If you’re not aware of Firewatch yet, head over to firewatchgame.com for an introduction. But here’s the short of it:
Firewatch is a mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness, where your only emotional lifeline is the person on the other end of a handheld radio.
Firewatch is a narrative game that plays as a short story you’re inside of rather than something you beat. There aren’t scores or failure states. Instead, the focus is on beautiful environments, interactive conversations, and a central mystery.
The gameplay mostly consists of hiking around and having interactive conversations with a single other character through a handheld radio you carry. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s about execution. The quality of the environments you’re hiking in and the conversations you’re having are what make the game worth playing.
Firewatch works well as something to play with a friend or partner, too. There’s time to discuss decisions and theories about what is really going on.
Recommending Firewatch is a tricky thing, though. It’s really similar to Gone Home, which was a very divisive “walking simulator” from 2013. The game is 90% about escaping your busy life and walking around the woods. It’d be easy to be disappointed if you were expecting something different.
Firewatch is super well crafted and engaging. But, I’d generally still prefer a game that had a strong tone and narrative and added tight game play: Limbo, Portal and Braid all come to mind. As long as you have your expectations in sync with what the game is, though, it has a lot to offer.
- Turn off “show location on map” in the settings right away. Navigating by landmarks adds to the immersion, and that’s what this game is about.
- Don’t forget to take pictures!
- Play in as few sessions as possible so you can really get into it. It took me 4.5 hours over 4 play sessions.
- There is a run button, but use it sparingly.