Firewatch – I wish I was playing Overwatch
Firewatch – Review
Firewatch is a game which is brought to you by the newly formed studio, Campo Santo. This new studio is comprised of multiple semi-indie developers, some of which are lead developers of the Telltale franchise of games and many other developers who have worked on games such as 30 Flights of Loving, Mark of the Ninja and Gone Home. Firewatch is a first-person traversal of the woods simulator in which the lead protagonist is trying to escape the responsibility of his wife whom has succumbed to a disabling disease. The first few minutes of the game opens with you and your wife and how you came to the position you are currently in, within the wilderness.
One of the few, if any, mechanics in this game is the navigation of the fairly linear, but beautiful Shoshone landscape. The navigation involves using a map and compass, which I believe for the first few hours was unnecessary due to the very navigable environment and great level design. There is also an option if you wish to disable your current location on the map, which is totally up to you, but for the last parts of the game I would recommend leaving your location on as some regions came become somewhat generic and are more difficult to navigate.
The best parts of this game are the writing, the voice acting and the artwork. I would argue that the writing in Firewatch is some of the best I’ve seen in a while as it follows you (Henry) and your supervisor, Delilah and the strange relationship between them as they never meet face-to-face. This brings up some interesting situations involving trust, expectations and truly knowing somebody. The game starts off quite slowly at the beginning by introducing you to the main characters and the environment but gets progressively deeper and deeper as you start to uncover strange occurrences and it eventually turns into a quasi-drama mystery by the middle of the game and makes you begin question Delilah and your actions.
Your actions and what you say don’t serve any conclusive differences to the main storyline, but it does affect your interactions between you and Delilah, in fact it may influence her responses for the rest of the game. But I don’t believe that this game should be penalised for your choices not having any influence over the main plot, because I see this game as a RPG. Yes an RPG. You are role-playing as this character in which you can build him up from a blank personality and create a morality for this character starting from the first minute of the game. Another reason I see this as an RPG is because there is minimal game interaction and a lot of dialogue options from which you can choose. You are able to name a pet turtle, choose to keep the boom box, destroy it, or just leave it, and the fact that you can either pick up litter or leave it, or that you can find notes scattered in supply boxes. These are character building choices as they have no direct influence over anything but you as the player, which some may find as unnecessary, whereas I find quite appealing as the only thing that made me keep going was the storyline, characters and how pretty the world itself was to look at.
As for the ending, I would have like to have seen some more resolutions and the theories which you may have been speculating earlier on will most likely not be true as it ends not with a ‘bang’ but with a ‘prrrt’. I was hoping that some of the books which were scattered everywhere would be clues as to what would happen nearing the end as many of them were murder-mysteries and crime thrillers. I also wish that the core gameplay loop would be a little more engaging because holding W for 30 minutes straight at times can become somewhat monotonous. Overall I believe that this game should be given credit for the implementation of the radio dialogue and its use for the environment, the writing and the phenomenal voice acting. I would also recommend buying it when it goes on sale as the money – time – enjoyment ratio might be underwhelming to some. If you aren’t a fan of stories in games and enjoy mechanics more than the theme, music and writing then I wouldn’t recommend this game for you as its mechanics are somewhat lacklustre and the payoff is underwhelming.