Firewatch doesn't provide the same emotional heights or satisfying conclusion you'd expect from such a story-heavy game, but Campo Santo definitely shows promise with their debut project. Even if it won't have you reaching for the tissues by the end, this woodland walking simulator still provides a pretty great way to burn through an otherwise unoccupied afternoon.
The analog inputs (pulling up the walkie-talkie or map, spinning the same "1234" tumblers to unlock every single park lock box with Henry's paws) combined with unique animation and believable voice work help ground Firewatch, which manages both restraint and maturity in its story without ever going full mumblecore "walking simulator." The warmth of the budding relationship between two voices with natural chemistry is undercut by harsher realities and the drawn out segments of feeling stalked and vulnerable are legitimately stressful. The result is a tight, taut human tale well worth the trek.
And of course, the phenomenal performances of both Rich Sommer and Cissy Jones contribute the lion's share of this personal resonance. They brilliantly demonstrate emotional nuance and sensitivity, and now I selfishly want them to voice all the things together. By the ending, my heart felt so heavy not just because of the events that unfolded, but because I believed in the myth of Henry and Delilah I created over a tumultuous summer in Shoshone. Although I loved the exploration, I felt the loneliness when no voice was on the other end, wanting to joke with or occasionally comfort me.
You already know if you are going to be buying Firewatch, and if you loved Everybody's Gone to the Rapture or Life Is Strange then this is the game for you. It's small, short and almost perfectly formed, it's just the shame the game broke so many times when I was playing it. I'm hoping these problems can be found and fixed very quickly after launch and I would suggest holding off buying the game until a patch has been released, but until then we don't have much of a choice but to mark an otherwise lovely game down due to the problems encountered.
I loved Firewatch, mostly, letdown with the ending notwithstanding.
I enjoyed my short time in the world of Firewatch. The world is beautiful and the voice acting is excellent. But Henry and Delilah's story is far too short, and the resolution of the game's story relies far too much on a backstory that isn't given the breathing room it needs. It's an emotional rollercoaster that just teeters back down to a merry-go-round, leaving me with a detached feeling that everything I had spent the past few hours working towards has been all for nought.
Firewatch is truly a storytelling masterpiece. The mystery unfolds at a proper pace as you explore the beautiful Wyoming wilderness and the characters naturally grow as they encounter different experience. Rich Sommer and Cissy Jones did an exceptional job with the voice acting, bringing Henry and Delilah to life and making me form an emotional bond with them. I highly recommend this game to anyone who loves a great story.
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Buy it if you want to take a relaxing trip to the great outdoors without ever leaving your home.
Firewatch is a little, fascinating adventure, that fail to fully satisfy its potential.
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