While it’s short and perhaps a tad bit expensive for the hours you can put into, Firewatch is a fantastic journey with a unique art style, phenomenal voice acting and a strong, investing story, albeit with what some view as a weak ending.
The game is set in a massive forest park in Wyoming, you play the role of Henry, an older man with a (without spoiling it) a troubled past who takes the job as a fire lookout as a way to get away from everything he’s been dealing with. The job itself is pretty straightforward, sit in a chair up in a lookout tower and keep your eyes open for smoke and fires. Though as the game goes on, it becomes much more than that.
The shining star of Firewatch is in its voice acting. This may be the game that feels the most real to me and the voice acting is large in part the reason why. Rich Sommer (Henry) and Cissy Jones (Delilah) do a phenomenal job with their respective roles and the chemistry between them is absolutely perfect. The relationship between Henry and Delilah is of a teasing manner at first, but as the game moves on, your choices can change just where the relationship goes. You can be nice to her, a dick to her or just toss around witty remarks like you’re a less-vulgar version of Deadpool. Any option you pick works and both voice actors make it work extremely well.
In terms of the gameplay, if you’re looking for anything with substance, you’re not going to find it in Firewatch. The gameplay essentially is walking around, checking your map and compass, picking up and examining things and talking on the radio, that’s about it. There’s no fighting, no shooting, nothing of high-focus value. It’s a far more relaxing experience, so you can just sit back and enjoy it.
Another major plus for the game is its artstyle. The game is a mixture of modern art and cartoonish styles. The best I can compare it too is like a molding together of Team Fortress 2, Life is Strange and the art style of paintings you’d see in an art gallery. The vistas are breathtaking and every time you walk into a new environment is a wonder. It’s a shame that some sections of the map don’t shine as much, but then again how beautiful can you make a cave? It’s just a ton of rocks.
The one subject people are fighting a lot over is the ending. While the story itself is a wonderful journey, filled with many different emotions, the ending (without spoiling it) for most was either a letdown or just not what they were hoping for given the journey leading up to the end. It’s a tough call, but I think anyone who reaches the end of Firewatch in the end should be looking at the game as something more reminiscent of real life and the ending reflects that.
Finally, the game itself can be finished somewhere between 3-6 hours, depending on how long you take to go through it, whether you rush through or take your time. There’s really not much to do other than the story, there’s no collectibles, no alternate endings, nothing to really bring a lot of replay value to the game. Which sets a few people off with the $20 price tag.
Firewatch is a phenomenal short story kind of game. The graphics are beautiful, the voice acting is some of the best I’ve ever heard and the story is very engaging, it’s hard to stop until it’s over. However the ending leaves some with a little less than what they were hoping for and the initial $20 price tag is a lot for some who are looking for hours played over quality. But if you can deal with a semi-expensive 4-5 hour journey, it’s well worth the price of admission. Otherwise, wait a bit for it to go on sale, $10-15 is definitely a fair price for a game this good.