“When I first finished Firewatch, I thought the game’s ending was so anticlimactic that I must have misunderstood it. After all, Firewatch is a product of Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin, the two lead writers on Telltale’s Walking Dead Season 1, which marked a seminal story telling event in modern video game history at its release in 2012. The first 4/5ths of Firewatch admirably reaches the same level of writing quality with a wonderfully melancholic story about a pair of loners coming together in the middle of nowhere while strange events plague their safety and sanity. And then the final fifth of the game arrives with such a lack of apparent fanfare and relevance that it makes me question the point of the preceding four hours of buildup.
What’s especially weird about the ending is that it’s not like your typical incoherent video game story mess.Firewatch does wrap itself up. The lackluster ending is not a product of rushing the plot, abandoning themes, or negating the story’s internal logic. Rather it seemed like Firewatch ended on precisely the controlled, thematically relevant note that Vanaman and Rodkin wanted it to, which makes it all the more disappointing that the ending just doesn’t work. Maybe with certain tweaks to the pacing or presentation the Firewatch narrative could have been wrapped up with a gut punching flourish designed to subvert player expectations, but instead it just feels empty and disappointing…”
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