Firewatch is a pretty good game, if you don’t really want to do much except experience a well written story with great performances and good artwork.
The term ‘walking-simulator’ has been used to describe games like Firewatch. That term is pretty apt, but there is a bit more to the game than just walking. You can explore, but there’s little reason to do that, there are numerous points of interest with some good conversations to be had, there are some interesting plot points and there are hidden some documents and items to be found.
Firewatch has a large open world, but it’s pretty empty. There’s little reason to explore, and I found that the story tends to lead you through the entire map anyhow. My advice would be to follow the story and play the game linearly, and perhaps explore the environments as you come across them.
In terms of story and characters, Firewatch depends on them. I don’t think the story will be a hit for everyone, some people probably won’t be able to relate to it at all. For example, I’m curious to see what female players think of the story, considering you’re forced to play as a man and the majority of the story hints and even pushes you into a romantic themed story.
Obviously I don’t want to elaborate on, or explore the story in detail, because of spoilers. I will however say that i found the ending and the wrap up of certain story threads to be underwhelming and slightly disappointing. Everything makes sense, it’s just not what i was expecting and i can’t help but think that the writer’s were playing it safe with the ending, instead of doing something truly special. That being said, days after finishing the game, i’m still thinking about, so that’s something.
I also have to commemorate the game for the way in which it creates atmosphere, tension and mood. the game does a great job of constantly pushing forward and building up. Like I’ve already said though, it’s a shame it doesn’t build up to something truly great.
The actors are also great. Rich Sommer, best known for his work on Mad Men does a fantastic job as the player character, making him incredibly likable. Firewatch relies so much on the performances of the cast, it’s good to see that everything works out. There’s one very important, central character who you never see and yet that character is probably the best character in the game. It’s pretty impressive acting and writing.
Firewatch is a great game, just don’t go into the game expecting a lot to do. You’ll be walking, running, climbing and talking (a lot). There’s little else. You can explore the environment and take in the gorgeous artwork, but i see no real reason to do so. All the secrets and hidden bits and bobs aren’t that well hidden and the game’s story takes you all over the map anyhow, so there’s little reason to venture out on your own. As a linear, story and character focused game, Firewatch is very good and i’d even say it’s probably a must play.