Celeste’s Designer Reveals All the Secret Ways the Brutal Platformer Is Surprisingly Forgiving

Celeste’s Designer Reveals All the Secret Ways the Brutal Platformer Is Surprisingly Forgiving

Believe it or not, the mountain knows mercy.

It's difficult to explain the pleasant tactile sensations that come with playing certain games. A game's physics are like its DNA; veteran Mario fans have his jumps committed to muscle memory, same as veteran Sonic the Hedgehog fans have a good feel for Sonic's momentum in his Genesis games.

Matt Thorson, one of the lead creators behind the platforming phenomenon Celeste, describes the sensation as "Game-Feel." Celeste is a game where your success depends on running, jumping, and climbing in a perfect rhythm, so Thorson knows something about the magic that gives a challenging platformer that extra oomph.

Thorson shared some of the tricks that make Celeste so satisfying to play over on their Twitter. While many of the mechanics are common to challenging platformers (Thorson admits they didn't invent them), it's interesting to note how forgiving Celeste actually is. For example, if you're a couple of pixels off when dashing to a corner, you'll clip and land safely even though poor Madeline should technically take a quick, deadly trip down to the base of the mountain. The same forgiveness also applies for semi-solid platforms (wooden platforms, for example).

You also get a lot of leeway for wall jumps. A regular wall jump will still execute if you're two pixels away from the wall—which, as Thorson points out, is generous for a game that plays in 320 by 180 pixels. A "Super Wall Jump" (i.e. a wall jump that you perform while dashing upwards), you get a leeway of five pixels.

Thorson goes on at length, and all of their information should be fascinating for hardcore Celeste players. I certainly do not count amongst the hardcore, but I respect Celeste's intense challenge. If you're really into the myriad ways Celeste can hurt you, check out our interview with the game's sound designer, which reveals how Celeste was made with speedrunners in mind.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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