I picked up FireWatch in the Christmas steam sale and finally got round to playing it a few weeks back. It was released in 2016 so it fairly old and was available at a very cheap price. I played it on Linux where it worked perfectly. Even though the game is five years old I had avoided any spoilers before playing it!
FireWatch falls into the walking simulator genre, while slightly trendy at the moment due to Death Stranding, my last experience with a walking simulator was Gone Home.
Even though I enjoyed the relaxed mechanics of Gone Home I am sorry to say the story did not pull me in. When it comes to games built on a strong narrative I guess it is fairly common that a certain percentage of people just won't get pulled in by the story. Kind of like films, particularly once you stray outside of the generic/derivative Hollywood blockbusters.
FireWatch similarly sells itself on its strong narrative and the story really pulled me in. Perhaps a bit too much as I found myself rushing through the game to trigger the next stage of the story. In a few months I expect I will return to it and play it at a more leisurely pace soaking up more of the atmosphere.
The game is about a guy who takes a job over the summer at a FireWatch tower to escape or take a break from his life that is at a particularly depressing time. While at FireWatch his only interactions are with his boss via a walkie talkie. Err stuff happens none of which I will spoil.
Both characters are fairly floored characters, not so deeply they can't function but enough to give them layered real person feeling. The dialogue is excellently written and the voice acting is, for want of a better word, awesome. This is honestly what makes the game.
The overall story is also very good and something I think about in spare moments a few weeks after finishing the game. Another sign of a good story.
Now it is time to focus on the negative. There isn't much, if there was I would not be taking the time to write this review.
During dialogue between the two main characters you are able to select responses in conversations. You have a time limit to select a response, I found this a little bit short and it would time out and select the response I was on. Maybe I was giving too much thought to the response but I would have liked slightly longer. I appreciate the time limit simulates real life conversations in a nice way.
The shortness of the time out all but precludes a second play through with my other half, as an alternative to say film night. We would not be able to agree on a response in the time allowed.
My second complaint is it felt a little short. I appreciate budgets may have been tight or perhaps editing got it just right and any longer and it would have reduced the pacing. I would have like to stay a little longer in the world they had created. A second play though with have a different feel to it.
I am only thinking an extension of an hour or two as these days I am a fan of shorter games. That's all the negative I have for this game. As it takes 3-4 hrs to play through you should buy the game at a price that you are comfortable playing for that much entertainment. It is an old game and often on sale.
After I completed the game I read some reviews and various online commentary and was surprised to find people did not like the ending. I think it was exactly what it should have been. Yes it trigger some emotions which I wont describe as they could be spoilers but it felt like the right ending to me.
I very much recommend this game. Obviously it has a different pacing to the latest Call of Duty but for me it was a great way to spend a couple of evenings.
Images taken from the official press media pack and re-scaled to better fit this site.