Firewatch Reviews

AuthorReview
Mr Velezbian
298,671 (204,578)
Mr Velezbian
TA Score for this game: 1,131
Posted on 22 October 16 at 17:57
This review has 16 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
Twisted Fire Started
By Edwin Velez
Reviewed on Xbox One
Released on September 20th, 2016 on Xbox One (Also available on PS4 & PC)
Developer: Campo Santo Publisher: Campo Santo

I knew very little about Firewatch going in. I knew that earlier this year it released on PS4 and PC to much high praise, and was primarily a first person narrative driven experience. I didn’t know that it was home to wildly colorful scenes of nature landscapes. I didn't know that it had about five hours worth of some of the best scripted and most natural sounding dialogue you will have heard this year in gaming. I didn't know that it was going to make me emotionally attached to multiple characters without ever seeing their faces. But I am glad it did, and I am even more glad that Campo Santo gave me the chance to play it, because it is one exhilarating piece of work that puts emphasis on a character driven narrative that nails emotion in a realistic way.

At the heart of Firewatch lies an extremely well written and delivered thriller, though from an outside perspective it’s a straightforward, semi-open world walking simulator. Players take control of Henry, an emotionally conflicted outdoorsman. It’s the summer of '89, and he has taken up a job as a fire lookout for the Shoshone National Park to get away from his troubled life in Boulder, Colorado. This is normally a fairly lonely job, but on the other end of his radio is his sole contact Delilah. Their connections and banter are what drive the game to its heights of narrative greatness.

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Henry and Delilah are a dream team of a duo. Their chit chats throughout the days of your watch become more engaged with each passing moment. From somber to serious moments, and a whole lot of comical ones in between, each line and the emotion behind it comes off incredibly natural and believable. Henry, voiced by Mad Men's Rich Sommer, is a stable but emotionally weary man. Estranged from his wife, he finds solace in the forest, as well as in Delilah (voiced by Cissy Jones.) Their dynamic is impeccable, never missing a beat. In many cases, you get to pick the responses of Henry, which flow easily from choice to choice. He is a good, honest man if you so choose him to be, or he can be more of a selfish man. You have the power of choice, and it seems to play an important role in his and Delilah’s relationship. She’s a tequila and crossword loving realist who finds humor in almost any scenario. She pairs well with Henrys easy going approach on life, and they are the type that would easily get along in a local bar. By the end of my playthrough, the two bonded over the summer. To what degree I will leave for those now eager to play, but it all ties into the story at hand.

Exploring the Shoshone is breathtaking. Vibrant foliage covers the hills, making hiking a visually appealing task. The mountain skylines, bodies of water, and picture perfect skies are a wonder to behold. As you explore the various trails in your sector, you will be given various tasks from Delilah that push the day along. These tasks eventually tie into a deeply thrilling storyline, but that is for you to discover without me to spoil. To help you along the way, you will gets a few pieces of equipment. The most helpful are ropes and an axe, both of which make new paths available that both push the story along and make shortcuts for your travels. The map is without a doubt you’re most important tool which, combined with your compass, is key to navigating the winding trails. As you explore, Henry will often update his maps in accordance with his findings as well as other watchers personal notes. My favorite item, though non-essential, is a disposable camera. Much of the game begs for screen caps, but the camera is a neat way to capture your views while making them more memorable since your film roll is limited. During the credits, every photo you took comes alongside the crews name in what is honestly one of the most attention grabbing credits I have ever seen. Yes, Firewatch is attention grabbing and meaningful right down to its credits. Though the map is one of the prettiest sights I have seen in gaming, my biggest disappointment comes from a shocking lack of wildlife. Though you run into a select few animals in your summer adventures, they are rarely random. The few you can see are usually for achievements or to trigger dialogue, but for a game that takes place in the forest I would have expected to see much more. Even if it were just squirrels or birds, it would have made all the difference, but sadly not even those tiny animals were out and about. The ambient sounds of wildlife like ducks and bugs were fantastic, but had the forest been booming with actual critters (even if at a distance) it would have made all the difference.

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By the time the credits do roll, you will hopefully be taken aback like I was. Every bit of dialogue that ensued throughout was meaningful and engaging, as was the story as a whole. With a bit of conspiracy and mystery, you will surely find some times to be quite tense as the bigger picture unfolds. Firewatch is a great story telling experience that looks and sounds phenomenal. With a brilliant cast that plays out an equally brilliant script, you truly cannot go wrong with the narrative at hand. The latest edition is further complimented by both a commentary mode and a free roam. I have not yet touched on the commentary mode, but the free roam mode is a great addition for those looking to just take the Shoshone forest all in. It is really beautiful to explore with no restrictions, and also adds a feature that lets you play some of the games great tracks as you explore. Firewatch is also one of the most true to nature adult narratives I think you can find. Never over the top but just right in a way, it’s the lax nature of Henry and Delilah’s conversations and their language that is a key factor to how naturally it all comes off. The game is memorable in every way, and while the ending is bitter sweet, it ends up feeling like a classic 80’s movie. It’s no wonder an actual movie is on the way because Firewatch is script perfection.

*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review

FINAL SCORE: 9/10
​+Gorgeous Landscapes
+Natural Dialogue
+Award Worthy Script
​-Lack of Wildlife
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EightGramsOfFat
301,173 (176,350)
EightGramsOfFat
TA Score for this game: 1,131
Posted on 22 September 16 at 20:36, Edited on 22 September 16 at 20:37
This review has 19 positive votes and 7 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Firewatch is a short, mostly narrative experience. With no combat, the game relies on tense environments and the conversation you have with your boss, Delilah. The game is a short experience, capping off at around 3-4 hours.

Four achievements are missable, but it is quite simple to find them off the beaten trail towards the end of the game.

Story
This game has a slightly confusing narrative, and left me with a few questions. Some good, where the game encourages the user to think about family, friends, and what really matters. On the other hand, it does not do a good job of explaining a few plot points. I asked questions like "Why did he do this." Or "Why does she say that?"

The storyline of the game is relatively interesting, with no huge bosses or valuable treasure to find. Instead, the player is left with a somber sense of completion at the end of the game. The game feels like a book a student studies in highschool. In fact, I believe that it would be better suited as a book.

Nonetheless, you pick up the controller as Henry, a late-thirties man who takes this job in the woods to escape his failing marriage. His wife, Julia, suffers from dementia and it separates the couple. Henry spends about 80 days in the wilds, with hardly any contact with another person. His boss, Delilah, speaks to him over the radio. She is his only contact with another human.

The story brings into questions what it means to care for another person.

Gameplay
The gameplay is mostly walking. Lots of walking, some instances of scripted climbing event, or rappelling down a steep hill. Honestly, the gameplay is lacking.

The only thing that kept me playing was the actually interesting conversations between Delilah and Henry, where you can choose a few answers in a wheel-type response. Or, you can remain silent and let the time expire, which will prompt Delilah to respond accordingly. The voice acting is very well done, and I enjoyed the banter back and forth between the two.

There are a few interactions in the game, but expect a lot of silent walking if you try to explore the map. The map does little to entice me to explore. There are set paths between the areas, with little spaces for achievements hidden away, but overall it is similar to Bungie's Destiny. Long paths to rooms and little to do once there.

The graphics on Xbox One are strange. While stylized to be simplistic and clean, some instances of clipping, texture errors, and stuttering can take you out of the experience.

Final Words
At time of release Firewatch is priced at $20. I would recommend waiting until the price comes down. Firewatch is a narrative experience that attempts to make the player think about relationships and how we impact other people's lives. At the end of the day, its worth a play but not for more than $10.
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FullMoonBeaver
597,061 (374,284)
FullMoonBeaver
TA Score for this game: 1,131
Posted on 01 October 16 at 14:14
This review has 10 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
Welcome to my review for Firewatch

Published by: Panic
Developed by: Campo Santo
Release Date: September 21st 2016
Price: $19.99

Firewatch puts you in the boots of Henry. A down and out kinda guy, having had his wife taken from him by her family, as her dementia takes a firm hold of her, and Henry's drinking takes control of him. The beginning of the game sees you making choices for the back story through text based narrative. It doesn't have the impact on any events in game, but being able to tailor the back story to your taste is a nice touch regardless.

The actual game play begins after you walk to your truck in an underground parking lot, which is interspersed with the text at the start, and then on your way to the watch tower in the National Park. Henry needed a change of scenery, and what better way than to opt for solitude in a vast wilderness? Surely nothing could go awry?

Henry only has Delilah at the other end of the radio. A friendly sounding woman with a mischievous nature, but all in good faith as she tries to bring Henry out of his shell. Anything and everything that you can interact with can be relayed back to Delilah via your walkie talkie. The voice acting from both Henry and Delilah is convincing, as it leaves you believing that their growing friendship and emotions are real as you progress the story.

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What starts off with dealing with some rowdy teenagers soon takes a turn with a mysterious figure standing high above you. Panic soon sets in, and a conspiracy about being watched and spied on unravels before you. An area chained off which has popped up out of nowhere escalates further, and the teenagers going missing brings the situation to boiling point. You get to choose from several options of conversation throughout, although choices don't offer any change in the story until the end, where you interact with Delilah. I won't spoil it and tell you, as you will want to find out for yourself.

However, by the time you complete the game, you feel it has been huge build up to nothing, as the anti climatic nature of the story does let down what is some very good story telling and excellent voice acting. Fear, panic, anger, it's all there for you to listen to and engage in.

The game lets you explore nearly everywhere from very early on, and there is a lot to explore in terms of the size of the sandbox. But you will find some areas off limit, and impassable due to cliff faces, or needing a fire axe to clear the way. Despite the size, there is very little to do within Firewatch, which is a crying shame. You do get to name a forest fire, and a tortoise. You will know which name I chose when you get the options, and let's face it, the name is a great play on the real world counterpart. There is very little in the way of wildlife, except some insects, and deer. You will uncover claw marks from a grizzly bear, but that is you lot when it comes to one of natures behemoths. One aspect I found to be a unique touch was the world map. You don't just press a button to view a map in a pause screen, but an ordanance survey map in Henry's hand and a compass to find your way around. A bit confusing at first, but you will soon become accustomed to it. Cache boxes will allow you to update your map at various points within the game, but you will find little of use inside these boxes. Just stuff to look at with little consequence as to whether or not you interact with them.

For a first person game, it is unusual in that when you look down, you will see Henry's body, and not just a floating camera. It works well, and doesn't look odd when he walks about.

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The game is broken down into days, and after the first few, it starts to shoot forward quickly, with short interactions in between. For me, it felt as if they ran out of ideas to flesh the game out, and you will soon reach the end a lot quicker than expected. This will leave you questioning whether to purchase the game or not, and likely waiting for a sale.

Firewatch is certainly worth experiencing, and at some point you should make an effort to play it for yourself. A huge park to explore, a solid story up until the end, and a relationship between Henry and Delilah that quickly builds up as they band together in the conspiracy at hand. The shadowy figure who seems to be spying on them really does induce a panicked sensation in not just the characters, but also for me as well.

Once the game is over, Freeroam becomes available to you, allowing you to fully explore. But sadly there is little reason to play this game mode of you have just come for the achievements.

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Graphics: A gorgeous looking game, and for me personally, reminds me of the art style used in Team Fortress 2. Th sunlight shining away in the canyons, off the rock and boulders, to the forested areas all look stunning. Sunsets are a joy to behold too. One of the strong points about Firewatch, and it all runs smoothly too, with no noticeable dip in frame rate that I encountered.

Music/FX: Not much in the way of music until the end credits, but a game like this doesn't need any. Sounds are as expected, with an ambient set of sounds in place for certain events, and background noises. Aside from the teenagers, your only contact is Delilah, and thankfully the voice acting is superb and won't be letting the game down in this area.

Gameplay: Henry is easy to control, not the fastest as he is a middle aged man now, but that doesn't mean he is slow and cumbersome. You get to be able to run around with him, and there is no depleting energy bar, so keep on running should you so choose. The controls themselves are easy to learn, meaning a learning curve that lets you just get stuck in without any issues.

Longevity: Sadly, this is a major breaking point of Firewatch. You will play for approximately 3 hours at most before you reach the conclusion of the story, and if you have all 10 achievements, you will likely ignore the Freeroam game mode and be done with it. That's not to say you wont enjoy the story, as it will keep you engaged up until the end. There is a very sad moment within the game, but again, I won't say what or where this will happen.

Achievements: A very easy list, with mostly story progression for reaching set days. There are some miscellaneous achievements, with 2 being very close to each other. Just come prepared with your fire axe for one of them. An easy 1000g is up for grabs, and with a 3 hour investment it surely sounds a deal. But one niggle for any potential customer will be the price of $20. It may seem a lot to ask for 3 hours of your life, but how much does the cinema cost these days? Add a drink and popcorn and I'm pretty sure that would set you back more than $20. If you're uncertain, wait for a sale. But at the very least, keep this game on your radar.

Conclusion: Firewatch has some great visuals, and a very strong double act cast of characters. The story fades out towards the end, which does feel a bit of a let down, and with very little going on inside the park, it does lose some points here. Even if we could have just met other park visitors along the way, to make it feel less isolated, and filling the game out, it would have been a more enjoyable wander through the game.

A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.

Firewatch gets 4 stars
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Diablosblizz
45,227 (31,965)
Diablosblizz
TA Score for this game: 1,131
Posted on 05 February 18 at 05:01
This review has 1 positive vote and 2 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
This review was originally posted at https://blizzgaming.ca/firewatch-review/

This Firewatch review contains mild spoilers regarding the story, if you're looking to dive into the story blind please take note.

A few weeks ago I finished Firewatch, an indie narrative driven game developed by Campo Santo. Firewatch takes place in Shoshone National Forest following an interesting individual named Henry, which is the character you control. The game opens to introducing you to Henry who has an interesting back story that is really moving. The once the game has pulled on your heartstrings, you are sent to your new post in the national forest. However, a month into his new position as fire lookout, Henry and his supervisor (Delilah) start noticing that strange things start happening to them. Currently the game runs you $19.99 on Xbox for about 4-5 hours of solid gameplay.

The Good
There is so much that I enjoyed with Firewatch. Two things that I enjoyed most with Firewatch are the story and visuals. Graphically, Firewatch is simply beautiful. The fine art of graphical simplicity is well applied here. Check out BlizzGaming for pictures on the game.

I also really enjoyed the story for Firewatch. It was compelling enough to terrify me into thinking somebody was constantly behind me, watching my every move. There was also enough back story for the Henry character to leave me satisfied. In addition, there was just enough of a small love story to keep you interested in the character development.

Achievements were another aspect of the game that I enjoyed. There is a great mix of story and exploring based achievements, such as finding a pet turtle. You can check out my Ol' Shoshone Achievement Guide for finding and listening to the "Ol' Shoshone" tape.

The Bad (or... what I wasn't expecting)
Spoiler warning ahead!
While I found the game unnecessarily terrifying (I really don't do well with horror / thriller games), and also enjoying the ending, I found it slightly lackluster. There wasn't anything in particular that I disliked, I just expected something different with all the thrill and tension that the game presented to you throughout the story. That doesn't mean it's bad in any sense, I just expected it to go somewhere else and I felt a little let down.

Other than the story taking a different turn then expected, my only other gripe with the game was the map. It was confusing, at first, to navigate where the game wanted you to go. I suppose I'm used to games that marks next objectives on the map, Firewatch has you rely on actually listening to the conversation to know where you're going. Because of that, I found myself lost quickly. Luckily, if you do miss the conversation the game will lead you in the right direction.

Closing Thoughts
Overall, Firewatch is a great game with very few flaws. The length of the game feels just right and is a blast to play.

[+] Great Story
[+] Very impressive simplistic visuals
[+] Aspects of thriller that keep you intrigued
[+] Easy 1000GS
[+/-] Ending was unexpected, but still interesting
[-] Takes time to get used to the map
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