There's a popular theory that video game soundtracks make great background music when you need to work or study. The idea is that the music is designed to motivate you without being distracting, but that's not always the case. A lot of video game soundtracks can be over the top, obnoxious, or just plain bad — then there's Celeste.
Celeste is a new platformer video game (imagine a 2D Mario side-scroller, but starring a red-headed woman who struggles with depression while attempting to climb a mystical mountain in Canada). It's a beautiful game with amazing art and an incredible soundtrack that perfectly matches the rest of the experience.
The music, created by electronic artist and video game composer Lena Raine, is great enough to stand on its own as an album. But because it's a video game soundtrack with no lyrics and building climaxes designed to push the player through difficult sections, it's also perfect background noise for getting work done.
I've been listening to the Celeste soundtrack pretty much non-stop for the past few days. When I'm not actually playing the game I put it on in the background to write. I even listened to it last night while riding the subway into Manhattan to meet some friends.
Celeste's music is a mix of electronic sounds and piano, with some other instruments like guitar and a theremin-style synth slipped in occasionally. Many of the tracks start with a slow simple melody, adding layer after layer until they reach an incredible high designed to push you through some of the game's toughest moments.
"Resurrections," the song embedded above, is one of my favourites, and in an interview, Raine describe the nearly 10-minute track as "almost like a full suite of music by itself." I also love "Reach for the Summit," one of the soundtrack's later songs with a frantic, exuberant beat to match the game's final moments.
"Scattered and Lost" is beautiful and fast-paced with a spacey feel to it, while "Check In" slows down the action but maintains a steady beat to keep you focused.
You won't regret it, just don't blame me if you end up addicted to the game as well.