Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Firewatch (PC) Review

This is not a feeble attempt to be a contrarian, but I fail to see how this game has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. It is possible that I am missing something?I don't see how. Allow me elaborate.

My first introduction to walking simulators was with Dear Ester. I thought it was an interesting game, but I cannot recommend it at the asking price of $9.99 (at the time of this writing). There was absolutely no replay value, and the game is over in about 4 hours. It was an amusing experience, but it felt more like a level in a Half Life game, than a full fledged single player game. Nevertheless, I felt the genre had potential to be great. I heard good things about Firewatch and I wanted to play it, because I thought it was going to be a much better game.

Having just finished the game, my reaction is very mixed. Let's begin with the positive aspects of the game.

The world of Firewatch is very interesting. I can't think of a single game that it set in Wyoming. The visuals are excellent. I have always been partial to cell shaded graphics (XIII is still on my list of Must Play titles). The map is fairly large, and exploring can be fun. The dialogue and voice acting is also quite good for the most part, and considering how awful video game writing and dialogue can be, this is quite an achievement. I did not cringe once.

The dialogue tree is well implemented. The choices made in dialogue do not matter to the ending. All choices lead to the same conclusion, its just a matter of putting a different spin on a predetermined story line. The good writing is complemented by good voice acting.

Technically, the game is very functional. Had absolutely no issues running the game at 3440x1440 (Ultrawide resolution; 21:9 aspect ratio).

Also, there is quick save! A feature that was a standard in PC games back in the day...

That's about it. Those are the only positives I can think of. Now let's talk about the mediocre.

The story starts out very strong. It had me invested, but the pay off was so weak. Once I found out what was really going on, the whole experience felt very pointless. In a game where gameplay is very minimal, the story has to carry the weight, and in Firewatch, it does not.

I am glad the game is only 4 hours long, because once I found out the "mystery", I did not feel like playing it for much longer, and thankfully, the game concludes very shortly.

While this is a first person game, do not expect fluid controls. Walking is slow and there is no jump or crouch, except in context specific situations. This means, when the player encounters small obstacles on the map, unless the game specifically allows you to jump or vault over it, you are stuck. In addition to this, walking is very slow, and jogging is barely faster. I suppose I understand why it was done this way, but it annoyed me.  

There are items in the game that you can pick up, and I fail to see how they serve any purpose at all. It feels as if there was some crafting mechanic that was initially planned, but was scrapped.

In conclusion, I don't understand the point of this game. I think this is a better game than Dear Ester, but for the asking price of $19.99, I cannot recommend it.

Veridct - Buy it for $1