Firewatch: From the ashes...
When I first saw the trailer for this game back in 2015 (I think on an E3 trailer reel), I was disappointed at first that it wasn't to be released on Xbox, but still somewhat interested by the concept and the general feel of the game. When it was later announced for Xbox I couldn't wait to play it, having not looked at any reviews since that initial glimpse. A while after it's release I was going through some of my backlog which had contained a handful of walking simulators. The preachy narrative of those really put me off playing any other walking simulators, so when it came to finally starting Firewatch after my "No new games in 2016" stint, the initial dialogue caused me to bail on it. I put the game down and didn't look at it again until near the end of 2017.
Fast forward to December 2017, True Achievements was hosting their "12 Days of Christmas" community event, I had just started Day 7 "Seven Achievements in Different Games" and I was looking for quick easy games to get one achievement in, Firewatch popped back up on my radar. I booted it up, skipped through the opening dialogue (which I might boot back up to go through again knowing what I know now), and started the game. I wouldn't say that I was hooked, but my opinion of the game had realigned itself back to when I had previously seen the initial trailer. Oh the damage some bad games can do to other great games when you think they fall into the same genre*.
So after grabbing a few achievements from the start of the game, I put it back down again. I wanted to revisit it when I had time to enjoy it for what it was, and then came Day 12 of the "12 Days of Christmas". Having just finished South Park: The Fractured But Whole, and picked off two Saints Row achievements that were soon to be made unobtainable, I noticed that I had completed Day 11. Previously I'd given up on the event because I really didn't have time to get 11 Story Based achievements. Seeing that Day 12 was unlocked "Twelve Achievement Leap Frog", I checked what games I could do with low TA Score. Threes, Brothers, Samurai Shodown, Saints Row, Firewatch. I started alternating games as required to leapfrog the TA score and by the end of it, I just wanted to keep playing Firewatch, so I did.
Without spoiling anything in the game, it's a gem. If that game was 4-5 times longer, with as more on the edge moments, twists and turns, and that dialogue between Henry and Dililah, I'd have happily paid a AAA price for that game. There were moments in the game where I was afraid. I was waiting for jump scares, but they never came, but I still was on edge the next day. To those out there with it in your backlog, or thinking about buying it, do it and play it as soon as you can. Immerse yourself into the story and don't rush through it. It only takes a few hours to complete, but you should spend an extra few minutes looking around at all the items, reading and examining them.
This was a great game to start the New Year with, hopefully it'll be filled with many more like this.
* I now know that Firewatch is more than a walking simulator, just at the time that's what I thought that it was. Oh was I wrong.