Celeste will make you better at every video game | Polygon’s 2018 Games of the Year
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Celeste will make you better at every video game | Polygon’s 2018 Games of the Year

September 16, 2019


One of the coolest things about Celeste, a
game about climbing a mountain, is how similar it is to actually climbing a mountain. And it is this similarity that will make you
better not only at Celeste, but at every other video game you ever play. I grew up rock climbing. And although this does not make me an expert on the subject, it does mean I know the jargon. So allow me to explain two climbing concepts. First is the “beta” of a climb. This is the information about the route up
the wall. Sure, you could heave yourself up, but if
you know the beta, you know the most effective path. You’ve figured out the puzzle. Second is the “crux:” the hardest part
of the climb. Sometimes, you’ll have a super easy intro,
and halfway through the route, you get stuck on a really hard move. You may be able to complete the intro 20 times
before you can get past the crux once. You won’t know how hard the rest of the
climb will be until you get past that point. Celeste’s stages are built off of these
two principles. Let’s take this dastardly strawberry as
our example. When you start this stage, you know that, one: You can’t touch these scary edges. And two: The floors with the red tendrils will turn
into the scary edges when you step on them. With these two pieces of info, you start to
flesh out the beta of the stage, the puzzle you’re trying to solve. If you’re skilled, you can walk over, jump
on these two landings, and easily grab the strawberry, but you won’t be able to get
through the floor you previously walked on. If you dash over the walkway, you can grab
the strawberry, but then how do you get up onto the two landings without dying? These two approaches apply in real-life climbing as well. I cannot tell you how many beefcakes would
walk into the gym, ask to be put on the hardest climb, and burn themselves out
just trying to do pull-ups the entire way up. And it was always hilarious. This is skill without knowledge. But some genius who knew how to get up the
wall might lose grip strength halfway. That’s knowledge without skill. Eventually, when you combine these two, you
can make it through the crux. You’ve solved the beta of the stage, and
you’ve got the skill. But you’re not done yet. The beauty of Celeste is that when you die,
you only get sent back to the beginning of that screen, so you try and try and try, and
eventually, you make it through. Try, die, learn a bit, and get better at those
moves. Celeste doesn’t teach you how to push buttons
correctly, it teaches you how to solve a problem. And this makes you a better gamer. And a better person. Celeste makes you a better person. After beating Celeste I played Hollow Knight
and Mega Man 11. Two games I would have given up on and thrown
into the garbage had I not played Celeste first. Because while most games make you grind to
improve your character, Celeste makes you grind to improve yourself. When you succeed, you keep that skill and
that knowledge. And just like in real climbing, when you
go back to a route you’ve already completed, you ask yourself “how did I ever struggle with
this?” And that’s when you know… you have become
the genius beefcake. And that is what makes Celeste so amazing. I mean, that along with all of the incredible soundtrack work. And the sprite-work. And the level design in general. And all of the conversations you have with Theo. And Badeline, too. Pretty much all of the Badeline stages are amaz… Everything about this game is so goddamn good.

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  1. I've replayed this video a few times already. You're basically describing "trial-and-error gameplay" which is common in platformer games.
    You're treating your viewers like idiots here.

  2. Cool, now I know theres alot other ways to solve parts from Celeste(i solved that part by jumping only the nearest flat near the berry, jump once then airdashed further 2 the left of it)

  3. You 100% picked the right screen for this micro essay. Took me forever but I could actually FEEL my brain learning and figuring it out.

  4. Exactly! Hollow Knight was so much easier after beating Celeste, Path of Pain was a piece of cake and NKG took me less then it took for most people

  5. This is nothing ground breaking. Every trial and error videogame does this.
    The only cute or worthwhile part of this video is learning those videogames align with IRL stuff.

    2:30 This is why nobody takes videogame journalism serious anymore
    2:38 Most games ™

    To sum this video up: idiot accidentally plays a good game for once and thinks he struck gold or something, idk.

  6. I made a normal jump to the strawberry and used the dash to return to the same platform (avoiding the stepped part, obviously), it is much easier that way.

  7. Hey Polygon / Brian! Could you pleeeease enable community contributions for these videos? I would have wanted to submit a Finnish translation of this video just so I could share it with my tweenage nephew who's super into rock climbing and video games. ❤️

  8. i actually really enjoy your commentary and while i cant say the same about cause we have never met i hope i would like you and find you just as enjoyable im sure i would tho you seem like awesome dude

  9. … or will make you rage quit if you´re not patient enough. Celeste is no walk in the park BUT it´s a rewarding game

  10. Actually when I saw this video and before you talked about Hollow Knight, after each sentence I was like, this is true for Hollow Knight. Actually I think this is true for most of the hard games but Celeste is the metaphor of these thoughts. Currently still trying the epic boss rush of Hollow Knight. Celeste and HK are wonderful video games <3

  11. Yes, Celeste borrows from a lot of other games design wise. Dark Souls in being tough but fair, Super Meat Boy in the ultra tight 2D platforming, and so on. The difference is in the tone and the narrative that explicitly tackles inner demons like anxiety and depression, which are growing increasingly common. The game doesn't judge you for changing your settings to make things easier (indeed, it's revolutionary for even offering that option compared to its spiritual ancestors) and the music is specifically composed to keep you uplifted and motivated. If Madeline can overcome her struggles with your help, maybe she can help you with yours.

  12. I dunno if the title is completely true, but I did find Pure Vessel a lot easier after dragging myself though 3 C-Sides and all the B-Sides

  13. Comparing Celeste to the most difficult sport climbing route of all time only completed by Adam Ondra.. 😀 Love it!

  14. A game that has a similar outlook in a very different style, is The Witness. You keep edging forward, nothing is explained to you, you solve one puzzle then another and you slowly build on your knowledge and problem solving skills.

  15. 1:00 omfg I just did this part and it took forever to get the inputs right. It made me realize that one of the reasons people might get good at speed running is so that they can get to the hard stuff quicker after dying a million times lol. After a bunch of tries I could consistently and very quickly get through the beginning half of the room up to the crux of landing on the ledges so that the tendrils would allow me to pass the second time. That was a bitch to get because I had to actually git gud at inputting minute inputs while in the air, otherwise I would either keep running into death of touching too many tendrils. By the time I got the strawberry, the latter part of the room wasn't that hard cause I had a shitload of practice with air movement now haha

    Definitely one of my favourite parts of the game. Nice video.

  16. Awesome take on Celeste and gaming in general and I see your points completely. There have been MULTIPLE times in HK that I've wanted to kick my screen because I suck so bad at these games, but this video has given me some hope.

  17. "Most games make you grind to improve your character" whaaaaaat? Are you playing only RPGs and mobile games? Also, good RPGs are not about grinding but about strategy and decisions, so only MMO and mobile are left.

  18. Dear BDG,
    I got celeste two days ago, already finished the main story, and got enough crystal hearts to start The core. I really get why you like it so much.
    PS: Yes, Badeline rocks.

  19. I don't know when I first watched this video, but it was before I ever played Celeste. Now, I've played it, and I've completed the story. I'm currently working on collecting them berries, and when I came across chapter 3, I remembered this video. I remembered the beta for that berry, but I forgot the video, and now I find myself, here, back at this video, completely by accident. Anyway, figured I should thank BDG for helping me become the genius beefcake, while I'm here. Thanks, Brian David Gilbert! <3 😀

  20. So bbecause i"ve played Celeste i am better at a completly different Game for Example Civ VI , i don"t think so or how about Overwatch can I now magicaly Aim better and am i able to communicate with my team ? I don"t think so Polygon is again jsut out for the clickbait without any substance to the video.

  21. this is the first bdg video i watched outside of unraveled and it convinced me to buy celeste and i am so glad i did

  22. Thats not the only way to get that strawberry. You can just jump at it and dash backwards onto the platform you just jumped off.

  23. But damn it you gave it a miserable 8 isn´t right? this is a 10 through and through I play since 1983 and this is one of the best ever!

  24. 2:20 "Celeste doesn't teach you how to push buttons correctly…"

    The utter horseshit timing required to beat the B-Sides and C-Sides say otherwise. This game makes Mega Man X6 look like Barney's Hide and Seek.

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