Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Firewatch. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.
Firewatch is missing a lot of things that many modern games boast about. There's no online multiplayer or extensive DLC plans. You won't find a collector's edition with a statue for sale anywhere or a line or irreverent products. What you will find though in Campo Santos' debut are thrillingly engaging characters a world that's a blast to explore and a story that makes it worthwhile to play through the whole thing. There are a lot of these "walking simulators" on the market now, but Firewatch may be the best one yet.
Don't let it fool you though, Firewatch packs an emotional punch right from the moment you start the game. I don't want to spoil anything from this pivotal sequence but the text based choices you'll make are reminiscent of the first ten minutes of Pixar's Up. It balances carefully on the line between funny and heart wrenchingly emotional so well that the sucker punch feels less like an emotional ploy and more like a worthwhile intro into the game's world. This is just the beginning of Firewatch crafting a near masterful world and characters that you're going to want to know everything you can about.
You play as Henry, a park ranger in Wyoming. It's the 1980s and it also happens to be one of the state's most dry summers in recent memory. Henry takes the job, mainly acting as a lookout for wildfire's and other threats to the ecosystem as a way to move past the events that led him here. It's a solitary job as Henry is often left with only the creatures around him and the voice of Delilah, another ranger, coming over his walkie talkie. In theory alone, this should be the perfect job for Henry; it's pretty much just him and his thoughts but as you would probably expect something goes horribly wrong and Henry has to summon bravery he didn't know he even had to get to the bottom of the mystery.
The game itself plays out as a Telltale-esque adventure game played completely in the first person. Light mechanics and conversation options are the order of the day and they work well here because of how how well written the whole experience is. The world is immersive and the characters are dynamically written, making you care about not just making the right decision but making the right decision for the characters involved. At no time during Firewatch's four to five hour experience did Henry ever feel like an action hero, he felt like a regular guy, with regular guy fears and regular guy worries. He huffs and puffs as he struggles to climb ropes or escape dangers and all this manages to make a strong character who I actually genuinely cared about.
While you'll play as Henry, the true star of the game is the Wyoming wilderness itself. The game takes place over the course of one summer and different chapters are represented as different days, allowing the game to create some truly stunning scenery. Gorgeous colors become the norm when the sunsets and there's a remarkable amount of life to be found in the wilderness park. There's no user interface or heads up display to speak of and it creates the feeling of the player truly being isolated and that peril can happen anywhere or at any time. You'll need to use your compass and map to find your way from objective to objective and it can be pretty terrifying when you have no idea where you are in the middle of the night and you start to hear a rumbling behind you. Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? I have, and Firewatch does a damn good job at recreating that feeling.
Since completing the game I've found a few posts on different sites discussing and more often than not complaining about the way that the game ends. While I'll admit that I didn't find the revelation at the game's conclusion to be as rewarding as I thought it would be, it did make me go back and play through the game a second time to see what I missed, to see if there was something I could have done to arrive at a better conclusion, or at least understand the one presented. While I didn't, somehow during the second play through I did appreciate the ending a bit more than I did the last go-round. The way I figure it, the characters of Firewatch are so well written and voiced that I wanted the best for them and when that didn't happen I was a bit disappointed, but make no mistake it is a definitive ending.
Firewatch reminded me more of sitting down with a good book than it did of playing a video game. At every story beat and every critical turn, I wanted to keep turning the digital pages so to speak and find out what happened. With Firewatch, Campo Santo joins the ranks of studios like Telltale and Double Fine as the masters of the adventure game and I can't wait to see what comes next from them.
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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