Firewatch is a single-player story game that tells a engrossing tale about a man dealing with overwhelming grief. Without spoiling too much, he takes up a job to watch over a forest to spot fires and, with the help of his sarcastic and unprofessional boss, uncovers a disturbing turn of events that changes everything. The game hits you in the heart real quick and turns into a powerful narrative about pain, guilt, and sorrow. For such a small game, it was a wonderful experience and playing on Steam Deck was a fantastic way to see the story unfold.
Overall, performance on deck was mostly fluid. I went through the entire game using the optimized/recommended settings and didn’t feel much holding me back. At 40 FPS, and using Proton GE 7-19, I was able to play the entire game without any huge slowdowns. I would get framerate drops and some battery usage spikes when running quickly in the forest, but it would quickly bounce back. Firewatch has full controller support and does show Steam Deck icons in-game.
This also means that the official gamepad layout works extremely well for the game and I felt no awkwardness using the controls. The only gripe I have is trying to change the resolution in-game. Doing this with just the deck controller is aggravating and near impossible. The right trackpad is mouse cursor control by default, but there’s no keybind for a left mouse click, which is essential. I just binded the left click to pressing the right trackpad down and it made changing resolutions and navigating some menus easier.
I encountered a couple bugs in my playthrough, but they were more slight nuisances and nothing game-breaking. The biggest bug I found was one time starting up the game and it went to a black screen and stayed there. This was easily fixed just by putting the deck into sleep mode and waking it up right after.
Another little bug includes some minor framerate dips and audio crackling when coming out of sleep mode (which fixed themselves shortly after), but that was all I experienced in my playthrough. In my testing, I was also not able to ideally hit 60 FPS without battery being drained incredibly quick and quality being on the lowest setting. I also noticed, when I was testing the maximum battery build, that it didn’t seem like FSR or Half Rate Shading did anything to affect quality of the game. A little disappointing, but not the end of the world.
Overall, my experience with Firewatch was a positive one. Framerate drops were not very noticeable and any bugs were generally fixed after a couple seconds. Adding the binding for left mouse click to the right trackpad solved my biggest gripe of going through the settings menu for the game. With a verified rating from Valve, which I agree with, this is definitely a great game to add to your deck library.
Need some help understanding how we got to our score? Check out our Guide to Steam Deck HQ.