Firewatch

Firewatch

Firewatch is kind of brilliant. For starters, it’s appropriated the derisive term “walking simulator” into gameplay that literally sees players hiking the trails of a national park. Secondly, its understanding of and ability to manipulate its audience is almost eerie. The level design and premise railroad the player without revealing that they’re doing so, and the audio design and plot progression induce a constant paranoia with nothing but a few unexplained noises and errant lines of dialogue. All of this is in service to a hard-hitting message about the dangers of retreating from reality. The problem with resolving a mystery in deliberately anticlimactic fashion should be obvious, but it’s exacerbated here by the sheer number of red herrings and an ultimate explanation that makes less sense than any of the more fantastical ones I had in my head. Still, it’s the old journey-versus-destination adage, and Firewatch will appeal to anyone looking for a second dose of Gone Home’s magic or a less experimental, more meaningful version of Dear Esther.

6.5/10
6.5/10

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