Community Review: Firewatch

Firewatch is just interesting from the very start.

From the beautifully written introduction, making choices. Choices that just instantly invest you in everything Firewatch has to offer. From the intro screen even, which is just stark, cold and gorgeous.

From the moment you investigate a disturbance and find two skinny dipping teenagers that berate you for being a pervy, overweight middle-aged man. It's weird, a video game has never made me feel like that before: like a weirdo. Uncomfortable. It really forces a sense of self-loathing on you.

I've played very little of the game so far, but that moment really struck me. The writing rang true, the reactions rang true. Already Firewatch made me experience something new in a video game, something a little subversive even.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to playing more. How are you enjoying Firewatch?


    I really liked Firewatch. I agree with most of the reviews I saw, in that the ending is a little disappointing, but it's not like that takes away the enjoyment I had throughout the rest of the game. During the last third there were bits where I felt genuinely tense, and started worrying about everything I did (though that may have been the ludicrous amounts of caffeine I'd consumed talking), and that's pretty damn new for me from a game.

    Also, its writing and VA quality was really quite wonderful. Good game, well recommended, assuming you look at it and think you'd like it, which is a dumb recommendation, but shutup.

    The PS4 theme has been lovely to look at (haven't had a chance to play it yet)

    Firewatch is must experience imo. And i do consider it more of an experience than a game, since as far as i could tell, there was never anything you could fail(ie, no gameover type events). I don't think that's a bad thing, but some people won't be looking for that. The ending was frustrating, but i can't explain without spoilers. I would also consider it too stories. The first half, and the second half(which starts with fishing). They're both really good stories, but i don't feel like they work together. It almost feels like the second one was added because of publisher/investor pressure. While they did pretty good telling it(it won't win awards for originality, but it was enjoyable and told well, so gg), I'm left feeling like i didn't have an ending to the first half, and that was the half I'm emotionally invested in. I'd preorder that bit of dlc, that's how much i want it.

    Overall, get it if you can. Worth it. I really hope to see more titles with this kind of drive - less a game, more a living story.

    I think the main issue people have with the ending is that it was realistic. Just because it didn't end the way you wanted doesn't mean it's bad.

      Completely agree. I think people are conditioned to expect certain things from game narratives. This felt like a refreshing change.

      Yeah I loved that ending. And I think it was a lot more satisfying for me than other realistic endings like in Gone Home. I want more games that are brave and ironically, imaginative enough to tell realistic stories.

      My problem is that they throw many story threads at the player and then just drop them all.

        That's realistic too. The viewpoint Firewatch goes for is essentially a conversation between two people. Put yourself in the position of talking to someone long distance over a radio, there would be plenty of things that are mentioned once and then never brought up again.

        Some of the info is also stuff you need to put together through investigation and it isn't directly mentioned or brought back up to be explained explicitly.

        Granted there are a few key points that if you had free choice you'd no doubt bring up but depending on your choices some of those points are addressed in more detail.

        The "interface" they went for can be a bit restrictive in that you only get once chance at a lot of things. However that could be by design to encourage you to re-play it and try different options. Would be interesting to see it mapped out for how many unique dialogue paths there are.

        Last edited 15/02/16 5:03 pm

    Cant move forward after playing for about 90 mins, a note wont appear. Frustrating, as is the horrible frame rate drops, which I normally dont mind but they are very frequent. Short games should have more polish, fallout didnt have the frequent frame drops im enduring in this game. The story seems great and I love the look of the game but my experience so far has been pretty shit.

    I keep finding myself thinking about it after finishing it, which is always a good indication. I really want to go back and play it again, if only for the "screenshot" feature that I didn't realize was in it the first time around. Really clever thing that, definitely makes you appreciate it a hell of a lot more.

    Played it in one sitting on the weekend. Loved every minute of it, was like a real page-turner of a book, I couldn't wait to see what happened next. Right from the opening, text-based choices I was hooked, immediately drew me in and had me invested.

    Exceptional voice acting and writing, a real sense of paranoia (for me at least), gorgeous visuals. At $15 or whatever I paid for it, it was worth every cent.

    Love this game. Played it twice already. Made some different dialogue choices the second time around and just generally did things differently. The story is great and i personally love the ending. It's different. It's just a great story told in a fantastic way. May even play it a 3rd time lol

    I liked it, and had fun playing it, but can't help but feel a bit tricked by the marketing

    It was completely linear, which made me feel like it was on rails, rather than play on the whole 'huge national park' setting. The landscape looked pretty good, however i felt like i didn't really interact with it that much, like there were invisible walls everywhere, which was a bit disappointing.

    The voice acting was really well done, Henry and Delilah's interactions were really well done, but it was all very scripted, and no matter what dialogue choices you choose the story progresses in the same way. There were a few instances where D's response didn't match my dialogue choice for Henry at all, because the story is meant to progress in one direction regardless. Also I was really hoping the walkie talkie could be used much like the codec on MGS, where you get calls that you need, but there is a lot more dialogue if you keep calling, or inspect objects etc. I feel like this would lead to multiple play-throughs, as it stands I don't have any desire to play again.

    Ending semi-spoilers (tag not working)

    The ending and the overall story climax was a bit disappointing, it built up well, and it felt like it could go in any number of directions, but just fizzed out. I tiny bit of exposition dialogue wrapped up everything and that was that. No real change in anything except the smoke in the air, no real sense of urgency or tension in relation to the fires or being attacked by the mystery person/s spying on you, just meh. It feels like they ran out of time/money and just wanted to get it out the door, maybe they did or maybe they didn't, but the fact that it is so underwhelming makes it feel that way.

    End sorta-spoilers

    I did enjoy it, I played it over 3 days, but feel like it could have been so much more in terms of gameplay and story depth. The characters and setting were really well done (despite some niggling performance issues) but everything else seemed like it was half done. Maybe their next game will build on the things they have learned from this and be even better.

    Talking to your ship-mates is the best part of Mass Effect, and Firewatch captures that magical conversation sauce and slathers it all over what would be an otherwise unremarkable walking simulator. The sauce IS the dish, here.

    Last edited 15/02/16 1:23 pm

    Best voice acting in any gave ive ever played, not even AAA could capture how they actually felt towards eachother.
    to me it felt so real, i felt the connection, i felt sad for his wife.
    of all the games ive played, this one blew me away the most

    I agree with Roh. That was pretty much my experience too. I enjoyed the game, liked the story, found the characters great. I even liked the ending, thought it was pretty realistic.

    But I found parts of the game problematic.

    In particular the dialogue. It was awkward at times, which I guess is normal life. But sometimes it didn't flow well. And there were times where I didn't make any choice at all, the time ran out before I could decide what to pick. But the story still moved on just the same. There were times I did make a choice, but got no response from Delilah. Which was kind of weird. Like when you discover the 20 ft something in the mysterious area (trying not to be spoilery) and you tell her about it, I got no reply. I mean, that should warrant at least a omgwtf from her I would think.

    Watching various Lets Plays of it on youtube has been interesting. Seeing the different conversations people have gotten when making the same/different choices.

    I really liked the game and how its still making me think about it, but it is more of a walking simulator/choose your own adventure rather than an open world Forest Ranger mystery which is kind of how it was sold, imo.

    First off, the voice acting is unbelievable. The characters are incredibly realistic and well-acted - I always wanted to know more about them both

    Second (and the first of a few negatives), the story was terrible. Once you learn who the *mystery person* is it all turns to shit because it doesn't make any sense at all. From there, the characters no longer have any sort of meaningful interaction, the story fizzles out and feels rushed and you're basically just walking in a red-tinted wilderness.

    Another criticism is that the world was not at all open. I quite like linear world design as long as it's clear, but having one patch of bush be a bush you can walk through and another, identical patch of bush be an inexplicable wall is infuriating. World building was very sub-par (See the first Ciri mission in the Witcher 3 for examples of good linear world design in a forest).

    Also - and I feel like this is the most disagreeable issue I had with the game - I didn't think it looked that good. The blocky, stylised kind of animation is one we've seen a lot before and I don't think they did a particularly better job of it than any other developers. To be clear it looks nice. There are some nice views in this game. The one at the top of this article is nice. All the ones on kotaku are nice. But in the actual game it too-often felt like I was looking at a regular forest with an orange filter on it rather than looking at a forest being hit by light at sunset. It's not as apparent in photos and I don't think I would be able to do it any better because I don't know what about it bothered me, there was just a distinct lack of realistic light which very much detracted from the aesthetic for me personally.

    It was also too short. Not trying to speed through it (but not just exploring for the sake of it either) I clocked this game at under 3 hours. AU$25 for under three hours*?? Go see a movie, it's cheaper.

    For the amount of hype this game got it's a bit disappointing. Having said all that, I feel like coming from the perspective of someone who is newer than I am to games this would be a very good introductory (or early) game. I'm jaded by how I feel games should be experienced I think - I like them a certain way, I expect certain things etc - whereas I feel like someone who is used to more passive forms of entertainment and can more appreciate what they're playing than their expectations vs what they're playing would enjoy this game a lot for the great characters, interesting & good looking-ish (if not open) world, and emotional investment.

    At the end of the day I had my problems with it but I'm also not the type of person who would enjoy this game. I had fun for parts of it and had questions for a lot of it and was disappointed with the things I was looking forward to the most (the visuals, the plot).

    *There are some inherent flaws in the "this much money for this much time" argument, like "the experience isn't necessarily qualified by the time it takes to experience it" etc etc but really...this experience adds up to a $6.99 game not a $25 game.

    To me it started out like a typical story and I didn't expect it to be extraordinary. It ended typically as well. The best parts of the game were in the middle where my imagination ran wild with all the possibilities.

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