Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Firewatch Review With Big O and Rory

Firewatch is one of those rare games to come along that really makes you appreciate all the work that went into it.  From the gorgeous sceneries, to the brilliant dialogue, and even the compelling story, you would be hard pressed to find no enjoyment from this game.  Rory and I both bought this game launch day and have since completed it. I though it would be fun to compare both our thoughts of the game.  We’ll start with Rory’s report and I’ll respond after.

Rory: Firewatch broke my heart.  Once in the first 5 minutes, and once in the last 10.  A tale of loneliness and grieving, Firewatch hits more emotional strings than any game I've played int he last few years.

Exploring the Wyoming forest as a fire lookout, a woman begins talking to you on your walkie-talkie. She runs another fire watchtower across the valley, and you spend the whole summer with only her voice as your only companion. Your character, Henry, and her have an instant chemistry. They have some of the best banter I've experienced in a video game.

They get to know each other on a more personal level as the summer goes on, as mysteries begin to unravel in the woods around you.

The artstyle is beautiful. A minimalist almost cell shaded look makes the vistas look fantasic. Unfortunately the PS4 version of the game runs very poorly. Texture pop-up and frame rate dips are the main culprits, but the game did freeze at one point and forced me to close the app. The game is also very short, being able to be run through in 3-5 hours. That being said, Firewatch uses it's short time wisely and does not feel cheapened by the short run time.
Regardless of those few qualms, Firewatch is a must play for anyone who loves a great story. I had a hard time putting it down to do anything else. Firewatch has found a place in my heart, even if it had to break it to get there.

Big O: I have to agree with Rory about he intro to this game.  It can be heart wrenching.  The biggest comparison I’ve heard is the intro to Up (spoiler for first 5 minutes of Up I guess).  I was playing it with Panda and we actually had a difficult time getting through it.  At the same time, this sequence is vital to understand the mindset that your character is in when he decided to take this job away from anyone.  I didn’t find the ending upsetting, more I felt empty once it was done.  I had just gone on this amazing journey over the past few hours and now it was over. 

I’ll say that the game felt a little short.  I clocked in around 3.5 hours from start to finish.  I’ve been discussing this with some people online and others have been saying it has taken them around 5.  So, I guess that comes down to how you play.  I find this funny because I defiantly didn’t speed through this game.  Truth be told, I got lost a couple times.  I agree with Rory about there being graphical hiccups, but at the same time it was nothing game breaking and I feel these things can easily be patched out later.  I had the game freeze on me once and I’m almost curious if it was the same place where Rory had his.  None of these inconveniences were enough to take me out of the experience.  I was still thoroughly engaged and didn’t want to put the controller down. 

I’ve already mentioned how strong the narrative is, but I find this particularly interesting considering almost the entire story is told between Henry and Delilah.  The game really makes you feel the isolation as the relationship between these two develops.  The two characters share witty quips back and forth.  I grew so dependent on this banter that I actually felt lonely when Delilah wasn’t speaking to me. 

This game is a buy for me, however you should consider the game length when determining whether you wish to spend $20 on the final product.  For some of you, it might be better to wait for it to go on sale sometime over the next year.  Whatever you decide, I highly recommend this journey into the wilderness. 

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