I went into Firewood with little to no idea of what it was about. After having played the game, I would recommend this method to those who are interested. Firewood is a dark, mysterious adventure that is best experienced with new eyes.
You begin as a man visiting his wife’s grave in a cemetery. From that point, the game flashes forward between the present (the player as an old man) and past (the player as a young man). You know little about the man or the passing of his wife, and in true horror fashion, many of the details are strewn about the environment. That said, Firewood is more of a psychological mystery than it is horror.
In each sequence, no matter the time period, the player must navigate left or right and pick up key items in order to progress. The walking can get repetitive, but I was so drawn to looking for clues and searching rooms that it did not bother me. The controls are great and do not reinvent the wheel, which is all one can ask for.
One of the standout elements of Firewood is the visual style. The art is pixelated and very retro, like the adventure games which inspired it. There are also overlays of rain and film grain which further give the game a distinct look and feel. The main character looks grizzled as an old man, and fittingly youthful during flashback sequences. I would also like to applaud the art for the game’s more macabre characters, including children with animal heads and one I will not name because it would give too much away.
The music is just right, as it provides more ambiance than anything. If Firewood were a bigger game, it may feel as though the music is lacking; however, given the scope and tone, it is enough to keep you engaged and not draw attention away from the game itself. I may buy the soundtrack separately to add to my ever-growing playlist of writing music.
In terms of replay value, after the 80-120 minutes it takes you to complete the game there is little incentive to go back unless you want to revisit certain scenes or elements. Achievements are unlocked as you progress and not through certain actions, so there exists little incentive there as well. The brevity suits Firewood, though, because if it were much longer the walking and intrigue, without the addition of much else, would begin to sour my opinion.
The lack of replay value is balanced out by the small asking price of $4.99, though the short span may not be enough if you are looking for a longer experience or one with more overall depth. As with most games, it is a matter of knowing what you’re getting into and what knowing your interests.
Since the game’s release in August, the developer has added what appears to be only one update, but it came out the same day as the release so they are intent on fixing things as quickly as possible.
As a whole, the game is a great experience to keep you entertained for an hour or two. It is full of mystery and suspense and is perfect as we approach Halloween.
Firewood is available on Steam.