Celeste: Interview with Matt Makes Games

As you probably know, Friday will see Celeste, the much-anticipated 2D platformer from the creators of Towerfall, release on Xbox One! We asked Matt Thorson from Matt Makes Games to tell us JUST HOW HARD the game will be (and other stuff, too)!

Celeste is a hardcore platformer, right?

Celeste is a difficult game to be sure. The main story mode is designed to be challenging but fair, and you’ll die a lot along the way. What’s the point of climbing a mountain if it doesn’t challenge you, right?

Fair enough! Do you have any advice for gamers who get intimidated by high difficulty levels (LIKE ME)?

Keep going! Celeste is a hard game, but it also wants you to succeed. We spent a lot of time playtesting and balancing the difficulty of the main story mode so that players from a wide range of skill levels can enjoy it and make progress. But if it proves too difficult for you, we included a special Assist Mode. When you activate Assist Mode, you gain a few options that you can use to tweak the difficulty of the game. You can slow down the game speed, give yourself infinite climbing stamina, or more to tweak the difficulty so that it’s right for you.

What about players who LOVE a challenge?

There’s a ton of secrets and hidden strawberries for skilled climbers to hunt down. And if you’re really confident, there’s a whole set of incredibly difficult “B-Side” chapters to unlock that will really test the limits of your platforming abilities.

How have you modernized the classic platformer approach in Celeste?

The platformer genre has been around for a while, and there’s a lot of outdated ideas and conventions they often rely on. Things like extra lives and Game Over states are unnecessary and annoying for players in this kind of game. In general, we’re very careful not to waste the player’s time, and let you play at your own pace—whether that pace is slow or very fast. Celeste is also a modern platformer in the literal sense—it tells a personal story that takes place in 2018. There are characters with smartphones, who talk like normal people talk today.

Speaking of that personal story, the game is a heartfelt one, with Celeste confronting her inner demons during her long climb up the mountain. What came first during the game’s creation, the story or the mechanics?

Our initial concept for Celeste was just “a platformer about a girl climbing a mountain.” The mechanics came first, and as we developed the game we were surprised to see how big a part of the game the narrative was becoming. In the end, narrative ended up becoming the center of the game that the rest is built around, and we’re really proud of the story Celeste tells.


Celeste will release on Xbox One on Friday (January 26). Stay tuned for more awesome!

Happy Gaming,
Suzanne Wallace
ID@Xbox Community Manager