Celeste: First Impressions

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When Celeste was released earlier this year I noticed it gained traction surprisingly quickly on /r/NintendoSwitch so I was keen to check it out. Funny enough, when the game was announced during the Nintendo Mini-Direct alongside Fe I was actually more interested in the former, but as the tables turned I’ve now beaten Celeste (not 100%) and haven’t even touched Fe yet. Be warned, as this entry will include spoilers regarding the storyline so if you don’t want to see that then feel free to read this at another time.

Story

The storyline of Celeste centers around a woman named Madeline in her quest to reach the peak of Celeste Mountain. During her travels, she stumbles upon several side-characters that she gets more aquainted with as the journey progresses. The game also tackles elements such as anxiety and depression, and takes quite a realistic approach in doing so. The dialogue is very well-written, and quite humorous at times as well. The characters are likable. It all really comes together and adds to the charm that in turn keeps the player invested and motivated to push onwards.

Presentation

Celeste looks very visually pleasing, in my opinion. Backgrounds are nicely fleshed out, the colors are vibrant, the character designs are very true to their concept design and I especially like how they’re displayed in the dialogue prompts. The attention to detail is reminiscent of Shovel Knight. I had no frame drops throughout my playthrough either, the game is silky smooth in that regard. Overall, I have no complaints concerning the presentation of this game.

 

Gameplay

For me, the gameplay is another aspect that really shines through with Celeste. It’s a hards-as-nails 2D platformer, think Super Meat Boy or I Wanna Be The Guy style of gameplay in a way. The thing that gets me with Celeste’s gameplay though, is that it feels incredibly fair throughout.

The level design is intricate enough to teach players how to navigate through the screens by introducing new gimmicks without being overbearing. It gives you time to adapt to a new style, and then ups the ante once you’ve got the hang of things. Along with really tight controls, it ends up being that much more satisfying in terms of truly feeling in control of your actions. Every death feels like your fault as opposed to being a cheap trick played by the game at your expense. On top of that, for newcomers who aren’t used to slightly unforgiving platformers there’s an assist mode that allows you to add handicaps of sorts such as changing the in-game speed and making Madeline invulnerable.

As you scale the mountain, your deaths symbolise the effort you’ve put into reaching the top with Madeline and it’s almost as though your goals intertwine. It’s similar to a Dark Souls mentoring approach.

Extras

I wouldn’t usually add this category, but in terms of sheer replayability this game is jam-packed with extra content. Dispite the main campaign not being the longest thing out there, there’s tons of addition challenges. Optional collectibles such as Strawberries are placed in each level waiting to be collected, and some of them are a nightmare to collect. The game even outright states “these are just for impressing your friends”, leaving the choice of putting in the extra work in your hands.

Alongside the Strawberries, there’s also cassette tapes that can prove to be quite tough to find. However, if you manage you’ll unlock a whole new version of the world you were referred to as a “B-Side”. From there on you can even unlock a “C-side” if you’re so inclined. Now, the difficulty does get pretty high once you decide the tackle the B and C-sides, so do expect an insane amount of deaths if you decide to tackle these optional bonus worlds.

Another fact worth keeping in mind is the existence of Crystal Hearts. I believe there are eight in total, and honestly you might need a guide to find some of them because a few are them are very well hidden. In fact, collecting some of these opens an optional additional chapter so it might well be worth the effort to find them.

Finally, in one of the chapters there’s a prototype of the original game hidden somewhere I won’t specify. It was a nice touch of the developers to include it as a nod to the game’s original roots. You can really see how much it has truly progressed since then.

Overall:

I enjoyed this game so much more than I initially thought I would. Kudos to the dev team for starting off the gaming year of 2018 so well! I’ve heard talks about a potential level editor being added later on via a patch, and I’d love to tinker around with that. For $20, Celeste is a steal in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PSVR Impressions: The Playroom VR

Along with Farpoint I looked into the free experiences on PSN that utilized PSVR and noticed a game titled “The Playroom VR” and gave it a shot. I had a lot more fun than I expected, especially given the fact that The Playroom is designed more as a family-oriented game or something to bust out when you have friends over to win them over to VR.

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The game itself has numerous minigames, some of which can be played on your own and others which are more geared at people playing alongside others. An example of this would be Wanted, where you’re a gunslinger visiting an old fashioned saloon and trying to figure out which one of the characters is the culprit. The way the multiplayer is integrated is quite creative, as your friends can give you information regarding the identity of the culprit from outside of the headset and relay it to you. It reminds me of the mechanics from “Shut Up And Nobody Explodes” in a sense.

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There’s also Monster Escape, which has you play as a Godzilla variant wrecking havoc upon a city. I found this one quite compelling as it tracks your head movements, so you can actually head-butt buildings. That being said, I would advise freeing up a lot of space around you before attempting this mini-game in particular seeing as you could easily cause yourself an injury otherwise.

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Easily my favorite of the bunch was Robot Rescue, which plays as a traditional 3D platformer in many ways, but implements VR mechanics in a very non-gimmicky fashion that truly increases the replay value and makes you wish this was an actual full-length game. The Dualshock controller plays quite a huge role in this entry, as it is literally used as a form of progression in-game. A hook can be shot out of the controller and attached to provide a tightrope for the character to walk on. An interesting addition is the fact that the game technically isn’t being played in third person, even though you have an overhead perspective of the robot character you’re controlling because if enemies collide with the camera it ends up damaging you as well. So essentially, you’re controlling another character while in the first person view of the character guiding the robot character. Is that confusing enough for ya?

Throughout Robot Rescue you collect small coins, but some are unobtainable unless you’re playing with friends so if you’re a completionist of sorts you might want to invite a few friends along for the ride. As mentioned previously, the game ends way too soon and has a surprising amount of potential as a stand-alone title. I’d say for the price of free, this mini-game alone makes this title definitely worth downloading if you own a PSVR.

 

 

 

 

PSVR Impressions: Farpoint

Hi there! I’ve just recently acquired a PSVR and have tried it out a bit so I’m going to write out my first impressions of it. If you don’t know what it is, it’s essentially a VR headset designed for certain PS4 games that support VR.

 

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In either case, it came with a game called Farpoint. Seeing as I haven’t used any other HMDs (Head-mounted display) as opposed to the Oculus DK2 prior to this I was surprised by how quickly I got immersed. The intro was especially breath-taking. I really liked how accurately the game tracked the in-game gun I was holding during gameplay. The bundle I purchased came with a separate accessory specifically for the gun, but I didn’t want to knock everything over so I went with the Dualshock controller instead. In case you’re wondering how that works, the Playstation Camera tracks your controller while you’re playing and has it serve as the weapon while playing.

Some neat mechanics have been added to the weapon in order to add a little variety. A scanner is incorporated into the rifle as well to give the player the option to utilize it for plot development purposes in certain areas. I also liked the fact that if you lean your head towards the center of the rifle, you can actually use the iron-sight. It’s a nice touch that adds a layer of interactivity to the gunplay.

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While playing the game I did feel a little tense at times due to the devs getting into the habit of regularly sending spiders your way at the worst of times. You wouldn’t think that it would be that bad, but once you’re in the game world it can be a definite concern at times. Most definitely wouldn’t recommend this game if you have arachnophobia.

That being said, the surroundings are gorgeous and in my opinion a great way to introduce a newcomer to VR. A lot of times I’d just look around in awe and observe the environmental effects and take in the vistas far beyond.

I also didn’t get motion sick from playing the game, which is a definite plus. It’s designed around your player not being able to turn around completely, but you still get the chance to observe your whereabouts by looking around. I’d describe it in a similar fashion to a walking simulator in terms of movement options.

Overall, I found this game to be a great introduction into the world of PSVR and a blast to play through. Just, y’know, be vary of spiders. They’ll straight up lunge at you.