This game is beautiful.

I could leave the review at that and it would almost be enough – the star player is the environment (of course, as you barely see another human for the duration of the game) with its crisp colours, sunset-illuminated vistas, and its unforgiving paths. That said, there’s beauty in the script too, with an introduction that crushes your feelings to a pulp before you do anything but click a few times and a constant warm dialogue between the protaganist and the co-worker in the neighbouring tower.

I felt the pacing was perfect – any time it was getting a little dull or samey, you’d get a wisecrack over the radio. Walking around and exploring never felt overwhelming but never felt too constricted either. This was helped by the map (THE MAP!). I really love this game’s map – it feels like part of the game in ways that other game maps just can’t seem to grasp. Whereas most games have either a tiny always-present minimap or a map you can only access via a pause menu, Firewatch gives you a physical map that your character scribbles all over. This gives it a personality that other game maps lack, avoiding the grim sameness that a computer generated map with a key just can’t avoid. I also liked that it didn’t hold your hand – to work out which way to go always required a few moments’ thought and occasionally checking the compass.

Overall, I’d highly recommend this game. Despite its reasonably short playtime (I got 4.3┬áhours out of it, according to Steam’s stats), it’s an immersive experience that really packs an emotional punch.

And it’s beautiful.

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