Celeste Features a Really Cool, Deliberate Design Choice Regarding Difficulty

Celeste Features a Really Cool, Deliberate Design Choice Regarding Difficulty

It's all about pacing.

Celeste is one of the early frontrunners for best games of 2018 (early I know but our review says otherwise). The indie platformer is kind of like a mix of Pixel games like Cave Story and Kero Blaster with high-difficulty platformers like Super Meat Boy. But Designers at Matt Makes Games made a very conscious decision of fine-tuning difficulty for sake of the game's overall pacing as director Matt Thorson revealed in a reddit AMA about the difficulty grading throughout the game.

When asked by user "junkmail 22" whether the decision to make the visually complicated levels play easier than some of the more simpler looking levels was intentional, Thorson replied in the affirmative.

"This was deliberate - if a room is very hard to execute, I tend to make it easer to figure out and vice versa, otherwise it can start to feel impossible for a lot of people." This was because, as Thorson says, of the flow of the game. "Pacing is very important in the main story of Celeste because the feeling of the platforming has to mirror the narrative."

Thorson also cites the different kinds of challenges in Celeste that affect pacing, and should be taken into account while designing the game. Whether the difficulty is a result of a hard puzzle, a large area, or a portion that requires precise platforming.

While Celeste is certainly difficult, it's also very accessible. The game features a comprehensive Assist Mode which can be fine-tuned to best help you beat the game, without making it feel condescending or too easy. The assist mode is literally just that, an assist.

Either way, it's clear that the developers of Celeste poured a lot of attention into the difficulty of the game to make sure that the challenges, while great are ultimately surmountable. Which is just a testament to good game design really.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Matt Kim

News Editor

Matt Kim is a former freelance writer who's covered video games and digital media. He likes video games as spectacle and is easily distracted by bright lights or clever bits of dialogue. He also once wrote about personal finance, but that's neither here nor there.

In other news

Rev Up Those Next-Gen Hype Cycles

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Can Sony's PS5 game showcase announcement finally get us excited for the new systems?

A Sonic Movie Sequel Is Off to the Races

Looks like the writers and director are coming back too.

For Lego Super Mario, Getting Power-Ups Will Cost You Extra

Four individual "Power-Up Packs" are launching alongside the starter set.

Nintendo Switch Online Getting Four More Classic Games, Including Rygar

Also Panel de Pon, a win for those who are too cool for Tetris Attack.

Need help?

Super Mario Odyssey Power Moon Locations Walkthrough, Unlock Secrets in Each Kingdom, Collectibles Guide

The complete guide and walkthrough to collecting all power moons in Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch. Plus how to unlock the secret characters and kingdoms, and metal cubes/moon rocks explained. Find the power moons in Cap Kingdom, Cascade Kingdom, Sand Kingdom, Wooded Kingdom, Lake Kingdom, Cloud Kingdom, Lost Kingdom, Metro Kingdom, Seaside Kingdom, Snow Kingdom, Luncheon Kingdom, Ruined Kingdom, Bowser's Kingdom, Moon Kingdom, and Mushroom Kingdom.

Mario Maker 2 The Keymaster Walkthrough

Not all of the levels in Super Mario Maker are created equal. Here’s how to clear the devilishly difficult Keymaster stage.

Super Mario Odyssey Moons - All Power Moon Locations Walkthrough, Unlock Secrets in Each Kingdom, Collectibles Guide

The complete guide and walkthrough to collecting all power moons in Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch. Plus how to unlock the secret characters and kingdoms, and metal cubes/moon rocks explained. Find the power moons in Cap Kingdom, Cascade Kingdom, Sand Kingdom, Wooded Kingdom, Lake Kingdom, Cloud Kingdom, Lost Kingdom, Metro Kingdom, Seaside Kingdom, Snow Kingdom, Luncheon Kingdom, Ruined Kingdom, Bowser's Kingdom, Moon Kingdom, and Mushroom Kingdom.