Originally a game for the PICO-8 fantasy computer (that I wrote about here), Celeste is a hardcore platformer from the developers of TowerFall that has now become a complete thing and is universally loved for its beautiful aesthetic and challenge.
Celeste feels like a very capably made platformer, easily on par with other masocore greats. But where it really sets itself apart is in its incredible presentation values. The game is home to some of the best 2D pixel art I’ve seen. Inspired by the SNES era, the characters and environments in Celeste are vibrant and memorable, adding way more visual charm than the genre usually provides. The aforementioned resort level is filled with peeling wallpaper, rusted elevator cages and moonlit mountain views, while a later level set in a temple features spooky totems and spinning torches. These visuals are backed by a stellar score from Lena Raine, whose synthy chiptune beats harken back to the days of Donkey Kong Country. And the adventure is held together by a gorgeous low-poly 3D model of Celeste Mountain that helps to convey the scale and trajectory of the climb.
Celeste is on so many platforms, and it’s $20. Steam for Windows, macOS, Linux. itch for Windows, macOS, Linux. The Nintendo Switch eShop. The PlayStation 4’s store. The Xbox One’s garbage web store that made me log-in just to browse to this game.