Firewatch, developed by Campo Santo is a game that will pull you in immediately with its always stunning art style and presentation, but it’s the characters and the mysterious story that Firewatch presents to you the player that will have you sitting down to enjoy its short but engrossing little tale.
In Firewatch you play as Henry, a man who after going through an unimaginably tough time in his life decides he needs a change of… well everything really. Henry takes a job as a volunteer Fire lookout in Yellowstone. It is here that you meet Delilah. I say meet but only thorough communication over the radio do you two ever interact. Things start off normal but as time goes by your everyday duties are impeded by some weird goings on. Both you and Delilah will then be taken on a dangerous and mysterious journey to uncover just exactly what is going on.
So first and foremost it needs to be pointed out that Firewatch is what is now referred to as a walking simulator type game (think Gone Home etc). So if those types of games aren’t your thing then I highly doubt Firewatch will be the one to change that, but feel free to still read the rest of my review, and if not then please feel free to check out the rest of my blog. Anyway back to proceedings.
Undoubtedly the most stand out element in Firewatch (for me) was the relationship that builds over the game between Henry and Delilah. Now as I already said, all of your interactions with Delilah happen over radio. She talks and you respond, it is somewhat similar to the Telltale model, where you have a select amount of time to answer from a set of 2 to 3 responses. Only the decisions in dialogue choices didn’t seem to have the same level of depth as a Telltale one might have.
I was fully engrossed in every moment in which these two characters were talking. There were even times where I would notice that more than the usual amount of time would have passed and I hadn’t heard from Delilah or been given a prompt to talk to her. I quickly became like an addict seeking out his vice – I just wanted more of the funny or the emotionally involving dialogue (which I must add is so well written and delivered).
That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the beautiful outdoor setting. There were quite a few times (nearer the beginning) in the game where I could just take a minute to appreciate and enjoy the incredible vistas, and I even had a wee disposable camera that I could snap some artsy looking photos (it’s an Instagramers wet dream). A lot of the time beautiful games will soon ware off but Firewatch stays around for just the right amount of time and reinvents its look once or twice, that this isn’t the case for this game.
Along with great characters and many beautiful things to look at, Firewatch also has an interesting little story at its core. It’s a story that blends perfectly with the continuous tone of the game. Both together meant I was always kept on my toes, constantly wondering what might be around the next corner but also a little worried to look. Unfortunately the story did dip in intrigue in the 3rd act of the game and I was left thinking, “Huh is that it?” But ultimately it still didn’t take away from the rest of the game, which was still so emotionally pulling.
But Firewatch isn’t without fault, it big one being that on the technical side the game does not run well. I had constant an intrusive frame rate issues throughout my time playing it and I even at one point had to close the game down (for context I was playing on PS4 so I am unsure if this is a problem for other platforms) and then reboot – it was frustrating because it hampered the flow for that particular segment of the game. It’s really annoying because if the game didn’t have these glaring technical issues (that thankfully don’t ruin the visual joy that the game is) then I would personally have nothing to fault it on.
I really enjoyed my time with Firewatch, it pulled me into a story and a world that I very quickly fell in live with. I’m now left pondering some of the questions that it left me with and I’m also now wondering what the ultimate fate of its main characters is. This is a game that will stay with me for some time after.
Firewatch is a game that I would definitely recommend. Fans of these types of games will I think be really happy with what Campo Santo have delivered.
So what did you think of Firewatch or this review? Let me know in the comments down below. If you’re interested in keeping up to date on my other reviews then feel free to follow me on Twitter –@GavinsTurtle. I hope the rest of your week is good and filled with some fun gaming time.