Celeste's Final Free Chapter Is A Brutal, But Fond Farewell

Celeste's Final Free Chapter Is A Brutal, But Fond Farewell

Celeste gets a beefy new chapter for its last update that's just as intense in difficulty as The Core.

Often when I look at my yearly log of games I played at the end of the year, it's punctuated by a lot of, "Oh yeah, I played that." In our line of work, it's common to forget about the games we review a month or so away from them. Celeste, from Extremely OK Games (before known as Matt Makes Games), never really faded away though. I never 100 percented it, sure, but its perfectly precise platforming has resonated even now over a year and a half later. It's one of the best platformers not just of the past few years, but possibly ever made.

Yesterday, Celeste released its final update: an epilogue chapter entitled "Farewell." It's a free update, and it's only playable for the brave players who finished "The Core" bonus chapter. It's definitely a challenge for only the most skilled Celeste players out there, but of course, there are assist options too that effectively break the game should you need it.

The story for the chapter is a little sad. Madeleine is seen mourning her grandmother, who recently died. When we last left Madeleine, she had learned to accept her darker, other self, embracing her own flaws. The start of Chapter 9 sees her stubborn side returning, pushing out her other half once again. She finds herself convinced that if she catches up to the bird that helped her along her journey up the mountain, she'll be able to bring her grandma back to life.

And thus, the perilous journey begins. Chapter 9 eases you into things, unlike The Core, which throws you into the deep end real quick with its lava and ice mechanics. It's like it knows that you've probably been away from Celeste for some time. Soon, though, Farewell shows that it's not messing around. Before I knew it, I'd get stuck on screens; I'd believe they were impossible even. And then I'd jump and dash right on through it. (With style, of course.)

Celeste's final chapter is reminding me what made Celeste so satisfying in the first place, back when I reviewed it in early 2018. When I tweeted about the new levels, freelance localizer Elliot Gay replied, saying, "I don't know how they did it, but somehow Celeste is filled with these moments for me personally, and I consider myself awful at these kinds of platformers. And yet the game keeps believing in me. And I don't want to disappoint it."

That's precisely why it works. There's no lives system, so there's nothing really holding you back from persevering through the hardship. Celeste can get frustrating at times—especially at its B-Cides, C-Sides, and other extra difficult levels—but as much as it can feel impossible, it really is possible. Take some sequences I struggled with, for instance.

With one of the new mechanics introduced, you discover space pufferfish who you can bounce on to move. If you fall into their line of sight though, they explode and propel you—usually into a bed of deadly spikes. The first few levels introduce how this works, and then it throws you into difficult situations. In one section, you have to bounce on the puffer repeatedly and very precisely so that it falls on a spring, propelling it forward. Your jumps have to be perfect, with barely a hair for error, and you must be careful with your dashes, or else you'll plummet into the electric barrier clouding most of the screen. It took me over an hour to perfect.

The tweet embedded above, situated shortly before the puffer-shepherding, also took me about an hour to fly through. And since then, I've effectively hit a wall with the other new mechanic introduced. With a new space-jellyfish, Madeleine can now glide while grabbing onto the parachute-like creature. I'm having trouble mastering it. I've watched videos already of players tossing it up with a dash, elevating where they are. Meanwhile I can barely get air out of it. Contrary to the puffers, the parachute jellyfish doesn't have many levels of practice time before Celeste expects you to do the unexpected with it in a section similar to the hotel chapter, which allows you to approach a number of levels at whatever order you prefer. It's a mild hinderance, but it's probably enough at this point for me to just look up the chapter's ending on YouTube.

I'm not mad or anything though. I similarly hit a wall in many of the chapters' B and C-Sides. I just accepted, this is the end of the rope for me. I'm good at Celeste, but I'm not that good. I had some nail-biting time with Farewell, but I can't seem to wrap my head around this new parachute ability. And that's a-okay.

For a chapter titled Farewell, it really does feel like a farewell to Celeste. Old mechanics, like the space block from Chapter 2, return. I imagine in the later levels of the chapter, which I don't think I'll ever see, other nods from past chapter make appearances too. Extremely OK Games has already said it's not planning a sequel of any sort, and are already hard at work on its next game. Farewell, then, is the bow on top of a game that probably didn't even need more content; but alas, it's a nice additional nugget for fans of the base game and its many, many collectibles. Chapter 9: Farewell gives more for players to work towards, and I, for one, can't wait to see it in the speedrunning circuit at the next Games Done Quick.

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Caty McCarthy

Features Editor

Caty McCarthy is a former freelance writer whose work has appeared in Kill Screen, VICE, The AV Club, Kotaku, Polygon, and IGN. When she's not blathering into a podcast mic, reading a book, or playing a billion video games at once, she's probably watching Terrace House or something. She is currently USgamer's official altgame enthusiast.

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