Firewatch Review

 
  • Author
  • February 09,2016
 

Firewatch is a game about life, adventure and mystery. The game begins simply enough by asking you to make a few choices and establishes Henry’s (played by you) backstory and what brought you to Yellowstone National Park. It feels very much like a “Choose your own Adventure” book and while the choices inevitably lead to the same destination you can’t can’t help but think “Maybe I should have done that differently”.

Firewatch is a beautifully designed game and has an airbrushed quality that makes the scenery glow with orange and green as you watch the sunrise and sunset through the trees and greenery or from high up in your watchtower only interrupted by the only other voice you know, Delilah, which often adds to the joy as she often adds a certain comfort because you aren’t experiencing this alone.

firewatch
Everything in Firewatch looks great during the sunset. Source: Campo Santo

Being alone isn’t normally an issue when you can talk, via your walkie talkie, to Delilah. She gives you someone to connect to in this huge empty forest and generally joke around with. She often calms you when things start to get a little more complicated and generally gives you a sense of safety. When she isn’t there, however, you realise how dark and lonely your watch can be, especially as the sun goes down and the fear of the dark, that hasn’t affected you since you were a child, stirs in you once again.

The first day or two go reasonably well, you deal with a few mundane tasks, teenagers letting off fireworks and the like, so you have to go and confront them. In doing so you come up to one of the choices that can affect how the rest of the game may go. Once you find said teenagers you have to try and get them to stop letting off fireworks (including confiscating them) but you can decide to throw their stereo in the lake which has some ramifications later in the story and sets off a compelling mystery.

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Two Forks Tower is your safe place. Source: Campo Santo

This is when the game is at its most engaging. Henry finds himself getting mixed up in a bizarre conspiracy that tends to take a number of twists and turns. Both Henry and Delilah start to find themselves mixed up in something they can’t quite explain and Delilah has you try and investigate which normally provides more questions than answers and as the game moves on you find yourself moving from “Walking Simulator” to “Running Simulator” because it's getting dark and who knows who or what is out there.

There is also a slight disparity in days and weeks that you actually do anything. It can skip out weeks at a time which makes sense since the story is driven by the events rather than the player. Often, days could end with you still wandering the park which can be jarring but also relieving because you know you are safe, for now.



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