On the surface, Celeste is about a woman named Madeline, who is bound and determined to climb Mount Celeste. Before continuing, as always with anything written on this site, there are massive spoilers ahead (basically the entire story). At the time of writing, this game has been out for a week and a half, so I figured I’d add this as a special warning.
As the story unfolds, you discover that Madeline deals with anxiety and depression, and is prone to panic attacks. In the second chapter, a part of her is released into the physical world, and she is forced to confront this “evil doppleganger” throughout the rest of the game.
The other part of Madeline is essentially her anxiety and depression given physical form. The other part often talks down to Madeline and those she encounters. She tells Madeline how useless everything is, that she should give up the climb and just go home, and so on. Madeline struggles with this, sometimes appearing to agree, and then in the next moment, refusing to give up.
At one point, Madeline tells the other part of her that she needs to leave her behind. To let her go. At that announcement, the other part explodes with anger, making herself bigger and more powerful, telling Madeline that she can’t just leave her. And to prove the point, the other part drags her down the mountain.
Still not completely deterred, Madeline starts the climb again. She meets the “crazy old woman” from the beginning of the game, who tells Madeline that the answer isn’t in leaving the other part, but talking to her and figuring out what she’s afraid of. Madeline complies and after their next meeting (following a crazy boss fight type of sequence with the raging other part), Madeline accepts the other part and wants to work together with her. The other part, knowing she won’t be abandoned, accepts the offer.
By accepting this other part of her, Madeline’s abilities improve, and the two make it to the peak of Mount Celeste.
By the end of the game, Madeline has accepted her struggles as part of who she is. Once she realizes the fear and anxiety she faces, she is able to move forward and accomplish her goal. She does this not in spite of what she deals with, but in accordance with who she is, flaws and all.
People are inherently flawed. Some deal with anxiety, some with depression, some with anger, some with addiction, everyone deals with fear at various points – the list goes on. In dealing with these various flaws, we need to stop pretending they don’t exist and learn how to effectively deal with them.
When Madeline tried to leave behind the other part of her (ignore the problem), things only got worse. However, when she accepted the other part of her as part of who she is, she was able to face the problems (doubts, fears, etc.) and climb the mountain.
Madeline also needed help from other people to understand how to overcome the issue. The crazy old woman (who maybe wasn’t so crazy) helped Madeline understand the fear she was facing. Theo, another person Madeline meets along the way, is a source of inspiration and encouragement for her.
Much like Madeline, we need other people in our lives to help us work through our issues. Yes, there are certain things others won’t be able to do for us, but they can still be there with us and support us.
By recognizing our own flaws and struggles, we can start the work to improve ourselves and get a better outlook on life. Not on our own, but together.