Firewatch is what I call a walking simulator, and while that may not make the game sound that exciting, keep reading. Firewatch is set in Wyoming in 1989, and you are a man on your own in the wilderness, set with the task of watching for fires. The game begins with some flashbacks and life decisions, mainly in text, but don’t worry, this just sets up the background for the main character, and you feel connected to them before even setting foot in the main game.
Your first job in Firewatch is to make it to your tower, which is your base of operations for the game, and where you will find your trusty ‘weapon’ for the game, your radio. Yes, that is right, there is no fighting hordes of zombies, evil overlords, or demonized bunnies in this game. Your main weapon is your voice (although, you will carry other items, including an axe…but, still no zombies).
When you pick up the radio, you get to listen to my favorite aspect of the game, the voice acting. If you were a fan of Mad Men, when your character first speaks you will instantly recognize the voice behind Henry, the protagonist. The other main character in the game, Delilah, your sidekick who is in another tower, can only speak to you over the radio. This dynamic of not being able to see your main contact in the game is nothing new, but the back and forth communication between the two, to which you can usually choose your reply is amazing. The voice acting is so well done that it feels like a fluid conversation between two people, which is rare in a video game. The writing is also dynamic, and changes based on your choices and what you say in the game, but you probably won’t notice unless you play through the game more than once.
The landscape and art style of Firewatch are nothing to shield your eyes from either. In fact, the sun is almost a character in the game. You can almost feel the heat of the sun, and when it isn’t there you feel even more isolated. The mountains, the trees, the rivers and grass, all come together to put you in the right state of mind to enjoy this game. There are no vehicles in this game, so you will be getting your 10,000 steps in, all the while surrounded by this amazing scenery.
I could go on and on about various little things I love about this game, from the ambience, to the music, controls, etc, but the main thing a lot of people play games for is the story. Luckily, the story in Firewatch is great throughout. The game plays out in Days, and on Day 1 Delilah spots some fireworks, and it is your job to put a stop to them, with entertaining results. As you progress in the game, you go on various quests, full of intrigue and conspiracy, all while working through the summer in the wilderness of Wyoming. Even though the game doesn’t have shooting or crazy explosions left and right, I found the game to be intense, and couldn’t put it down.
Firewatch is amazing, but as with all games, it isn’t perfect. The game stutters a bit on loading, which happens quite often, but it doesn’t distract too much from the game. While this is a minor complaint, it would have been nice if this could be avoided. It also has a few graphical glitches and texture pop in. The game also ramps up with its story, but fails to fully capitalize the end of the story with the same excitement as the build up, and I felt the game ended abruptly, and too soon. This could be because I wanted to continue the adventure and didn’t want it to end, but I felt like I needed something more.
The achievements in the game are mostly straight forward, with the welcome addition of a few side quests. I wouldn’t use a guide for this game. Enjoy it, and most of the achievements will unlock. The rest you can clean up on the second playthrough when you play with commentary, or use the open world option that is unlocked after you complete the game. Overall, this is an easy game, with easy achievements. Did I say this game was amazing?
Firewatch is one of the best games of 2016. Although it has been out a few months on other platforms, the Xbox One edition of the game has the new commentary content, as well as an open world when you beat the game (which was patched into the other versions). The commentary was a nice addition to the game, and allows you to go through the game a second time with commentary to get some background on the game. Of course it is recommended to not play with commentary the first time through so you can enjoy the great conversations between the main characters and not be distracted.
This is a beautiful game that should not be missed. The voice acting is superb, and the visuals match it. The story is linear, but this game is about the journey. I highly recommend this game to all, but be aware this is an adult game, with adult themes. The price of $19.99 may seem steep compared to other indie titles, but this game shines above most of the other titles out there, even some with a cost of $60.
Developed by: Campo Santo
Published by: Campo Santo
Xbox Marketplace: https://www.microsoft.com/store/p/firewatch/bqqkg9h2stc0
Steam Store: http://store.steampowered.com/app/383870/