Firewatch

walking-simulators
firewatch
indie-gaming

#1

Is anyone else looking forward to Firewatch? The game is coming out on the 10th of February on Windows/Mac/Linux and there’s also a Playstation 4 version.

The concept is intriguing - it’s an exploration game, however there is also a strong focus on the relationship between the protagonist and his only contact who communicates with him over a radio. As the Steam page says: “Firewatch is a video game about adults having adult conversations about adult things.” A game containing a lot of conversations is nothing new, but combine this with the exploration aspect and it seems unique. We’ll see. As far as I can tell, there’s no combat, although that doesn’t rule out the possibility of some combat later in the game if it fits the narrative. But it appears to be first and foremost a character driven exploration game, and a good looking one at that (despite the small team size).


#2

Looks interesting I wonder who is in the tower?


#3

It certainly looks interesting, I’ll probably end up playing it.


#4

I’m very excited for this. The best stories are ones that centre around personal relationships, and I love exploring worlds at my own pace. Hopefully Firewatch has a decent length, because I’m certain I’m going to want to spend a lot of time playing it.


#5

The game will be released in 4 days. It’s $19.99, but preordering on Steam gets you a 10% discount (PSN Plus subscribers also get 10% off for the PS4 version it seems). I might get this on the launch day. Interesting note on the Steam page:

[QUOTE]A Note: Firewatch is a video game about adults having adult conversations about adult things. If you plan on playing with a younger gamer, that might be good to know going in.[/QUOTE]


#6

You need 6GB of RAM to run it… Seems a little steep to me.


#7

I’ve preordered Firewatch since the price is quite reasonable and I’ve been looking forward the game for some time. If it’s a long game I’m not sure when I’ll have time to play through it, given that there have been so many other interesting recent releases. But I will aim to share my thoughts once I’ve at least tried it.


#8

I’ve heard it’s pretty short, but who knows until the game is actually released. I don’t think I’ll pick it up until I’m sure I will have time to play it…


#9

Last I read, it was 5 to 6 hours. Personally, I don’t mind. I tend to prefer shorter games nowadays, it means I actually have a chance to finish them!


#10

Amen. I still have Deus Ex to play, and I’ve no idea when I’m going to find the time…


#11

Which Deus Ex game do you intend to play?

5-6 hours is a good length for a story driven game, especially if it only contains a few characters. It’s longer than a film and slightly shorter than a 300 page novel (depending on reading speed). Enough time to experience a solid, character driven narrative.

But yes, I can relate to not finishing games. I recently picked up Ori and the Blind Forest in the latest Steam sale but (despite it’s quality) decided get a refund because I already have too many other games I want to finish.


#12

I played the game, took me three hours, which is rather short even for a game like this (although you can easily spend a few more hours on it if you want). It reminds me a lot of Gone Home. Ultimately the exploration aspect isn’t really there, it’s still a very linear game even if you have more than one way of getting to your destination. The backtracking starts to get tedious as well, as the map is fairly small. I can’t say much about the story without spoiling things, but although the premise is unusual and features characters that carry emotional baggage, I can’t say I really connected with them all that much.

Looking back, I actually paid less for all five episodes of Life is Strange, and I didn’t find anything in Firewatch that LiS didn’t do better. At the current price point I’m not sure if I can recommend it. Basically: If you liked Gone Home, you won’t be disappointed. Otherwise, you might want to wait for a sale.


#13

I played through Firewatch over three sessions, it took me almost double amount of the time that @Draikin spent (Steam says 5.8 hours). Typically I take a bit longer than the average to complete games as I like to take my time and observe my surroundings. The average play time is 3.5 hours.

However, the short length didn’t bother me at all. Indeed, I was dismayed when I saw a number of negative reviews on Steam that judged Firewatch solely on it’s length. It’s not significantly more expensive than a movie ticket, but if you really must judge a game on such objective criteria (such as hours spent = value), then by all means wait for a sale.

Firewatch is a game with very little filler. There are some sections which involve backtracking, but these are short enough and add further immersion (and it is a very immersive game), so I never found them tedious. The game knows when to cut to a new scene and when to take you hike to new location. The hiking sections give you time to reflect on the story and way you’re role played the multi-choice radio conversations. These sections give you time to think about where the story is currently at and what Henry, the protagonist, might be feeling about the current situation.

Another common objection to the game is the lack of things to do. Depsite the appearance of an open world, Firewatch is a very linear game, and there’s not a lot in the world… a large part of the attraction is just “being” in the very dry but beautiful environment and navigating around the world using the paper map (which the protagonist holds with his hand in game, rather than bring up a seperate screen - very cool). I can tell that developers have been very careful about not putting anything in the game that would distract from the immersion, so nearly all of the usual, unessential video game elements such as collectables and stats have been stripped out. Part of the appeal isn’t what the game does, but what it doesn’t do. Firewatch is not a game that tests you (with either puzzles or combat), the main “game” mechnanic is the radio and how you build your personal relationship with Delilah. Unlike other games (e.g. Mass Effect), where you get achivements for inactivating with characters in the “right” way, in Firewatch the interactions are something that are a lot more subjective. You cannot win, because the consequences of your radio responses are not goal orientated. They are about building something subjective and personal, not about completing a “quest”. Indeed, Firewatch is not a game you set out to win via objective criterita (other than reaching the end of the story), it’s very much a subjective experience. I actually see a lot of parallels between this game and Journey. And not just the fact that they’re both orange games either :wink: The experience is one which is ultimately very much about how you personally respond to it. I haven’t played Gone Home yet, but have played other walking simulators such as Dear Esther. After Journey, Firewatch has been the walking simulator that has appealed to me the most and I will likely replay it at some point.

So yes, I quite liked Firewatch and recommend it, keeping in mind that if you require that games are “busy”, this game is not for you. You’ll probably want to wait until you get some decent hardware before attempting to run it @Shadow, as even on my machine with 16GB of RAM and a 2GB GPU, I had to run the game on low graphics to get it run smoothly. The visuals, dialogue, acting, and music are all top quality. I won’t say anything about the story, other than that’s appealing largely because I imagine it actually happening, which is something I can’t say about a lot of game stories. If you’re after something fantastical or epic in scope, Firewatch might not be the game for you, but if you want an experience that’s very immersive because it isn’t those things, you should definitely experience Firewatch.


#14

(SPOILERS)

My main gripe with the game: where’s the character development? The whole first five minutes does more to make us understand Henry than the rest of the game. After that, Delilah and Henry do talk a bit about his (and her life) but it doesn’t really add much to the characters. We actually learn very little about Delilah. The mystery aspects of the story drive Henry (and you) forward, but the time isn’t really spent on actually building the characters. The conclusion is therefore rather abrupt. It seems like Delilah doesn’t actually want to meet Henry, and the impression I get is that they never see each other again and Henry goes back to his wife. Or at least, that appears to be what the game wants Henry to do, if Delilah’s change in character is any indication. The core of the story appears to be that both Delilah and Henry were both just running away from their previous life, and burning down the forest is basically a metaphor for them returning to that life. In that sense, it feels like any attempt you make as Henry to steer away from that by picking certain choices, is countered by the game, as if it’s telling you you’re not picking the “right” choices.


#15

Spoilers:

[spoiler]Deliah appears to decide that it was better not to encourage Henry to run away from his previous life, although the game leaves it up to your intepretation as to whether they do eventually meet in person. She most likely came to this realisation based on Ned Goodwin’s choice to become a paranoid hermit, a story which parallels the direction that Henry was heading in. So you could say that Deliah grew based on the discovery of what happened with the Goodwins and a realisation of the importance of putting your loved ones first (Brian Goodwin obviously paralleling Julia). I also get the impression that she was going to stop running as well, but wasn’t sure where she was going next.

The character development of Henry is something you control. You, the player, are essentially Henry and how you respond is the player role playing their intepretation of Henry; his character growth is up to you. I do agree that the player’s ability to take control of Henry is limited in terms of it’s impact on the story itself, but when it comes to individual choices we are presented with a range of responses to choose from, in reaction to the situations that the game forces you into.[/spoiler]


#16

I watched my housemate finish off Firewatch yesterday. Visually it was quite appealing, one of the first things I mentioned to him was how smooth the animation to bring up the map was. He laughed at that as he said he was running into some FPS issues before (he was playing on the PS4).

It seemed like the kind of experience I’d enjoy, short but engaging, however I don’t think I’d personally buy it at that price point.

I’d mainly want to give a warning to potential buyers - my housemate ran into a bug (which a lot of others seemed to run into as well from a quick google) where you could no longer respond to any radio calls. This actually, eventually, stopped him from being able to progress as he couldn’t issue any radio calls either. He was, understandably, extremely disappointed, especially as he looked up where he’d gotten to and it was right at the end. It’s a short game, it could be replayed, but he said it was pretty immersion destroying.

For him, it was a little disappointing, but mainly due to how it ran and a pretty crippling bug.


#17

Campo Santo has patched the PS4 version, apparently with major performance improvements. I’ve also noticed multiple updates to the PC version over the past few days. Hopefully these fixes will improve the game enough to all but eliminate the FPS issues.


#18

For those of you who didn’t get the chance to play Firewatch earlier this year on PC or PS4, the game is heading to Xbox One later this month:

As mentioned earlier, I quite liked Firewatch. But please keep your expectations realistic; this is an indie game.


#19

I wish I had waitied. It will undoubtedly run better on Xbox than on PC, and I haven’t even played it yet.


#20

That’s annoying. :confused: This is a game that’s very visual and benefits immensely from good hardware. I recommend either upgrading your PC or repurchasing Firewatch on Xbox One.