Firewatch (PS4, 2016)

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I originally purchased Firewatch for Diane as a game to introduce her to first person mechanics. After we finished Braid, I wanted to try and expand her limits a bit, and I figured the mystery elements would appeal to her since that’s the kind of story she typically likes. The first person view didn’t really work out for her though, so I took over, got hooked, and quickly finished the game.

Overall, I think I liked it. I wasn’t nearly as hyped as some people were, and outside of buying it early as a potential game for the girlfriend, I probably would’ve waited to buy it. I almost wish I had since it was over so quickly, but I am also happy to have experienced the game.

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Firewatch is a game about a man with a troubled marriage who finds himself sitting alone in the woods all summer watching for fires to report. While he is by himself during the game, there is another major character who can be reached via walkie talkie throughout the game.

I believe people classify Firewatch as a walking simulator. I think that’s probably pretty accurate. There aren’t puzzles, platforming, or combat. Everything is just a simple matter of getting to the right spot and clicking on the right thing. The entire focus is on the narrative and the two main characters.

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I loved their relationship. In fact, I loved most everything about the game’s atmosphere and even the gameplay. The art direction is fantastic, the writing is solid, and I loved exploring the wilderness. The entire time I played Firewatch, I had this constant dread of what might happen next or what may happen to my character. From the get go, the game ramps up the mystery and paranoia. Being alone in the woods with no real combat ability only aids the matter.

The focus on story and mystery ended up being a double-edged sword. The payoff in Firewatch just didn’t do anything for me. It wasn’t a matter of predictability, either; I just felt it was boring. Clearly others will disagree, but Diane listened or watched me play as much as she could and she felt the exact same way.

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As an experience, I think everyone should at least try Firewatch. It isn’t for everyone, but I firmly believe that everyone can get something out of it. I don’t really recommend it at its current price point though. Even if the developers poured all their heart and soul into this game, I don’t think the end result is worth the $20 for less than three hours of gameplay. I suppose you could replay it, but I just don’t see the use.

Try Firewatch as soon as you can, but be prepared to have your expectations defied – for better or maybe for worse.

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P.S. I played the Playstation 4 version before and after a patch that fixed many of its issues. The game did stutter a bit, but none of that really mattered. It was still fun and still lovely.

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8 thoughts on “Firewatch (PS4, 2016)”

  1. That game is definitely on my to-play list, as I really dig story heavy games. As far as playing with your lady goes, I know the feeling! My spouse used to PLAY WoW with me but quit a long time ago. She played the first two Dragon Age games and sometimes city builders, but she doesn’t actively game the way I do.

    I’m always trying to find games that work for her. Our last big success was playing Life is Strange together, which was awesome and fun for us. Did you consider that game?

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  2. […] Firewatch (PS4, 2016) – Murf with a review and its a really well-written review at that! When reviewing a “walking simulator” or any other narrative heavy game it is incredibly difficult to avoid spoilers. But Murf has done just that here so click and read in the knowledge that nothing is ruined here! GG Murf! […]

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  3. Could not disagree more strongly. I do not recommend this game to anyone! It is not for “everyone”.

    It is a pointlessly mundane park ranger simulator, except it would have been more interesting as an actual simulator. The story is incoherent, the lead character is nearly a bad person in need of redemption (which he never receives) and no parts of any “narrative” the game embarks on gets any closure. Its so random.

    I’m all for story based games but this is a gigantic flop in that department.

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      1. actually this should have been called “White Dude Simulator”, lol. Seriously …this game is so white bread and mundane it’s breath-taking. I have not regretted a game purchase in years.

        Just had to come back and drive that point home, Murfs. I might come back again if annoyance at the thought of this game strikes me again.

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