Firewatch

So I want to talk a little bit about the game called Firewatch.

First and foremost, I really enjoyed the game immensely, for several reasons:

  1.  No violence!  A refreshing change among the ocean of blood and gore filled, killing obsessed blockbuster titles of today.  Seriously, why do we have to have killing and fighting in almost every single new game that comes out these days???  I feel I might likely go into this topic in more detail in another post, as I believe it deserves more focused discussion…
  2. First person only.  Yes, I like this perspective.  In fact, I like it so much that it’s rare that I will thoroughly enjoy a game these days if it does not at least have the “option” for first person.  While third person perspective can be interesting and fun in certain contexts, most of the time I want to feel like I am inside the game, not on the outside looking in.  I want to feel like I am the “toy” myself, not just manipulating the “toy”.  Of course, this is my own preference.  Firewatch does an amazing job of the first person view though, and I’d imagine precisely because it’s focused solely on this being first person only.  When you look down you can actually see your own body, and when you move around while looking down you can actually see your own body’s movements portrayed in a “realistic” fashion.  I like that.  It’s immersive.  I like immersion.
  3. The graphical style is absolutely gorgeous!  No, it’s not photo realistic.  But it is believably realistic while also being artistically tasteful and beautiful.  Coupled with the immersive first person view, it truly is a gorgeous game that I don’t mind spending my time in.
  4. The emotionally tense narrative.  The whole interplay between you, the protagonist, and your single emotional lifeline on the other end of your walkie-talkie, creates several moments of suspense and drama that hits you right in the feels.  I like that.
  5. Choice.  Now, this is a point that has the potential of being divisive in terms of opinion, I’d imagine.  It’s also one of the main points about the game that I think I can not say too much about without the risk of presenting unnecessary spoilers.  Therefore, suffice to say, I really like the way it was implemented and how the perception of persistent impact on the world is created in a very believable and ultimately realistic way.  Play it for yourself and let me know what you think about this point.

Now, there were a few things I didn’t like so much, which I supposed is to be expected in just about any game – perfection is a subjective rarity that ultimately cannot be expected from any developer:

  1. The game is too short!  Now don’t get me wrong.  I think for the narrative presented it’s the perfect length and realistically could not have been expected to play out any longer.  But it’s precisely because it was laid out in such an emotionally and dramatically involving way it left me not wanting to leave the world.  At the end I truly had a sense of sadness that the story is now over.  Even the way in which it ends, it more than significantly implies a continuation of the story in some way and, well maybe, just maybe, leave room for a sequel?  Given the exact story I doubt it, but there certainly is room to play with in terms of another chapter in the life of our protagonist.  Even so, the sense of longing upon reaching the end is akin to how one would feel at the end of a season of Game of Thrones.  You know you’ve reached the end, and it’s OK, but still you wouldn’t mind to have some more…
  2. The fact that you as the player can only play one gender.  Now, given the specific story, that is totally understandable, and being male myself certainly played in my favor as to reaching a deep level of immersion.  I can not help but feel a little sad, however, that female players may necessarily not be able to enjoy the game on the same deep level as male players.  I would imagine that the developers could’ve very easily reversed the gender roles of all the different characters in story to enable the same deep level of immersion by female players, without really changing anything about how the story line played out.  It was structured in such a way to allow fairly easily gender role reversal, although development would’ve of course been nearly doubled in time.  Still, I wished they implemented a female protagonist version – the game is that good as to deserve it.
  3. Not much else, if I’m honest.  It’s a beautiful as well as sad story portrayed in a relaxing yet stimulating way that makes for a wonderful couple hours or so of total escapism into another world.

If you haven’t played Firewatch yet, I do urge you, do yourself the favor and pick it up for yourself and throw away a few hours of your life into this beautifully immersive story.  As an immaculate piece of narrative and audio-visual art, this game deserves to be recorded in history as a classic!  9/10!!!

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