(Matt Makes Games for Nintendo Switch)
By Mike Delano
I was always intrigued by Towerfall, the acclaimed four-player competitive game that creator/programmer Matt Thorson released in 2013. But since I could hardly find one other person to play it with, let alone a four-player crew to fully enjoy its chaotic action, it mostly remained a curiosity. Thankfully, Thorson (along with Noel Berry) has now released a game for the friendless. Celeste, a one-player adventure, maintains the chunky, colorful sprite-based look of his previous work and brings it to the realm of demanding platformers like Super Meat Boy and VVVVVV. You control Madeline, a young girl climbing the titular mountain using simple controls: jumping, scaling walls and careful use of an air dash. Using your small arsenal of moves feels tight and satisfying, and before long the game starts layering on interesting new twists to the gameplay so there ends up being plenty more dangers than just spikes and falling off the screen to prevent you from reaching the summit. Along the way, a sparse, charming storyline told through brief interactions with other characters sheds light on the reasons for Madeline’s climb. Paired with the visuals and quirky music, it’s a nice overall presentation, but the star of Celeste is definitely the palm-sweating finger acrobatics required by the devious level designs. The platforming feels so good you’ll be compelled to complete all of the optional challenges that exist outside of the main climb, and even attempt the additional PICO-8 challenge that honors the game’s origin.