hidden paths, and trying to collect floating strawberries and cassette tapes to unlock bonus content. There's not much to complain about with Celeste. The six to seven hours of play (not including extra content) is fair for the $15 price tag, not to mention the quality of this family-friendly game, but some might wish there was more (such as a level editor or multiplayer support). While Celeste may not look like much to passersby, those who enjoy a challenging platformer will no doubt fall for the charm of this awesome indie hit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about heroines in games. Is it a good thing that the female protagonist doesn't have to dress suggestively or behave like some other heroines in other games? Why do you think female characters are portrayed in a suggestive manner?
Discuss how you can't judge a book by its cover. Though the game looks outdated, how are the developers able to tell a compelling story?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $14.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Matt Makes Games Inc.
- Release date: January 31, 2018
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Alcohol Reference
- Last updated: June 21, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.