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I usually don’t like saying a game from early on in the year is one of my favorites, since later on, I will have to think how good it is compared to the games that will come out later, but Firewatch is quite honestly one of my favorite games of this year. Sure, it is yet another first-person exploration game, or as they have been infamously titled, “ walking simulators” , but it’s easily one of the top five best examples of how to do such games. Let’s not waste any more time, and get down to why Firewatch is one of my favorite games of 2015.
In Firewatch, you play as Henry, voiced by Rich Sommers, a newly appointed fire lookout in the beautiful Wyoming wilderness. Henry’s only other human to interact with is a fellow fire lookout named Delilah, voiced by Cissy Jones, who is on another lookout station far away from you. Henry’s main goal is to keep peace among the wilderness, and make sure to report any fires that may be happening. Unfortunately, it can’t all be peaceful isolation, as Henry and Delilah find out that there might be something or someone watching them. This is easily one of the best narrative stories of 2016. It is a haunting, sad, and dramatic story that kept you in its grasp every step of the way. The characters felt human, and you really do feel for why they decided to take such an isolated job like fire lookouts. It’s a moving story, since it involves you, and I was never bored or confused about what was going on.
Firewatch is a first-person narrative adventure game. You will spend most of your time in the game exploring the forest and area of your watch tower. You will be able to do a multitude of things, from making sure you have areas with climbing rope, being able to cut down trees to make into bridges, and basically use other items to traverse the landscape. You can find additional items like books to put on your bookshelf, and even encounter animals in the wilderness. It’s rather satisfying being able to explore the landscape with only your map and compass, and be able to find new ways to traverse the area around you. Honestly, that is it, since most of the time, you are trying to figure out what the heck is going on. The game is on the short side, at around a few hours, but my overall experience with the game wasn’t ruined by the short playtime. You can also have the conversations go different ways with multiple answers for different parts of said conversations.
Firewatch is a beautiful game. Bright colors and a sort of cartoony look is really appealing to me personally, since I’m sort of tired of super realistic-looking games. The atmosphere was masterfully executed, and it made me afraid about what might be going on, even though it wasn’t really a horror game. The music is perfect. Calm and very indie-sounding fits the overall tone of the story. The music was composed by Chris Remo, who worked on games like Gone Home, Spacebase DF-9, and Thirty Flights of Loving. The voice acting is perfect, and I’m glad to see them used some well-known actors to pull off the script for the game.
Still, I have some problems with this game. I do wish it had a non-abrupt ending. I feel like I, as a , should have gotten some kind of closure as to what happened. I know some think the abrupt ending fits the overall tone, but I’ m tired of it, honestly. I also ran into some frame-rate problems from time to time, but while it didn’t ruin the overall experience, it happened more than it should have. Luckily, stuff like this can be patched over and not be a total bug-riddled mess, like Assassin’s Creed Unity or the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight. I also wish I could travel faster and be able to have more time to explore the land around me.
If I haven’t made it clear, Firewatch is a fantastic game. It’s easily a game that is worth the $20 or so price tag. Plus, the developers of the game, Camp Santo, are one of the best examples of how to be a good indie developer. If you have a PlayStation 4 or a PC, I would highly recommend checking out Firewatch.
This game gets an 8 out of 10