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Firewatch Spoiler Thread | Henry Two Hats

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About Ned's alarmed backpack. I had assumed that it was not at all intentional. It seemed like he hid his backpack somewhere out of the way, and had it alarmed so that if someone tried to take it he'd hear (the fact that he left the key hanging on the side seems a poor choice on his part). The alarm was trackable probably because Ned was repurposing other devices to make his equipment, so he didn't know about the tracker that would lead Henry right to it.

 

Sorry, I should be clear - I don't think that H&D are deliberately and purposefully evil, but their decisions went beyond thoughtlessness and well into the territory of selfishness, like Henry's decisions re Julia's job and her illness, them not wanting to report two potentially missing girls because they think it will be easier if they don't, Delilah's nonchalant attitude about Henry getting assaulted, their general lack of desire to report or confront anything that might be upsetting or unsettling, etc.  

 

They don't seem to be cruel or evil people, but they appear to deliberately choose not to "do the right thing", at least according to my own morality, which is why I'm not surprised that there is no happy ending for them.

 

That makes total sense! I think I was partly just misled by the weird connection I made to the Last of Us.

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I suspended my disbelief long enough such that the actual reveal of what Ned was up to out there made logical sense, but my main issue was that it didn't really impact me all that much. It sets up a Lost-style mystery, and in the end, it's not really that mysterious at all. It makes perfect sense, but it is a bit anticlimactic.

Part of my problem was that I didn't really connect with Brian. I was looking for something bigger than Brian, so I sort of glossed over the stories Delilah told, just taking them more as world-building than as a core plot point. So when I discovered his hideout, it was neat, and it made sense in the context of his character, but I just couldn't tell if I should be paying more attention to it or not. When I discovered his body, it didn't really affect me all that much. "Oh, I guess I was supposed to be paying more attention to this guy and not trying to invent wild theories in my head". I didn't get enough of a chance to connect with Ned to care about his motivations.

I think, ultimately, my biggest problem was that Delilah was fascinating to me, so I spent most of my time thinking about her character and sort of skipping over the other details. Cissy Jones' voice acting was top-shelf, and the chemistry between Henry and Delilah was magnificent. To me, most things happening in the game that weren't interactions between Henry and Delilah were just simply not as interesting as their conversations. I actively looked forward to every chance I had to radio her, because I wanted to hear the conversation.

I tried to rationalize it as the mystery being incidental to H&D's interactions, because that's what I was really interested in, but the mystery took centre stage. Something that ultimately ended up being not all that outlandish tried to compete with wonderful characters and dialogue.

I don't want to sound too harsh. I really enjoyed the game a lot. It's beautiful, it's well-written, clearly well-designed, and I found a lot to which I could relate in H&D. The ending was unsatisfying, but in the right way - it really parallels some of my own experiences, and while I wanted a happy ending for H&D, it's increasingly obvious as the game goes on that getting that will be difficult, if not impossible. H&D aren't good people, so they don't necessarily deserve a happy, or even satisfying ending, just because I, the player, really want one. Everything about the ending made perfect sense to me. I felt hollow afterward, but I imagine that's not dissimilar from how Henry would have felt.

Reading through this thread and others, it's amazing how much I missed.

This post sums up my feelings almost word for word, especially the second paragraph about Brian.

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Just finished. Loved it.

 

The ending was fine! The conspiracy turning out to be a lone half sinister, half sad human worked for me.

 

And I don't see any other way it could've gone with Delilah.

 

Looking around her cabin was a joy. 

 

The last picture on my camera was of Brian's corpse and climbing gear. That was a bummer of a credits-sequence opener, lol

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Alec Meer at RPS has an interesting piece up about his reaction to Firewatch.  In the comments he notes that he wrote this as quickly as possible after finishing it to tap into the emotions it brought out in him, but with some recollection, some of his views have changed.  I hope he writes another piece about it.

 

I think it's interesting that the immediate reaction he has about making Henry a "good man" are wrapped mostly around not stepping out, emotionally or physically, even as Henry has literally stepped out of her life and failed to step up again and again.  There's something so....male about that thought process.

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That was really interesting but he seemed to totally just see Henry's wife as a lingering obligation that was not part of his primary story at all. What a weird read on the game.

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Reading the RPS article made me think: What would Firewatch be without Delilah? How would the game work if it was more sandbox-style where you wandered around without the external directions of Delilah? Technically, I think it would be hard to pull off as it would be hard to make sure the player saw things like the fireworks going off in the distance but if that could be handled I wonder if the rest of the game would have the same impact?

 

Personally, I was too suspicious of a twist regarding Delilah's role to allow myself to have any trust in her. Therefore, when she was crushed finding out about the kid, I didn't really feel for her. So I wonder how I would have felt if I was just piecing this all together on my own?

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I strongly relate to Alec's experience. Lovely piece. I quite like the parallel of Henry's escape with the common idea of games as escapism.

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I loved the first and last thirds of this game, but they are missing a middle piece and the middle piece of this game is Not It.

 

Mostly I have problems with Ned viz. the fact that he doesn't need to exist and that everything his does is contrived to make the game be a game. He distracts from the core of the story (the relationship between Henry and Delilah) with his incredibly convoluted plans to drive a wedge between H and D (why?) by faking a government conspiracy that's following the conversations of two random emotional wrecks (like, what?) so as to keep people away from the body of his son (which is 100% safe behind a locked door to which he has the only keys). His activities build tension but the payoff for it is nonexistent, and it sucks air and momentum from the emotional beats you're actually here for. I understand that the game needs a source of conflict between H and D, and it's through that that their relationship develops and ultimately fails as both of their statuses as actual human trainwrecks is revealed, but misleading the player into thinking the game is a different game than it is feels cheap.

 

That said I love the relationship between H and D, and especially (as a citizen of the internet since a very young and hormonal age) the parallels with online crushes/relationships, which follow many of the same beats. Growing up in the MSN era of the internet and not being the most social teenager, I had my share of online crushes, and the pattern - intense attachment formed from mutual loneliness and the kind of chemistry you can only muster by being able to project your Best Self from a position of complete emotional safety - is 100% spot on here, even down to the slowly-emerging cracks in the facade. Delilah begins the game as this charismatic, endlessly entertaining presence - like Ned says, she's a record you don't gotta flip - and she's always at your disposal, which is a key part of the lonely mutual crush. Like an internet crush, though, the flaws dawn eventually, and it becomes clear that a) you're two human beings with problems that neither of you is equipped to deal with and B) the relationship you had is as ephemeral as the method of communication you're using. It was mostly well done, but the Ned fuckery puts it on the backburner for about an hour with no real payoff. It stops being the focus for roughly 1/3 of the game, which is baffling to me.

 

The game does a really great job at representing that through gameplay, and (as someone who hikes) I really enjoyed the act of actually playing the game. Yeah, sure, you're just walking. But that's what hiking is - walking, and beauty, and solitude, and I think CS absolutely nailed it. The game is beautiful in the way that nature can be, and that's pretty high praise. Virtual hiking and the excitement of a beginning relationship fading into bittersweetness was absolutely the experience I'm taking away from this. It's just such a shame that a 3-hour game wastes so much time on a cheap bit of far-fetched misdirection.

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I originally sent this in to reader mail at Idle weekend but Danielle and Rob didn't read it on air.  Not a surprise given how much eMail they probably get.  But I am curious what people think about it so I'm posting it here. 


 


I generally avoid first person perspective games because they make me motion sick. Despite this, Firewatch has been on my wishlist since the game was announced. I appreciate a well told story and the folks at Campo Santo that I'm familiar with (Sean, Jake and Chris) always have interesting perspectives on games. So I was excited to see what they produced. Firewatch was a very enjoyable experience for me, even though it did result in a nasty bout of nausea.


 


Wanting to show my support for the product, I logged onto Steam, gave Firewatch a thumbs up and wrote a review.


 


Unfortunately, the next time I checked my Steam recommendations que, it was populated almost entirely with first person games. The months I'd spent training the Steam discoverability robot appears to be completely undone by 1 positive review.


 


Do you think the increasing popularity of algorithmically driven marketing can discourage people from rating or reviewing products that might be outside their wheelhouse for fear of skewing the recommendations they get?


 


Also, are there any game mechanics that you have a physical reaction to so strong that you can't enjoy the game?  First person seems to be the engine of choice among indies these days and I miss out on some tonally interesting stuff because they make me physically ill.


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I think the Ned situation is not as extraneous as some have made it out to be. Thematically it's of a piece with what is going on with H&D; broadly speaking all three are in a situation of "did some some bad shit/had some bad shit happen->go hide in the woods to avoid dealing with it" so H&D finding out about Ned is basically reinforcing the idea that that stuff is going to catch up with you eventually. In the metaphorical sense, of course, that's because there's no escaping the inside of your own head rather than a third party somehow stumbling across your seekrits, but still I think it sort of holds up in a gestalt thematic sense.

 

I mean part of what is unhelpful about running away to the woods is that you're still the same person that made bad choices and (possibly) by yourself you're unable to come to the realizations necessary to make better ones in the future, but (again, possibly) seeing a similar situation played out externally might be the catalyst to some sort of change?

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I originally sent this in to reader mail at Idle weekend but Danielle and Rob didn't read it on air.  Not a surprise given how much eMail they probably get.  But I am curious what people think about it so I'm posting it here. 

 

I generally avoid first person perspective games because they make me motion sick. Despite this, Firewatch has been on my wishlist since the game was announced. I appreciate a well told story and the folks at Campo Santo that I'm familiar with (Sean, Jake and Chris) always have interesting perspectives on games. So I was excited to see what they produced. Firewatch was a very enjoyable experience for me, even though it did result in a nasty bout of nausea.

 

Wanting to show my support for the product, I logged onto Steam, gave Firewatch a thumbs up and wrote a review.

 

Unfortunately, the next time I checked my Steam recommendations que, it was populated almost entirely with first person games. The months I'd spent training the Steam discoverability robot appears to be completely undone by 1 positive review.

 

Do you think the increasing popularity of algorithmically driven marketing can discourage people from rating or reviewing products that might be outside their wheelhouse for fear of skewing the recommendations they get?

 

Also, are there any game mechanics that you have a physical reaction to so strong that you can't enjoy the game?  First person seems to be the engine of choice among indies these days and I miss out on some tonally interesting stuff because they make me physically ill.

 

You've probably already tried this but have have you switched mouse acceleration in windows off yet? Or tried out different Field of View settings in games where that's supported?

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Digging this thread up way afterwards because I wanted my wife to play first so I didn't spoil anything for her. I was pretty thorough and got almost all of the main-story related conversations and discoveries, which paint a mostly clear picture of events, minus the one alarmed backpack that everyone's kinda curious about. Unfortunately, when I found the raccoon in the stove D was drunk and not talking to me, so I missed that story about the burned out watch station. Anyone know of a place I can call it up on Youtube?

 

Anyway, i was very happy with the ending, really liked how it all ended up being (mostly) normal instead of veering into X-Files territory. I would say I liked it more than Gone Home, as I generally like to be handed characters to play as by game designers, rather than the blank slate that others on the thread seem to enjoy.

 

Edit: Nevermind, found it. 

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I loved this game. 

 
I was, however, surprised by the introduction of game mechanics at the beginning of the game in ways that are not consistent with the rest of the experience.

For example, in the opening section of the game, when the game is switching back and forth between the story of your marriage and the actual first-person experience of traveling to the park, you pick up your backpack using a prompt . . . and then never repeat that action again in the game. Instead, you always pick up the backpack automatically when you choose to open the door of your tower. I suppose the intention was to introduce the notion that you can interact with objects. But why use an object that you see for the rest of the game but never interact with again? That produced a strange dissonance for me. 

Likewise, you are prompted to put the backpack into the back of the truck, but when you get out of the truck, you don't have to use prompts to get it out - in fact the backpack is gone. This was so strange that it made me wonder if Campo Santo was deliberately telling the player that control will sometimes be taken away? 
 
I'd love to hear your thoughts, Thumbs. 

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I'd love to hear your thoughts, Thumbs. 

 

These are similar to jump cuts and are speaking film language pretty well, so I bought them.  They also prepared me for the abrupt beginnings and endings of the "Days" for the remainder of the game.

 

But that's a good point that it's kinda weird to use the otherwise non-interactive backpack as the introduction to interaction.

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You can pick up the backpack on your own before leaving for the day. I'd guess they just wanted to avoid a "get your backpack, dummy" prompt when you try to leave, so Henry will just pick it up independently on your way out. Makes things a bit more seamless.

 

I want to mention the best Firewatch secret, which is that the PS4 theme is fucking slick. It looks really good (of course), changes with the time of day, and has top tier Remo guitar strumming. Right up there with Corn Love Forever imo.

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Finally finished it. Lovely game. 

 

Loved the kind of down ending. That's life. No clean resolutions. Half baked decisions lead to transient relationships, always wondering what the other person thought. With the comparison to Gone Home I appreciated the "they're not fine, but they'll be ok" ending. 

 

First the complaint: Man, I wish any game with exploration options that would force me into level exit would like put a Y/N over that choice. It also makes me feel weird when I've sussed out that exit button by how strenuously I avoid the most important thing. Towards the end I stumbled into the Elk, and Henry says some like "they were tracking animals like they said." I definitely caught a "they said" and thought I got off the crit path so reloaded and then later I railroaded myself into missing that part. Also, I think because it was during the evac stage I picked up the tape, radio'd D, but I didn't get an option to play it.

 

I see Ned described with "PTSD" which I don't think is accurate, and sort of like putting it in a box in a way that does everyone a disservice. I think there could be a few things going on. First, people become really devoted to "doing the thing they're doing" and not rocking their own shaky boat. Making bad decision to keep themselves on whatever path they have accepted as theirs. It's why Deliah messes up so much, lying to avoid scrutiny, which could expose her drinking etc. I also think about Christopher Knight, who lived in the Maine woods for 27 years stealing shitty paperbacks and food from campers. I assume Ned's line about running out of books as a reference to that?

 

Second, while I think the game avoids too much meta-game stuff, I see some meta-ness in "Ned's Conspiracy", who is "doing things because he can do them." Some of his actions practically read like another adventure game player checking the interactions. Take everything. Smash the glass. Steal their notes, observe their thoughts, rewire their lives. 

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I read this whole thread and everybody is ignoring the elephant in the room:

Why give the player a choice in responses if all responses lead to the same ending?

Seriously, why are response choices given in this game if they lead to the identical outcome.

Literally all that time spent racking your brain as to which response you should give, is meaningless in Firewatch, as they all lead to -exactly- the same ending.

A game that gives choices in response alludes to showing you where YOUR specific voyage of self discovery will lead. Firewatch doesn't do this, whether through budget considerations or otherwise, it feels like a cheat.

For me it was a meaningless waste of time because of this :(

I couldn't delete it off my HD fast enough after completing it. I can't imagine anyone playing it more than once. Searching for a deeper meaning I believe stems from the time and emotional investment spent with the game rather than any equally deep intrinsic quality.

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I don't think anyone talked about that because it's what we expected?

 

Speaking for myself at least, the Thumbs have talked before about not being as concerned with branching paths in narrative because they're more interested in conversation choices shaping how you respond to things rather than how the game responds to you. There's obviously ways the game changes with little details and conversations but really it's more about building up who Henry is than it is about deciding what happens to him.

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Firewatch isn't about the ending, it's about the path you took to get there.  If you look back at this thread, you'll see that people see Henry and Delilah differently because of the interactions they had along the way.  This colors their perception of the ending and what meaning they derive from it.  I played the game a couple of times in different ways.  In my first playthrough my Henry was devoted to Julia.  In another he was resentful of his situation.  Even though both encountered the same events, they were different people in my mind and had different stories.  That is meaningful to me.

 

In short, it's the journey not the destination.

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