The TWRM GOTY 2018 Collab has begun! This special event consists of multiple writers making their best cases for their picks for GOTY 2018. Check out each article posted daily from the 1st through the 15th and listen to their points, then on January 16th you will have the opportunity to vote on which game you think should be crowned TWRM GOTY of 2018!
Developer: Matt Makes Games
Publisher: Matt Makes Games
Release Date: January 25th, 2018
Platform/Console: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux
“The following is a contributor post by the Ink-Stained Mage.”
2018 has been the longest year ever. Do you remember that the Olympics were this year? That Black Panther came out THIS YEAR? I know we’re all excited to move on to 2019. Trust me, I get it. But it’s Game of the Year time and I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to remind you about my pick for GOTY. The brilliant, heartfelt, punishing and fun platformer about a girl climbing a mountain, Celeste.
Now please join me as I state my case that Celeste is the best and everyone writing in after me is entitled to their wrong opinion. (I love you all please don’t fire me)
It’s a lovely community. Really though don’t fire me.
Celeste is one of those games that sticks with you. The art, the journey, the gameplay, the frustration, the final gasp and release of air as you take in a breath you didn’t know you were holding, all these things are Celeste.
I covered most of this in my full review a few months back, and you’ll see a lot of those same points in the pros and cons listed below. But the reason that Celeste is 2018’s Game of the Year isn’t necessarily even that it’s the best game that came out this year. It’s that Celeste was the game we needed, or I needed, in the trash fire that was 2018.
I don’t mean to say that 2018 didn’t have some amazing moments, but let’s all agree it was not the best of years. But I think we all learned something about ourselves in 2018. About what it takes when you’re beaten down and life is tough and you make the choice to get back up. The choice to keep going. Because that’s how life gets done. That’s how we thrive and grow and excel and make incredible art. Celeste encompasses that mood.
You’ll die a lot here. But you’ll get. Back. Up.
Ostensibly, Celeste is a game about climbing a mountain. This is something that many people would say is a ludicrous task. Difficult and ultimately pointless. But it’s there. It’s a challenge. It’s something that we yearn to see the top of, and so we do it. Celeste is a punishing game. It will challenge you an frustrate you and demand perfection of you. And it will make you a better person. Not just a better gamer, but a better person. My man Brian David Gilbert at Polygon agrees. (I don’t know him IRL but he reinforces my point so in it goes)
I respect this man so damn much
Like I said, I don’t know if Celeste is the best game of 2018. There are some incredible entries this year. From God of War to Hollow Knight to Pokemon Let’s Go. But Celeste is the game we needed. There’s a concept coined by fantasy author Alexandra Rowland called Hopepunk. Planting seeds in the apocalypse, keeping any water in a glass, fighting because evil is never really gone, these are hopepunk concepts. And it’s something we as a people needed this year to get us into the next one. Read her excellent article for a more thorough primer. Celeste is the most hopepunk game I’ve ever played. It’s about a girl who, despite mental illness and immense physical barriers and dark magic, makes her way up the mountain, saves her friends, and comes to grips with herself.
It’s self-reflective and hopeful without being pretentious and saccharine. It is the game that defines the rebellion and obstinate strength we saw on the streets in 2018. It captures the spirit of the year. And for that reason, among many others, Celeste is my Game of the Year.
It makes me happy. And it gives me hope.
+ Beautiful art style
+ Tight and easy to learn mechanics
+ Lovely story
+ Handles difficult subject matter with aplomb
+ One of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in years
– Difficult. May be a turnoff for more casual fans.
– Charlie Brown Adult voices can get a little grating
The Ink-Stained Mage, aka Andrew Turnwall, sells books, writes microfiction upon topical request every Monday on twitter @AndrewTurnwall, and has an undying love of all things story from books to games to whatever it is his dog and cat are staring at in the corner.
Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to games writing through thoughtful, long-form reviews. We’re a community aspiring to pay our contributors and build a fairer and happier alternative to mainstream games writing and culture. See our Patreon page for more info!