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Celeste team cancels Skytorn, a Metroidvania years in the making

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‘There’s a bunch of reasons, but the main one is … Skytorn just never figured out what it was’

Game designer Noel Berry, member of the team behind 2018 hit Celeste, has canceled one of his most anticipated projects. The Metroidvania-style game Skytorn is no longer in development, Berry announced over the weekend.

“Having worked on the game for several years we constantly struggled with what the game was,” Berry wrote in a post on Medium. “To its core it was a procedurally generated adventure game without permadeath, but the procedural elements always clashed with the Metroidvania themes, and I didn’t know how to design around that.”

A 2016 preview shows Skytorn — which began development in 2012, with a devlog keeping an excited public apprised of progress over the years — as a game set in a randomized cave full of monsters and machinery. (Think a much darker Celeste, if in need of comparison.) Beautiful early concept art featured a predominantly female cast of adventurers.

Artwork from Skytorn Noel Berry/Medium

Skytorn just never quite gelled into something the team felt confident in.

“But we kept working on it, polishing it, adding art and content, to what was ultimately a broken core,” Berry wrote. “I thought that we could keep working on it and be able to restructure the gameplay as we went, as we really figured it out. But at some point you have all these systems and then changing anything at the lower level becomes a lot of work.”

With Celeste taking precedence in 2017, they put Skytorn on pause. Now the core Skytorn group is done with Celeste, but Berry said it feels better for them to move forward onto something else.

“As much as we all love Skytorn and how much it’s meant to us over the last several years, we’re excited for new things and new projects. I’m okay saying it was an amazing learning experience, and we’ll take all these lessons onto our next project.”

We’ll hear more about what’s next in 2019, along with additional content for game of the year-contender Celeste.