- Games like this make me wonder if Aarseth wasn’t on to something…at times this game did feel a bit like work.
- I won’t reveal any spoilers, but the ending was far less nefarious than it could have been.
- The Shoshone National Forest location looked great, and although I saw at least one reviewer complain about having no animals, I can only imagine how much additional work adding ground squirrels and birds would have been, let alone the occasional appearance of larger herbivores (or even a predator).
- That said, the transition from beautiful forest that is rarely visited to a raging hellstorm of a fire site was really cool. Being forced to walk through it, rather than just experiencing it in a movie, with constant framing shots on the stars’ faces, felt meditative. I didn’t feel at risk after discovering the big secret, perhaps because I couldn’t talk with Dee.
- The handheld camera feel of the point of view from the character’s perspective was a bit hard to get used to, and I kept over-adjusting. I wonder if the thought was to try to recreate actual sight, rather than having that perfect video game sight that I guess I expected. I am not sure how many other games do that, but it was clearly an intended effect, as even the splash screen had it.
- My guess is that the game deliberately plays with the contrast between gameplay perspectives – the player-character is locked into the imperfections of actual vision, all the while living in a firetower and observing all that goes on around them. This splash page speaks to that contrast…
- While I got frustrated with some of the ways to move the narrative forward, and even resorted to a cheat sheet or two (thank you Steam community!), I did appreciate the long walk to Dee’s tower. I had a chance to reflect upon the denouement in ways that I sometimes don’t in a book or film, and that reflection helped me think about the story from a couple of different perspectives.
- Having just read Skonick’s book on videogame storytelling, it was hard not to notice that Firewatch follows many of the rules he identified for concise and interesting storytelling. Not sure how it does for ludonarrative harmony, though…