Celeste was released in 2018, and the indie game was a huge hit that garnered critical acclaim. It was the second title from developer Matt Makes Games, and followed 2013’s TowerFall, maintaining the archery fighter’s cute and distinctive pixel art style, but replacing the combat with brutally challenging platform mechanics.
In the years since Celeste, talented creator Maddy Thorson has closed Matt Makes Games, opening new studio Extremely OK Games to take forward her next project. Although no release date is confirmed for the new title, fans eagerly await the next chapter in Thorson’s story to date.
How Celeste Cemented Maddy Thorson as a Gifted Developer
Despite starting life as a PICO-8 game made in just four days, Celeste went on to become a massive success story. It was awarded countless positive reviews following its release, as well as winning the Best Independent Game and Games for Impact awards at The Game Awards 2018. By the end of 2019, it had sold over a million copies, as well as becoming a staple of the speedrunning community.
Some controversy arose when Thorson declared that Celeste’s protagonist, Madeline, is canonically trans, despite this not being explicitly stated in the game. However, most fans have been overwhelmingly supportive of this announcement, which mirrors Thorson’s own journey of self-discovery. The game’s themes of depression and anxiety are also deeply personal to Thorson, and add to the impact of Celeste's moving and thought-provoking storyline.
Celeste is not the first success story that Thorson has masterminded. TowerFall, later expanded and released as TowerFall: Ascension, remains an incredibly popular game, particularly for its frantic local multiplayer battles. In this mode, up to four players attempt to riddle each other with arrows across a series of colorful and interesting maps, and this simple but addictive gameplay propelled the title from its humble beginnings on the Ouya microconsole.
Celeste and TowerFall are rightfully regarded as two of the best indie games of all time, so there is much fan interest in Thorson’s next release. Since re-branding her studio as Extremely OK Games, partly to reflect her own identity journey and to acknowledge that she is now heading up a larger team rather than producing games as a one-person outfit, Thorson has announced that her next title will be Earthblade.
Earthblade is an Intriguing Mystery
The upcoming game from Extremely OK Games is called Earthblade, and is described as “a 2D explor-action game” by the company’s website. However, little more is known about the title, including its release date, which is currently shown only as 20XX.
Even the game’s teaser was described as a “vibe reveal” rather than a full trailer, with the ninety-second clip featuring a slow pan across a single piece of artwork, the game’s logo, and a beautiful and haunting piece of music. However, the accompanying announcement did confirm that the game will once again take players to “a seamless pixel art world,” which will delight fans of Thorson’s previous releases.
Both TowerFall and Celeste are renowned for their stunning retro visuals, and for successfully imbuing their characters with immense personality despite their simple design and tiny onscreen sprites. Sticking to this pixel art style, as well as to the 2D side-scrolling format that has worked so well in her previous releases, seems to be a wise move by Thorson.
The artwork and logo featured in the trailer also appear to make clear that the game will return to TowerFall’s medieval fantasy setting, with swords, tangled vines, and towering gothic spires featuring prominently. Both TowerFall and Celeste incorporated magical elements into their stories, so it is likely that this will also play a major part in Earthblade’s narrative.
With the new game shrouded in mystery, fans will need to wait patiently for more updates on Extremely OK Games’ next project. Whatever Earthblade turns out to be, it is a safe bet that it will be another challenging, charming, and beautiful experience.
Earthblade is currently in development.
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