Anticipating Firewatch

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So I am now done with The Witness after solving almost 620 puzzles over nearly 50 hours. To quote my review on Steam:

The Witness is likely to be my favourite game of 2016. I love that there is no compromise and hand-holding in the sense that we most often see in modern games. Here you gain knowledge on how to solve the line/maze-puzzles by learning and by trial-and-error. There will be many hurdles on the way for the average player but the best moments in The Witness are found along the road rather than at the ending (which can still be great, given the right conditions, especially for those that have been observant to the buzz around the game during the weeks before launch). I have had goosebumps several times and literally stopped and laughed and applauded towards the screen when figuring out something I had been stuck with for a while. The game design is in this regard second to none. You will feel like a genius.

This could probably not have been accomplished by a too large development team, risking that the overall vision would start to diverge. So when stuck, do what you can to avoid spoiling the game by looking up solutions. Go somewhere else on the island and you may find a sequence of easier puzzles that also may lead to revelations for how to solve the ones you left behind. I admit to have consulted a walk-through myself, but after I had first reached the ending and solved almost 500 puzzles. You may solve far less puzzles and will still be able to reach the ending. I am still playing, approaching 600 solved puzzles, due to that there are more of those great moments to be found.

The colourful graphics looks pretty as well, running at a smooth 60fps. Then there are all these weird things scattered around the island that together with great sound design (no background music) adds a certain ambience to the experience.

In conclusion, The Witness is a rare gem, utilizing the environmental design and other video game-unique features to present you with something truly amazing. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has passion for video games and who can live with it not always being a cake-walk. In truth we will probably not see a puzzle game as good as this one for many years to come.

So yeah, there you have it. Maybe I have already completed my favourite game of 2016 as The Witness resonated with me on a level few other games have done.

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The next candidate will be Firewatch (check out that gorgeous official website). A game that I at the end of 2015 thought would be my GOTY2016, the full list reads:

  1. Firewatch
  2. The Legend of Zelda Wii U
  3. Tacoma
  4. Superhot
  5. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  6. Trackmania Turbo
  7. The Witness
  8. Adrift
  9. Xcom 2
  10. Mass Effect: Andromeda

We’ll see how accurate that was, but it is almost surely to be revised at the end of the year. Back to Firewatch, this is going to be a short (5-6 hrs) adventure in the Wyoming wilderness whose graphical style is not too far from The Witness with it’s warm colouring. Voice acting also sounds superb, contributing to what I hope will be a nice exploration-focused and somewhat tense story. Pre-ordered the game minutes after it became available so pre-loading can not start soon enough. To add to the hype I ordered three different prints designed by Olly Moss from the Campo Santo Store.

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Weekend was mostly spent celebrating the Lunar New Year with my wife and friends. Took the opportunity to buy some more games on the Steam sale, e.g. Cave Story+, Ori and the Blind Forest, Helldivers, Pony Island and the Cities Skylines expansion After Dark. In terms of gaming I otherwise only spent a few hours more in Yakuza 5, just progressing past part 1, chapter 1. As it’s predecessors we are talking about a massive game filled to the brim with mini-games, sub-stories and tonnes of restaurants to try out. Best moments so far was helping a youth with his college entrance pre-exams, driving taxi, going fishing and playing Taiko Drum Master in the arcade. A few examples on what to do in only one out of five explorable areas in Yakuza 5! It does bug me that the game is not 1080p60 though as it would clearly benefit of a higher level of detail and a stable framerate.

Will be back with impressions after finishing Firewatch. Enjoy your coming gaming week!

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2 comments

  1. […] looking shooter where time only moves when the player character moves. As with Firewatch and The Witness a lot of the discussion has revolved around the pricing that some feel is too high. Personally, I […]

  2. […] a solid fun game, perhaps a little bit fiddly and too much of a challenge for me after a while. The Witness is almost guaranteed to end up claiming the no.1 spot on my 2016 list. I can’t see any upcoming game having me so engaged for such a long time, but there is always […]

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