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Discussion The Patient Gamer: Firewatch

GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,520
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Wow, that was quick! Just finished a playthrough (walkthough?) of Firewatch.

I went into this game likely with a bit more knowledge than early adopters had when they picked it up full price: I knew that the game was a "walking simulator" in that
there was no combat or real risk of death in the game.
I also knew that the ending of the game is wildly divisive, with some people calling it a life altering masterpiece while others claim any number of things from the developers just ran out of money, to sloppy writing, to downright betrayal.

Armed with this knowledge I played, and finished, and sat and thought about things, and figured that I am closer to the first camp (its a good game) than the second (hatefest) but this is a situation where I can honestly see how everyone's opinions are more or less valid. I can also see that if I picked up the game with the hype and the full price ($20) around release, how I could be deeply disappointed.

Almost the entirety of human interaction in the game happens between the player character and his boss, D, over walkie-talkies . The PC is given different conversation options, or the option to interact only when the game demands it, resulting in a slightly different experience interacting with D across different playthroughs despite all the roads leading to the same conclusion.

The game does a masterful job ratcheting up the tension and suspense
as the game hits its climax about 3/4 of the way through, and an equally masterful job pulling the rug out from underneath you with a sort of non-twist-twist ending. At its core its a game about people that escape into the wilderness to run away from their lives out in the "real world", all brought together from the resulting loneliness, and all torn apart by the same fears that brought them together in the first place. Fundamentally I wouldn't call the story depressing or negative, but really more stark and unexpected, like getting hit with a bucket of cold water.

The game is also extremely beautiful, the whole game looks like a gorgeous vector art painting. You get the impression that the devs slowed you down just to appreciate the scenery, and although the pace of the game can be ponderous at times, I didn't particularly mind as it was a nice change of pace from the "go here and do this, real fast, or you'll lose and die and everyone you love will die" save-the-world type games. The game is also pared down in a way that you're always going somewhere to advance the story, there is very little padding in the sense that you have to back-track or return to your firewatch every day just to puff out play-time.

I would have liked to see this concept grow, but it looks like the developers of this game have signed up with Valve and their follow-up project "in the valley of the gods" has been put on hold.

If you have $5 bucks and want a solid intro to the "walking sim" genre, Firewatch is an incredible place to start. At the end of the day it makes you feel (something, good or bad), it makes you think, and its cheaper than a movie that would have done the same.
 
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GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,520
1,002
136
Could maybe use some SPOILER tags on the review...
-Sorry, I figured 10K foot stuff and very general elements of the plot on a 3 year old game would be safe, but I'm not interested in ruining anything for anyone. Spoiler tags added.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
344
126
Always use spoiler tags. Funny enough, I bought this years ago and started playing it last week.
 

GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,520
1,002
136
I guess its just a question of what someone would consider a spoiler.

For example, I strongly agree that specific plot points or in game events should not be disclosed, like the following:

- The antagonist in the game is Ned Goodwin, an ex-Firewatch volunteer, who is running from the fact that his son died trying to impress him because he brought him to the wilderness.

- You never meet Delilah in the game. Its heavily implied that she likes using other Firewatch volunteers as emotional crutches, then runs away from them when they become attached to her.

- The two girls you confront early in the game are a red herring, they have nothing to do with the main plot other than to fuel the PC's paranoia as the game progresses.

On the other hand general themes, genre, gameplay, etc should be fair game for discussion, especially with a game this old. I can see that it means a bit more for this game as its super heavily plot driven but at the same time why come into a topic discussing the game if you don't want to know anything about it?
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,584
344
126
On the other hand general themes, genre, gameplay, etc should be fair game for discussion, especially with a game this old. I can see that it means a bit more for this game as its super heavily plot driven but at the same time why come into a topic discussing the game if you don't want to know anything about it?
I agree with you until the end, there are plenty of things people want to read about games without seeing spoilers.
 

Stuka87

Diamond Member
Dec 10, 2010
5,215
976
126
On the other hand general themes, genre, gameplay, etc should be fair game for discussion, especially with a game this old. I can see that it means a bit more for this game as its super heavily plot driven but at the same time why come into a topic discussing the game if you don't want to know anything about it?
Because maybe the person in question has not played it, and just wants to read a review if they should buy it while it is in sale? Finding out about the game play and what people think in general terms of it is totally expected, going in to read something that looks like a review, only to have the game ruined for them is kind of BS.

If you REALLY feel strongly about not using spoiler tags, at least put [SPOILERS] in the thread title.
 
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