Firewatch is one of the most anticipated and talked about video games of 2016, and has already eclipsed the 500,000 sales mark in its first month. Campo Santo's "Walking Simulator" places gamers in the shoes of Henry, a troubled man who takes a job as a summer fire lookout in Wyoming. His only link to civilization is the woman on the other end of the radio, Delilah, another fire lookout stationed at a nearby outpost.
The "Walking Simulator" is a relatively new genre of game that mostly focuses on – you guessed it – walking. The genre favors narrative exploration, characters, and emotional themes over high-octane explosions and action. Firewatch can be described as the walking simulator to end all walking simulators. The critical acclaim around Firewatch almost invariably focuses on how beautiful its world is – perfect for screenshots that actually do make for wonderful wallpaper. Thanks to that beauty, not to mention plenty of buzz, Firewatch's publisher Panic returned their investment on the game in a single day. Firewatch has been one of the top reviewed games of this year, too.
But for all of its good reviews and high sales, Firewatch has a number of flaws. The characters fall flat, the narrative is filled with inconsistencies, and glitches hide amidst the stunning scenery. Here are a few of the big mistakes and odd little details found in Firewatch.
Discussion About Kids
During the introduction, the player learns that Henry and Julia met in 1975. This back-and-forth takes place in 1979, and suggests that this is the first time the couple talks about having kids – four years into their relationship. That might seem strange enough, but even the dialogue is a little off. When someone asks you your thoughts on kids, it's pretty unlikely that your first response is a critical take on youthful intelligence.
There aren't many characters in the game. In fact, you never come face-to-face with anyone. Still, Firewatch manages to bring in a pair of stereotypical teenage girls. Complete with annoying dialogue and overactive imaginations, the girls seem more like caricatures than people.
This boombox sits on top of a rock blaring '80s pop music, and the volume doesn't change even when it's knocked down. This may seem like a small problem, but it's a missed opportunity for the developers. Why not make the game's environment more interactive, especially when the dialogue is so canned?
Occasionally Henry jumps across stone gaps and climbs up ropes, but limited programming stops him from fully exploring his environment. Henry can't swim in the lake, for instance, and can't even hike up slight inclines. All games have physical limits, but it would make more sense to contain Henry with piles of boulders or dense thickets of trees, instead of lots of invisible walls.