Firewatch 5/5 (PC, Linux, PS4)
Firewatch, a debut showing from developer Campo Santo and publisher Panic, had me hooked right from the start. It’s innovative storytelling and amazing visuals had me sitting through the entire play through enthralled.
Firewatch takes place in the Wyoming wilderness in 1989. It follows the Story of volunteer fire lookout, Henry, after the Yellowstone fires of 1988. The game plays out in the Shoshone National Forest, and takes us on a full throttle emotional mystery before the final credits roll.
Henry’s story is a sorted one. The game begins by taking the player through 1975 – 1988 with a text style flash back of Henry meeting the love of his life. The topics of pets, children, and work during this section parallel most every adult relationship to this day. The player does get a few options that will affect the outcome of this section. Not to spoil the game for anyone, things don’t work out best for Henry. The section ends with his first day as a national forest fire watch ranger.
Once you finally start your job, the majority of the game’s dialogue is played out over frequent radio conversations with Delilah, your reporting supervisor and main contact. Almost every object in the game has an option to trigger a short dialogue with Delilah. The way you interact and reply to her sets up the ongoing relationship you build. I personally played the humor roll, and she never missed a beat when exchanging playful banter.
As the game plays out we soon realize being a typical fire lookout isn’t going to be in the cards for us this summer. A mystery of missing persons, past park employees, and government projects starts to unfold. The story really is one of the best I’ve personally played so far this year. And I know, its barely February, but this game will most likely be in the top of the year for me. It has been a long time since a game has been able to capture my interest and make me ask “What can happen next?”
The sound design in the game was top notch. I feel that they really captured what it would feel like to be a lone person in the open wilderness. The voice acting was also very well done. Henry was voiced by Rich Sommer (MadMen) and Delilah was voiced by Cissy Jones (Life is Strange). They played so well off each other that you really started to feel a part of their building relationship.
Having only played through once I find myself wanting to play again with a different attitude and style to see what other outcomes I can change. As with most games in this genre, I’d be very heartbroken to find that some of what I thought were major choices didn’t really matter for the end result.
Firewatch is a great game that I think all gamers should play through at least once. With the story clocking in at just under 5 hours, I say the $19.99 price tag is well worth your time and money. Just prepare to be pulled through an emotional roller coaster within the first ten minutes.
Firewatch 5 out of 5
+Henry and Delilah