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23 Observations On 17 Minutes Of Firewatch

First-person wedding ring

I haven't been entirely sure what to make of Firewatch [official site], the upcoming great outdoors adventure/exploration title from a mini-supergroup of ex-Double Fine/ Telltale/ Lucasarts/ Klei/ Lionhead devs, because I wasn't entirely sure what it was. Having just watched a quarter of an hour of it, I still don't entirely know what it's going to become, but I really, really like it. It seems to have this laid-back pace and tone and tons of slow-burn character-building while still being very, well, gamey. I really hope that pace and tone can be maintained throughout. Also it looks like somewhere I'd really love to go and live in for a while.

The footage and my own assorted as-they-happened thoughts, including observations on underwear, caves and wedding rings, are below.

  • Orienteering! With a map and a compass and getting vaguely confused and everything.
  • The orange colours are nice. Perpetual sunset, but not in a Michael Bay way.
  • The forest looks foresty, something I'd actually like to hike through.
  • Laid back dialogue. Exasperated rather than heroic characters, just doing their job.
  • Reporting underwear lying on the ground feels simultaneously mundane and filthy.
  • Dialogue offers the choice to be hectoring, playful, anxious as you interact with others.
  • Other characters seem to be kept at a distance or only heard, maybe it doesn't want to disrupt the fantasy with uncanny faces?
  • You can steal a boombox! The guy throws it in a stream here, but I'll just bet someone finds a way to carry it with them for the whole game.
  • Seems to have lots of just-because object interactions, a la Gone Home but it's in this huge outdoor space.
  • The environment is slightly Team Fortress 2y. Not a bad thing. There are quite a few photo-real forests doing the rounds now, so it's almost refreshing to see something stylised.
  • The main character has kind of a dorky run.
  • Super-minimal UI, with big pressy buttons and words popping up when needed.
  • How strange it is to see a wedding ring on a first-person hand. Has the happened before?
  • Caves! Games are full of caves, but because we don't yet know what sorts of things are out there or what the character is capable of defending himself against, it's exciting/scary in this context. Like going into a random cave you find during a hill walk.
  • Lots of comedy sparring/flirting between the two characters. I hope some Will They/Won't They overtone doesn't take over entirely. It's going to be more fun when they're mildly combative.
  • Ben thinks the main guy is voiced by Harry from Mad Men, but I think he sounds a little too gruff. But I dunno, ACTING.
  • Surprise full-throated karaoke rendition of Africa by Toto!
  • What a nice, starry night sky that is. The great outdoors, the big sky, the great escape we all dream of when it all gets too much.
  • Outside toilets with no apparent drainage system. I'm glad games can't do smells yet.
  • Lots of rock-climbing and trailfinding, but very low-key. A little like Far Cry 3/4 without the mania.
  • I like that there's basically a Jobsworth Button - reporting every minor infraction, disturbance or object you stumble across. It's like the Ubisoft icon-hoovering, but with litter-spotting. There's a purpose at least, keep this place clean and safe.
  • I really want to spend a couple of weeks living in the protagonist's little watch tower with the amazing views. No internet, no bills, no nothin' but the land.
  • Who would throw his typewriter out of the window? Is this a Secret Window thing?
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About the Author
Alec Meer avatar

Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about videogames.

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