I looked forward to Firewatch, as it was supposed to be one of those unique games with focus upon exploration and solving a mystery. The environments looked beautiful, and I’m always excited to play games that don’t have the traditional gameplay. I mean, it’s a mystery game with exploration; where can I sign up?
The game is short; my Steam clock says I finished in 4.3 hours. And I was kind of bored three-fourths of that time.
The game is beautiful, I’ll give it that. I had a good time exploring the lay of the land, taking screenshots and photos with the disposable camera the protagonist found, and at moments, I was as tense as my character. But when the big reveal happened, when I learned exactly what this mystery was all about, I said out loud, “That’s it?”
I didn’t like Gone Home either for the same reason, but at least the story in Gone Home made sense and was believable. It was believable that this woman came home to an empty house, not because something horrific happened, but because
- She didn’t tell her family when she was coming home;
- Her parents made out-of-town plans; and
- Her sister decided to run away.
All of those reasons are 100% believable. If I didn’t tell my family I was coming home at a certain day and time, I’d probably come home to an empty house too. I mean, not for the same reasons, but the probability is high that they would be doing other things.
I’m not saying that the mystery in this case isn’t believable, because it is, but none of it makes sense as it why it’s even happening in the first place. Some time, when more time as passed and I feel more comfortable giving spoilers, I’ll go more into this one. For now, all I will say is that I feel like the developer created an emotional introduction for the sake of trying to jerk some tears, but the intro ended up being incredibly irrelevant. In addition, the mystery makes no sense as to why it was even going on. As a friend of mine said this morning, it’s like a novice’s stab at suspense novel. Everything was built up to be so tense and so dramatic, and the end result was, well, boring.
You want a great mystery built upon exploration? Here are some recommendations: Dear Esther, Murdered: Soul Suspect, and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Those are great examples; Firewatch is not.