AT Hiker Plays Firewatch: Day 1 - Building


I've had the game Firewatch for a while, but I just started playing the game today. What makes the game particularly special to me now is that I spent last summer hiking the Appalachian Trail. Many aspects of the game bring back memories from that experience which I think is kind of amazing (given that I'm sitting at a desk and clicking around with a mouse). This probably will spoil some of the game for you if you haven't already played.

Day 1 (Firewatch Land)

  • My initial impression is that the story and setup is impactful, way more than I expected from anything that I'd heard about the game.

  • Small Thing I'm Impressed by #1: When you're picking up beer cans, you can accidentally knock over other beer cans, and it works pretty much exactly as I'd expect animation/physics wise, except that I didn't expect details like that.

  • I'm convinced I could navigate by the topo map, the compass and trail signs. I'm impressed by the thought that went into making that happen because I'm fairly sure that's intentional. For example, in trying to get back to the tower for the first night, I looked at the map figured I might have to walk all the way back down the canyon to get back because the mapped looked too steep to get back any other way past Widowmaker. I wasn't confident and went another way, but it turned out I was right and had just missed the trail sign at the lake.

  • I avoid jogging in game because that's not how I hike. Even when I needed to go longer distances, I always tried to maintain a relaxed pace, and the game's atmosphere makes it feel like I should keep that mentality. It's not some open world game where I want to rush to get to the next mini game.

  • I feel the desire to look around while I'm walking to make sure I'm not missing nice sights that I might never see again.

Day 2

  • When waking up to the second day, the scene is set with a broken window and a "Volunteer to be a Lookout" poster. It's a perfect touch.

  • Small Thing I'm Impressed by #2: have the urge to clean up my vandalized space before I leave for the day. Why? I don't know.

  • I feel like what I'm doing and saying has a tangible effect on the game (radio calls, etc) although I haven't seen much tangible evidence of it yet. I think this comes from being able to make radio calls and not making them, but when I do (and sometimes when I don't) there's another human voice on the other end of the line. Based on how the (voice acting? voice generation?) is done, it seems like the person on the other end of the line has feelings about what I say.

  • I've actually been to a fire watch tower, and most everything (except the fact that the ones I've been to are not in use) looks as expected.

  • Trail signs remain super useful.

  • The fog rolling through the canyon looks great, and the experience of talking about the cold mornings is on point.

  • I got lost following an almost trail that wasn't a trail because I was trying to walk without directly following the map. Fortunately, this time it didn't end in anything bad, I actually got to the right place (although it wasn't marked on the map). Its another case of following the world the game has built and having it work out consistently with what I expected from reading the map.

  • Just as much as during my experience hiking on the AT, overgrown trails are a thing

  • I like that the game rewards exploration without penalizing taking your time (yet)

  • The music feels like foreshadowing, but I'm not sure what

  • I like the randomly coming upon a waterfall after following a stream

  • The rock formations are great, I wonder how they decided to include that kind of thing?

  • Now I'm starting to get some theories about a couple different things happening in the park