Firewatch is a 4-6 hour experience that I won't forget anytime soon, owing to how much I was given to think about and consider from the moment I was plunged into its world to the moment I left it, and beyond.
How I see it, Firewatch isn't a game and I wasn't in control of it. Yes, I played and made choices as Henry, but I'm not Henry. Henry is Henry. He's his own person with his own ideas in mind, that's what makes this game so unique, and in a very good way.
It all starts with an introduction to the main character, who he is and how he ended up here. This is where the game shows one of its core strengths; solid and very focused writing. My entire mood was changed drastically by what's basically an interactive slideshow.
Another great thing is how organically you're introduced to mechanics, the game doesn't use tacky tutorials or arrows and circles to get a point across. You just get it. You quickly get used to the flow of things and start exploring the world around you through the small tasks you're given.
It's easy to dismiss Firewatch as a walking simulator because it's a big chunk of the gameplay, but it's so much more than that. The overwhelmingly gorgeous scenery aside, there's such a joy in doing little things, it almost leads you to believe that this is all there is to it, you begin to relax, but then it hits you.
From the moment you get there, there's always this underlying feeling that something's wrong, it doesn't take long for that to be true. The way this game builds a suspenseful and thrilling atmosphere using music and changes in the world around you all the way to the end is incredible. There are no jumpscares (except an optional one, look it up) but it doesn't need them to keep you on edge.
My main gripe with the game would be the (at times) clunky terrain navigation. I think adding more climbing options would've helped in traversing the world in a much smoother way. Frequently, I'd run into dead ends or see a way through that's blocked off for no good reason and I just had to find another way in/out.
I've danced around so many details to make sure I don't spoil anything. This is a game worth exploring (or hiking through ayyyy) for yourself. What I would say about the ending is that it left me. Not with anything, it just… Left. Just me and my thoughts. What I thought it meant or why it had to be this way. I wished things were different, but then again, I feel like that's the point.
Firewatch is a game that plays you, in the sense that it makes you feel what it wants you to feel, it gives you all the questions and leaves you to answer them for yourself. It's not interested in being what you want as much as being what it is and making you face it. It's a brilliant and very special gaming experience and I highly recommend it.
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