7. Dear Esther
Dear Esther is a modern walking simulator in the truest sense of the word. It is driven almost exclusively by its introspective story and lonely island atmosphere (and, yes, there’s plenty of walking). Like Firewatch, the game is about a man’s poignant musings on his relationship with his wife, Esther. Themes of love and loss are again the emotional centerfolds here. However, Dear Esther does carry a far more somber tone.
Dear Esther has been criticized for its virtual lack of puzzles or tasks. At times it feels more like an interactive tour than an actual game. Some have even accused it of being excessively cryptic and mildly pretentious. Regardless, players looking for more games like Firewatch will find Dear Esther’s reinventive depictions of human spousal relationships to be immensely appealing. There’s also a deep sense of mystery as the intentionally ambiguous story unfurls, revealing abstract truths that linger long after the credits roll.
Fun Fact: There’s actually a pretty funny parody of Dear Esther called Dear Esteban. If you’ve finished Dear Esther, watch it!
To be clear, Miasmata is a crafting survival / adventure game with ‘walking simulator’ elements thrown in (i.e. lots of walking, focus on rich world setting, etc.). So, it’s not a walking simulator in the strictest sense of the term. However, Chris Remo – a member of Firewatch’s development team – has directly cited Miasmata as one of the chief inspirations of Firewatch’s densely forested environments and overall world design.
Firewatch shares other similarities with Miasmata. For starters, the protagonists of both games rely heavily on map / campus navigations in their isolative explorations. Outposts, notes, and clues also await discovery. Feelings of impending danger equally permeate both games. However, in Miasmata, this sense of foreboding dread is just as much physiological as it is psychological, particularly when the disease you are afflicted with takes hold. The story in Miasmata takes a more backseat role compared to Firewatch, though this does not detract from its overall immersion. In short, players looking for more games like Firewatch owe it to themselves to give this source of inspiration a try.
Fun Fact: There are actually plenty of abstract looking animal and ‘demonic’ statues to be found in Miasmata’s forest. Some serve as landmarks, others are just included as fun Easter eggs!
9. The Stanley Parable
At its heart, Firewatch is a story about escapism. So too is The Stanley Parable, albeit told in a far more humorous 4th wall breaking style. You play as Stanley, a cog-in-the-machine man looking to break free from the monotonous drone of his boring life. Things take a turn for the wonderfully weird when a mysterious narrator… starts narrating Stanley’s life (i.e. reminiscent of the movie Stranger Than Fiction). Interactions between silent Stanley and the vociferous Narrator goes in all sorts of unpredictable – and often hilarious – directions.
The Stanley Parable is a walking simulator game through and through. However, unlike other games like Firewatch, the focus is less about exploration and more towards a satirical commentary on free-will and determinism. The graphics are a bit rough but do not detract at all from the effectiveness of the unique premise. Multiple playthroughs are a must to achieve the various endings. Some endings actually bleed into the game’s restarts, leading to even more possible outcomes. The game is also distinctly existential, inviting you to mull over the mundanity of your (supposedly) free existence.
Despite thematic differences, fans of Firewatch will undoubtedly find themselves drawn to The Stanley Parable for its high level of immersion, fantastic voice-acting, and the ponderous questions that remain long after the end.
Fun Fact: This game is an Easter egg galore! Our favorite involves keying in the word ‘facepunch’ at any point in the game. All textures in the game will suddenly switch into a drawing of a red smiley face. No coincidence since Facepunch is the website where the developers first announced the game.
Also check out The Beginner’s Guide and Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and the Terribly Cursed Emerald, both highly recommended by Firewatch fans.
10. Drizzlepath: Genie
Your goal in Drizzlepath is to reach the top of the Mountain of Fire as you explore a lore-filled world of sprawling hillside peaks and valleys. Like Firewatch, rich environmental immersion is key to this game. It’s powered by CryEngine 3 which helps to bring to life surrounding forests, scattered wildlife, and weather effects with great technical prowess. In short, Dirzzlepath looks stunning!
However, unlike Firewatch, the game does suffer from an inconsistent quality in voice-work. The narrator of the story sounds like she’s reading from a script rather than actually acting out her lines. Drizzlepath is also intentionally far less interactive than Firewatch, focusing more on the walking aspects of, well, the ‘walking simulator’ subgenre. Differences notwithstanding, fans who especially loved Firewatch’s far-flung and nature-esque world will find much to like in Drizzlepath’s impressive scenic route. Additionally, the game’s soundtrack is very well-made, gracefully adding to the overall level of immersion.
Fun Fact: More a forewarning than a fun fact. Do not approach this game expecting narrative twists and epic revelations. Drizzlepath is all about relaxation, evoking a kind of panoramic calmness similar to the stiller ‘in between’ moments of Firewatch. In such respects, Drizzlepath delivers the goods with aplomb!
Also check out Bottle, developed by the same one-man team.
Honorable Mentions (Not Necessarily Considered ‘Walking Simulators’):
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Technically, this critically acclaimed darling is a 3rd person adventure game with plenty of puzzles. So, no, it’s not a straight-up walking simulator (although there’s certainly plenty of walking involved). Still, this title more than deserves an honorable mention on the list of games like Firewatch. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons completely nails it when it comes to weaving an emotionally nuanced storyline between two main characters (perhaps even more so than in Firewatch). Like Firewatch, Brothers’ world overflows with lush trees, gentle sunshine hues, and other soothing elements of nature. The dialogue is spoken in a fictional language, leading to a heavier reliance on subtle gestures and emotional cues (akin to the ‘read between the lines’ silences of Firewatch). Interestingly, Brothers ranks as one of the most mentioned titles among Reddit users looking for more games like Firewatch.
Life Is Strange
Again, like Brothers, Life is Strange is no walking simulator. But this adventure game does check all the right boxes for those looking for more games like Firewatch. An increasingly intimate relationship between two characters? Check. Lots of emotional content dealing with themes of love and loss? Check. Multiple conversation responses? Check! Hints at a sinister plot? You bet! Style-wise, Life is Strange also showcases a calming blend of bright and pastel colors which bring the seaside town of Arcadia Bay to life. Oh, and of course, the main protagonist Max is able to rewind time through sheer power of will – the perfect mechanic for plenty of narrative twists and turns. A definite must-buy! Also check out 5 Things Fans Want To See In Life is Strange 2.
Like most games like Firewatch, Homesick is a walking simulator game all about exploring your environments in search of answers to an overarching mystery. Unlike Firewatch, the game does not have any voiced character interactions. Instead, the story is told primarily through notes and images, all of which become more coherent as you solve the game’s numerous puzzles. However, like Firewatch, Homesick does have a similar skill at hooking players with its “What the f*** is happening to me?” premise. Homesick also deals with similar themes of loss and isolation. There are also strong hints at something bigger and more sinister at work. The game also features an atmospheric soundtrack not too different from that of Firewatch.
Cradle is an often overlooked, albeit flawed, gem. Similar to Firewatch’s one-to-one characters, this game tells the story of a protagonist and his relationship with a mechanical girl. Convoluted puzzles and graphical inconsistencies are a slight misfortune. Yet, those able to ignore the game’s minor failings will be rewarded with a fascinating world to explore coupled with a deep story – elements that made Firewatch great. A maybe-try for those in need of more games like Firewatch!
Also Worth Checking Out:
Journey – A 3rd person, quieter, and more abstract counterpart to Firewatch. Same orange-and-red hues, gorgeous environments, and plenty of walking (and flying). No voice-acting and explicit story elements to speak of. Yet, the game does evoke a similar sense of expansive isolation found in Firewatch (except set in a vast desert). Play Journey right after Firewatch for the perfect emotional… journey.
The Guest – Receiving widespread critical acclaim, The Guest is a walking simulator / puzzler hybrid inviting players to explore its mystery-filled environment. The Guest does stray far away from Firewatch’s open forested world, opting instead to set its story in a lonesome hotel room that morphs in a wonderfully unexpected manner. However, The Guest, like Firewatch, is absolutely masterful in crafting an insidious sense of being watched by an unknown enemy, punctuated by nagging questions as to what the heck is really happening. One of the best games like Firewatch available!
Also worth listing here is Telltale’s The Walking Dead, developed by a few of the same folks who brought you Firewatch. Genre-wise, the two games are pretty different. This doesn’t stop many Reddit users from suggesting this point-and-click adventure to those searching for more games like Firewatch. The two do share many key aspects in common: a well-told story, a solid focus on human relationships, and multiple dialogue response mechanics. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already! And of course, be sure to also take a look at the yet-to-be-completed-but-still-awesome episodic Kentucky Route Zero! It’s another popular emotionally-driven game on many Firewatch fans’ radars.
Did I miss out on any more games like Firewatch? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section below and I’ll add them to this list!
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