Celestia is a regency style sci-fi fantasy indie otome game developed by (my fave) indie dev, Jellyfish Parade for the two-month game jam, Otome Jam 2021. Follow Iluna, a newly awakened Celestial as she descends from her moon to find a partner who will rule the heavens by her side. Among the many glittering stars are three Celestials who catch her eye—a dignified Sun, an enigmatic Black Hole, and a flirtatious Meteor… Choose your partner wisely as your choice will effect not just Iluna, but the fate of the planet she rules…
Iluna [renameable] is the newest moon of the Lunefille system. On behalf of her planet, starless in the darkness, she seeks to find a celestial partner who will rule by her side… and in her heart. Follow this moon’s journey into traditional love alongside a sun, tragic love with a black hole or forbidden love with a meteor in this regency style sci-fi fantasy delight.
– Official Synopsis
Each path has three distinct endings (Best, Neutral, and Bad) and takes between 5 – 8 hours to complete. I highly recommend getting all the endings, because in some cases the Neutral and Bad endings are more fulfilling than the Best endings.
Iluna is a new Celestial and moon guardian who earned her position by saving her world from a great flood that threatened to destroy it. Even among the others of her kind, Iluna is held in high regard for her sacrifice, because of this she has a much stronger attachment to her world and the people that live there. Unlike her fellow Celestials, Iluna keeps a close watch over the people on her world and harbors a keen interest in their everyday lives. She even takes full advantage of her new human form to spend time among the humans, getting to know them on a much more intimate level.
Jellyfish Parade has a knack for developing fun and engaging heroine characters and I am happy to day that Iluna is yet another phenomenal leading lady. Not only is her design absolutely gorgeous (very much befitting a moon goddess), but you can also your choices throughout the game will her personality: Formal, Humble, and Playful.
Lord Solis a dignified and refined sun from a prosperous galaxy. He can be a bit prideful and while he means well he acts exactly the way you’d expect a nobleman to act, which can make him come off a touch insensitive. But, despite that Solis is very warm and friendly person (if not a bit stiff at times). He is secure in his place in the world and in his role as a Celestial, he likes things to be done in a very particular way and he gets frustrated when things don’t go as planned. He is surprisingly close with Sekheo who he sees as a dear friend, buuut, he tends to but heads with the more carefree, Vallendester. While he is usually pretty composed in most situations, he does get flustered from time to time and y’all know I love me a blushing otome man. His route is the more traditional of the three since Iluna is initially looking to pair up with a sun, so in the grand scheme of things, his route is the “happiest”.
I will be honest, I wasn’t really feeling Solis’s route all that much (especially playing his route right after Sekheo’s route), he’s just a bit too prim and proper for my tastes and his sentiments towards humans and rank early on in his route really put me off—he gets better later on, but even then I still felt some type of way about him.
Prince Sekheo is a black hole whose star is on the verge of being extinguished, unlike Solis, he is “not” looking to partner with anyone at the gathering. Despite his cool demeanor, Iluna can’t help but he drawn to the enigmatic Celestial. Black holes are associated said to be harbingers of death, so most humans fear him. Because of his impending demise, he tries to keep his distance from the other Celestials to avoid any unnecessary heartbreak when his star eventually dies. While he gives off the impression that he is fine being alone, deep down, Sekheo is very lonely and wants to make a connection with others. Sekheo is very thoughtful and considerate, putting the needs of others before his own feelings.
It’s made clear from the beginning that choosing Sekheo will only end in tragedy and not gonna lie, his route definitely came with some intense feels… but, he’s just so endearing and sweet. Like Iluna I couldn’t help but want to break through his defenses and shower him with love an affection (if it wasn’t clear this is my fave route).
Vallendester is a meteor who never wanted to be a Celestial, so he gave up his titles for a life traveling the galaxy as a bounty hunter. While he’s usually pretty flirty and carefree, Valle is very vocal about his frustrations towards being a Celestial. His dislike of all things Celestial don’t extend to Iluna, who he shares a close friendship with—he would even often stop by her moon to tell her stories from his travels across the galaxy. I’m usually not a big fan of flirty types, but I love the friendship between Valle and Iluna. Friends to lovers otome routes can be a bit hit or miss, but there’s a lot of fun lighthearted banter and teasing and even though they don’t always see eye to eye, when it counts they have a pretty supportive relationship. Of all the routes in the game, their relationship feels the most natural. He even has a nickname for her, and I couldn’t help but smile every time he called her “Dove”. This is completely off topic, but Valle has some mighty thick thighs and I spend a good bit of my playthrough staring respectfully at him.
Valle’s route explores a bit more about Iluna than the other routes, particularly, her life prior becoming a Celestial which I loved. It adds a bit more to the world building while still being relevant to the relationship between Iluna and Valle.
Tidekeeper Iluna Lunefille, the newest Celestial descends from her moon and takes on a human form for the first time in her existence, to attend a week-long celebration in which she and others like her will choose a partner who will rule with them in their respective galaxies. Though she is new to her role as a Celestial, she cares deeply for the humans living on the world she is sworn to protect. She is eager to choose the right partner not just for herself but for the well-being of the charges in her care. At the celebration three particular Celestials catch Iluna’s eye—Solis, a dignified Sun; Sekheo, a guarded Black Hole; and Vallendester, a free-spirited Meteor.
It’s all a delight for the eyes, and I like that while the clothing is very much grounded in the Regency style, there are fun design choices throughout that harken back to the characters’ celestial roots. Solis wears a crimson and gold suit befitting his title as a lord, but with fun flame embellishments that call back to his true form as a literal sun. Then there’s Sekheo, whose dark attire and black star studded cape lend themselves not only to his more reserved brooding disposition, but also his status as a black hole. And who can forget the leading lady, Iluna and her gorgeous flowing gown of blue and gold very much in keeping with the soft glow of moonlight. Simply gorgeous!
I will admit that Celestia has a similar vibe to another indie game I’ve played, My Only Sunshine—where you play as a sun looking a choose a partner from among the planets of our solar system (Earth, Mars, Venus, etc.). However, Celestia moves beyond our small cluster of stars to explore the far reaches of space, giving players the chance to romance (and befriend) lesser explored space entities like black holes and meteors and it is this that gives this game that extra leg up. Space is vast and far too often we box ourselves in by focusing on the our immediate solar system, don’t get me wrong there is a lot of great storytelling capabilities from within that bubble, but in going beyond our galaxy, Celestia paves the way for it’s own unique lore and worldbuilding.
Celestia both borrows from and expands upon existing planetary and celestial fact—Iluna, a moon maintains the tides, while Solis, a sun brings light and warmth to the worlds under his care—which is pretty in line with the roles their real world counterparts perform. But built into that is a sort of mysticism and lore that is wholly unique to this story. Iluna and the rest of the cast aren’t just embodiments of their respective celestial bodies, they are “Celestials”, a group of galactic guardians chosen by the Great Cosmos to protect and preserve the balance of their respective worlds; more in keeping with demigods or like Yue from Avatar the Last Airbender. They live for eons as benevolent beings bringing light and life to the worlds they protect, only taking on human form once a century to choose a celestial partner to rule by their side. Why they were chosen and their purpose is unique to each Celestial and while the game focuses on Iluna and her relationship with each of the LIs, the various routes in the game do explore the histories of each of her potential partners. Expanding not just on their personal backgrounds and personalities, but also adding to what we know about the world of the game. I am a sucker for good worldbuilding and Celestia had me really invested in these characters and their world (I really hope Jellyfish Parade decides to expand on this world in future releases… pretty please). I do want to point out that like many of Jellyfish Parade’s other releases, Celestia does feature a diverse cast of characters—and you all know how I live for representation in my games!
When I say I love the characters, I mean I love the characters in this game! Iluna is a wonderful heroine, she fulfills the role as a stand in for the player, but also the agency I have come to expect in my indie otome games. It’s not uncommon for otome heroines to be overshadowed by their much more dynamic love interests, but in Celestia, Iluna more than holds her own among the main cast. She challenges her love interests, calling them out on their biases and even flirts with them (which leads to some fun blushing). Iluna is definitely a much stronger heroine, but I also like that she is allowed to be vulnerable too, which makes for as much more natural feeling romantic dynamic between her and her chosen partner. More emphasis is put on the interactions between the characters as opposed to the destination and even though the story takes place over the course of just 10 days, you really feel like each outcome (whether it’s a good ending or a not so great one) fits in with where the characters are at the end of the story. Also, even if you aren’t pursuing a particular LI they do show up in the other routes in a more supportive role and I won’t lie, I liked some characters (read: Solis) better as side characters than I did as actual love interests.
Storywise, I was more invested in Sekheo’s route (he is the Emo bae of my heart) than the others because there were real tangible consequences for choosing him as a lover and even in his best ending there is a bit of bittersweetness to their “happily ever after”. Also brooding handsome men are my weakness and I liked seeing Iluna slowly breakdown his defenses and finally get him to open up to her. Coming in at a close second is Valle’s route, I’m a sucker for fun down to Earth LIs and I just really liked how natural his relationship with Iluna felt throughout—there’s also a really cool reveal in his route that adds to the overall narrative. And then there’s Solis… I love his design, but he just didn’t do it for me. He is very much a traditional “lord”: prideful and just a smidge condescending, he isn’t a bad guy, but some of the things he says in his route had me yelling “YOUR PRIVELEGE IS SHOWING” at the game. But, I will admit that seeing him get flustered was kinda cute….
Now for the serious stuff: Celestia was created in about 2 months for the 2021 Otome Jam, which is a much shorter development time than you’d expect to see for a project like this. In spite of that, the team did a great job with the time that they had—there were some fun features like the character sprites moving to mimic dancing during the ballroom scene (even if it did go out of sync midway through) and the blinking eyes was a nice little detail. From the starry moonlit sky UI to the gorgeous sprite work to the chibi CGs, the art assets for this game was great (though there was a hilarious bug where Iluna’s clothes disappeared in Sekheo’s route). There are CGs at the end of each route, which are nice, but I’m assuming because of the time crunch, they had more of a sketchy feel than I’m used to in games like this. The writing is well done, it has a more refined cadence to it that fits with the Regency vibes of the story.
So this one is a no brainer, I love Celestia! If I didn’t know any better I would have thought this was a normal release and not a game that was made in just under 2-months! Of course there were a few bugs (which is to be expected), but even taking that into consideration, this is a really great game that I gladly would have thrown my money at!
I’ve played just about every Jellyfish Parade game to date and each one brings with it a wholly original narrative adventure. From a sci-fi superhero drama to a high fantasy job hunts and even a modern day slice-of-life romance—the team behind Celestia has more than proved their ability to think outside the box with their stories. Celestia takes the social sensibilities and style of the Regency era and blends it with the imaginative possibilities and rich worldbuilding of the sci-fi genre. Think Pride and Prejudice meets Sailor Moon(minus the magical girls)—suns and moons are reimagined as lords and ladies in regal attire while, opulent ballrooms and lavish estates replace the star studded heavens. It’s a fantasy romance unlike any other and I highly recommend playing this game… like right now!
Otome Jam, is a two-month game jam that is held from May 1st to July 1st where developers are challenged to create an otome game in the allotted time frame. The game jam is open to newbie devs and veterans alike and every year I am blown away by the submissions—this year there were 28 submissions ranging from short cozy romance games to longer drama filled experiences.