Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
As an experienced gamer I was to surprised to find out there was a whole genre of games that I had never tried before. Walking simulators are a relatively new game genre and there are many games in this genre that have been very highly rated. Of course, the caveat of ‘Walking Simulators are not for everyone’ is banded about far too much for a statement that could be true of any genre of game so I decided I would try this genre of games by downloading one of the most highly rated walking simulators; Firewatch. The game delivered on so many fronts and still lingers but something still doesn’t feel quite right.
Walk This Way
The game is a single player narrative based game where the story revolves a man called Henry who escapes his troubling past to live a life as a lookout for Shoshone National Forest. After learning much of his back story you are curious to find out how his relationship with his new supervisor, Delilah, unfolds as the two speak over radio throughout the game. Most of the game play is spoon fed to you through Delilah’s character which is something I was not expecting when I bought the game but the game play soon becomes the norm as the story develops. It may take some time to feel engrossed in the story but after roughly halfway through you will be hooked.
At times it didn’t feel too dissimilar to LA Noire as the air of mystery was clearly apparent throughout the duration of the game. Often having to trek fair distances to unveil more of the story and surveying the surrounding area of your destination for ways to unravel the story further are my main reasons for the LA Noire comparison as the rest of the game is very much based around the dialogue. There are moments of genius and at other times the conversation is simply background noise to the actions you take within the game. The nice thing about this game is there are a few dialogue choices that allow you to control more of the personality of your character which is a nice feature.
Been There, Scene That
One of the first things that drew me into playing Firewatch was the graphics. There is clearly a fair amount of artistic scope in a game that focuses on the great outdoors and Campo Santo have done an exceptional job of making the scenery as colourful as possible. By no means are the graphics realistic but they are certainly immersive. Walking through the forest is at times stunning with great detail in the differences between night and day.
There is nothing ground-breaking here graphically there is something unique about the way Firewatch looks and it suits the game very well. However, as much as I praise the graphics there is a question mark about the smoothness of the game on PS4 as I often experienced stuttering and a loss of framerate whilst I played through the storyline. Despite these niggles, the game is still enjoyable but you may have to accept that your engrossment within the game may be interrupted on a few occasions.
Time to Venture
Firewatch does not boast a long campaign. In fact, the campaign is incredibly short but the silver lining to this is the story will live long in the memory. Without spoiling the story for players who have yet to complete the game, let’s just say that there’s scope for there to be a sequel as some mysteries are left without answers. It has dawned on me that a lot of these walking simulator games are short but tell profound stories so Firewatch does not break from the norm and luckily the price reflects that at a modest £14.99. However, I can’t help but feel like a paid for a game that, in essence, was incomplete.
If you are looking for a quick game to get into then Firewatch presents a reasonable option but heed the caveat of ‘walking simulators are not for everyone’. There is very little game play when compared to traditional games, a very linear story progression and a lot less game time than most other games which has deterred many who have played the game and resulted in low scores on other review sites.
If you are intrigued by the sound of Firewatch then there are not many reasons to not try it. The game should come with a warning of ‘Not to everyone’s preference’ but even so Firewatch justifies its price by delivering such an engrossing story. There is an argument to say that the game hasn’t delivered a full story with so many unanswered questions but maybe that is part of the game’s charm. It’s not too much more to go to the movies and you could easily spend more money on a meal. I would hedge my bets to say that Firewatch would be better value for money than both of those options combined! Who knows, you may even be able to combine the two when Firewatch makes it to the big screen.