Firewatch Review – We Be Watching Fires

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to pack your bags and leave this technology filled world to live somewhere basic? I’d like to go camping but in all honesty, I do not think I could last more than a couple of days without a 4G connection. Firewatch sees the main protagonist do exactly this in order to watch over the woods for several months.

The Plot and Storyline

Out in the wilderness with only a walkie-talkie in your hand and a rucksack on your back, Firewatch follows the journey of Henry as he becomes a park ranger over the summer. This game has been beautifully crafted by developers Campo Santo. Henry, who after a hectic life decides to work as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness, follows the guidance of his only companion, Delilah.

Dealing with the new challenges and adventures that lie ahead, your only point of contact miles away in the next nearest lookout post. Will the choices you make over your walkie-talkie destroy or let your relationship flourish? The overall premise of the game is unique and nothing like you’ve experienced before. An adventure with a dash of decision making with a dollop of human emotion from across the scale.

Gameplay and Game Mechanics

The game plays out across several months during the Wyoming summer. Henry, alongside Delilah, is tasked with watching the horizon for signs of fire. These summer months are split – you don’t play from day one to day x. The game jumps to various dates, crafting a powerful story for those days skipped.

Hey There Delilah

The first and second days are filled with moments for Henry and Delilah to get to know one another, days in between are used to chase down drunken teens causing havoc and a mysterious stalker. Despite never encountering another human face-to-face, Campo Santo has done a fantastic job of crafting a story filled to the brim with tension and unease, with a little light-heartedness thrown in for good measure.

As you wander around the park you can pick-up items, observe your surroundings and in later stages take photographs. All in all, Firewatch is something of a glorified “walking simulator” but a good one.

Audio and Visual

The voice acting is captivating and simply put the story wouldn’t have been half as powerful if not for the talents of Rich Sommer and Cissy Jones. The connection between the pair is what makes Firewatch so interesting – any less and the game would have turned out much like many other of walking simulators before.

The intense and radiant colours which are present throughout the game are truly mesmerising. The art style is both delightful and charming – with scenes ranging from morning to dusk capturing what it would be like out in the wilderness.

Issues and Problems

The one single issue which I came across during my time in the wilderness was surrounding character model clipping. Several times I managed to get the camera stuck inside my own body by looking down at awkward angles. The majority of the time I could just walk this off but on a handful of occasions, I managed to get the camera stuck whilst opening a ranger cache. In this instance I had to restart the game – and the progress I made.

Aside from this there really are no complaints.

Firewatch is certainly a game which you should experience sooner rather than later. A tale of human interaction, emotion and peril all wrapped into a small indie bundle of pure gaming delight.
Things I Liked
The artistic art style is marvellous and the vibrant colours delightful
Slow paced story to begin with but the ending is worth the wait
On the short side but in this instance it feels just right
Things I Didn't Like
Some issues with camera moving to places it should (i.e. inside ones own body)
Could be seen by some as a "walking simulator"

What are your thoughts?

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