Tag Archives: Firewatch

Game Spotlight: Firewatch

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There are a lot of interactive novel style games out there and the majority of them don’t capture my attention at all. So when a game like Firewatch was revealed to us in 2014, for it to not only pique my interest but actually get me fully invested in the game until its release last February, that’s huge! And as it turned out, while I wouldn’t have paid as much as I did for the game, it was still a fantastic experience.

Taking place in 1989, we play the role of Henry, a new fire lookout in the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming. He has a tragic backstory that I won’t spoil for those who haven’t played the game yet, but rest assured, you’re coming into the game pretty somber. He’s taken the job as a way to just be alone for a while and clear his head, but that wouldn’t be any fun, now would it? After what starts off as an innocent warning to a couple of teenage girls lighting fireworks off in the park, from there the story becomes an emotional roller coaster of a mystery plot.

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The world in this game is a beautiful getaway. In the beginning of the game, it might as well be a relaxing adventure as you walk through the forest and explore the area. The art style of the game is absolutely breathtaking, every new place I visited was gorgeous, the vistas are some of the best views I’ve seen in a game. The only downside I had was just the fact we never get to see a soul face-to-face, the best you’ll ever get is the silhouette of two girls in the lake.

Which is a real shame when there are some fantastic characters in there. Henry no matter what route you take is a very interesting and well fleshed out character and Delilah is the same way, no matter how you react to her, if at all. Even the characters you never have a conversation with are interesting, including the two rangers that you find letters between through the game. The world being as small as it is has the ability to really take its time with developing the few characters they have and make them all extremely likable, there really isn’t a character in the game that you’ll actually hate to the point of what you’re supposed to for a villain.

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Now without spoiling the actual content of the game’s story, I wouldn’t be highlighting this game without talking about the controversy of the story and its ending. There were a lot of complaints about the game’s story not ending the way they envisioned it, which is hilarious to me. The majority of these people are not writers (including myself) and for them to expect something to the level of insanity of what they were anticipating is absolutely fucking ridiculous. It’s not a spoiler per se, but if you played the game and expected some crazy alien plot twist to happen in this game, you’re off your rocker. Stop writing fanfiction, your imagination has clearly gotten out of hand.

The story for me was while a little shorter than I was hoping for, I think they could’ve had an extra story arc or two in there to really pad out the game, hopefully if Campo Santo decides to make another game like this, they extend the story a little more and maybe even bring in some face-to-face interactions to really bring out more life into their games and stories. But in Firewatch, I really felt like I was playing through a game and story that would be believable and representative of what would happen if such a situation came up in real life. Every plot twist, every reaction, every bit of dialogue, it comes off as being realistic and genuine. And in video gaming, that’s something that doesn’t happen very often. I left that game thinking I had played something that I could relate to, that I could logically believe happening.

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As a game, it’s not exactly the most intensive game in the world, it’s not like you’re going around shooting stuff, or doing puzzles or anything like that. Firewatch is a game that is all about its story, its characters and its world. It’s not going to blow you away with game mechanics or anything of the sort, but you will remember it for the moments and the memories of you walking through this beautiful forest in Wyoming and enjoying everything around you. It’s a great relaxing game at times and a really intense, thrilling game at other times. Check it out!

Firewatch Spoiler Talk

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It goes without saying, but this article will contain full spoilers to the entire Firewatch story. So if you haven’t played/finished the game yet and you don’t want to know how the game progresses and ends, do not read this article!

Anyways, let’s start right off the bat with the opening sequence of the game. It seems a lot of people had a tough time getting through that first section. I don’t know why honestly, I mean it sucks for Henry, but at this point let’s be honest, we have zero attachment to either Henry or Julia, so for me personally, it didn’t hit me hard at all. For those wondering, I picked Bucket the Beagle, convinced Julia to commute and in the end, put her in a full-time care facility. I figured it would’ve been bad to take care of her myself, given it would likely lead to more alcohol issues, which after watching my girlfriend struggle through this part and picked just that, that’s how it happened.

When it came to the overall mystery of who was listening in on Henry and Delilah’s conversations, I flipped through several options for what the big reveal would have been. Initially, I thought it was some weird government indoctrination experiment (as the reports were supposed to make you believe) but then I had a more harsh idea of what was going on. I was convinced from about the halfway point until the big reveal near the end that when the story ended, Henry would wake up in a mental asylum being asked question after question. I was sure everything we played was all in his own head and the game was going to be about dealing with mental trauma, depression, all that jazz. Turns out after going back into the cave with the anchors, I was wrong.

I had at no point in the entire game thought that Brian Goodwin would be dead, let alone us finding the poor kid’s rotting corpse in the cave. The second I saw the body, I knew and a long “Holy shit…” escaped my mouth when that realization came to me. I realized the story was no longer about Henry’s mental troubles, it was now all about Ned struggling to deal with his son’s death. My girlfriend was upset the whole time after that point, playing the card Delilah was with Ned, thinking he killed Brian, was a bad father, all that stuff. I played half and half on this. Ned was a terrible father, but not because he was abusive or whatnot, but because he either couldn’t see or wouldn’t see that Brian was scared of all the advanced climbing he was having to do, clearly Brian was doing way too much too fast and in the end Ned had him do something that he wasn’t experienced enough for and because of that, Brian didn’t hammer in his anchor hard enough and the rope gave out, falling to his death. Ned knows it’s his fault, but still won’t quite admit it because even to the very day he’s found out, he still believes Brian was just being careless and not that he was inexperienced. Sigh, it always sucks having to deal with a dead child story.

Lastly, the ending. I get why a lot of people are not happy with it, it’s definitely a buzzkill after everything that had happened. We thought we were going to be attacked, possibly killed, that a much larger mystery was going on, all the things that were bigger than what the ending ended up being. But honestly, it shouldn’t be bothering people as much as it has been. Firewatch is clearly a game built on real people with real emotions, so why would the game end with some over the top alien conspiracy level of ending? It makes zero sense.

The only thing that sucks is we never get to see Delilah. This woman we spent hours talking with and we never got to at least see her face. I think it would’ve been much better for people if we at least got to see a photograph of her, at least leaving Henry something to remember her by, as regardless of what you say to her she leaves you and you’ll likely never see or hear from each other again. For a game that clearly wants you to care about the relationship formed between Henry and Delilah, they sure didn’t want to bring any closure to it. That I will accept as being frustrating.

So what did you think about the entire Firewatch story? Leave your ideas and comments below!

Firewatch Non-Spoiler Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Top 10 Games I’m Looking Forward to in 2016

2015 was a pretty good year for gaming, a lot of great stuff came out. But who gives a fuck, it’s 2016! So with that, let’s do the Top 10 games I’m looking forward to in 2016!

 

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When I initially saw the concept of No Man’s Sky, I was blown away. Now those parts of me that were lost have returned and haven’t felt much wind since. Because the game is getting closer and closer to launch and I still have not much of a clue what the game will actually be like in full, I’m becoming more and more skeptical as time goes on. Granted, the game looks fucking gorgeous, the art style is fantastic. But the game itself is still a bit dodgy, considering we don’t know much about it other than you explore and name things. If it’s more than that, awesome, if it’s not much more, that’s worrisome.

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IT’S SO FUCKING CUTE!!! Seriously though, it’s really freaking cute! I would’ve actually been okay with just this announcement at Sony’s E3 conference, but I guess the Final Fantasy VII remake reveal was pretty good too. I’m not 100% sure what to expect from World of Final Fantasy yet, but at least in terms of its design, it looks like a fun little game to play. I just hope there’s at least some sort of cohesive story to it and not just chibi Lightning still being a bitch in it.

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Another game I would put so much higher on this list, but over time its value has decreased based on what I’ve seen. Ubisoft alone based on their track record the past couple years is part of it, but the constant pushing back of the game’s release date is also a little worrisome. Though I’m still very excited about the potential this game has to keeping my attention much like Destiny has been doing, just instead as a realistic 3rd-person shooter. Though to be more addictive than Destiny is a feat I’m not sure anything can do to me right now.

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This is a game that continues to interest me the more I see of it. The idea of being alone in the beautiful, yet slightly unnerving environment is really interesting. The fact you have someone talking with you the whole time counterbalances that alone feeling too, so you’re not stuck experiencing one side of the emotional spectrum. The “story” that we’ve seen so far is very interesting and I cannot wait to play this game when it releases, it sounds and looks like a nice, short experience.

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My brain still continually tells me this game will likely be okay at best, but I cannot help myself for being as excited as I am for this game to come out. The initial trailer at E3 this year had me hooked, I love the world, I love the concept, I love the battle mechanics and I love the main character. Everything about this game so far spells awesome to me, but only a matter of time will tell. It’s also been very quiet since about this game, so that could be taken as a bit of a bad sign. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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I’ve liked Fire Emblem games since they started coming out on the GBA in North America, but when Awakening came out on the 3DS, that was it, the series had me hooked. And yes, it was partially because of the more casual mode where permadeath isn’t a thing (I’m really bad at these games, I kinda need it!). Fates is really exciting for me, though I’m still a bit miffed about the two separate copies. But if the games are good enough to be worth the asking price, I’m all for it.

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I had almost zero intentions of playing the game at first, mainly because ever since Final Fantasy XII, Square has shown me that they’ve forgotten how to make a good Final Fantasy game. But then the demo for XV came out and I shut the hell up, it was fantastic, I love the new battle system, it’s far more intensified now. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the main cast, I really didn’t get a good idea as to what they’re all about. But I did get Cidney (Cindy). And I’m pretty happy about that.

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So you’re telling me that my favourite series of the past decade in Shin Megami Tensei is getting mixed together with one of my other favourite series of this past decade in Fire Emblem?! Nintendo didn’t ever have to show me any game footage, I already had pre-order plans for this game. And I don’t pre-order shit anymore.

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Like I just said, my favourite series of the past decade and the Persona games are the reason for it. Persona 3 was fantastic and Persona 4 was fucking phenomenal. By that logic, Persona 5 is going to blow me away. The music already is as great as it has ever been, the art design is beautiful and weird as fuck at the same time, the characters look awesome and interesting and of course the gameplay looks solid, somehow even better than Persona 4. I’m ready, Atlus. Take me.

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This game is slotted for Q4 of 2016. I don’t believe for a second that date will last, my best case scenario is March of 2017 to be honest. But that won’t stop me from listing this as the easy #1 pick for the game I’m looking forward to the most in 2016. The Mass Effect trilogy was an incredible (albeit a little weak on the ending) journey that introduced me to a ton of characters I’m in love with still to this day, tons of memorable moments and an entire universe I can’t wait to go back to. Here’s hoping when this game is released, it’s everything we ever dreamed of and more.

 

And that’s the list everyone! Hope you enjoyed it. As always if you have a different opinion, don’t hesitate to list your top 10s in the comments below!