Personally I am a big fan of story driven games, not the ‘save the princess from the dragon’ kinda stories but more the ones that grip you. I like the games where you care a little bit more than you should and are passionate over the outcome of the game. When it came to ‘Firewatch’ on PC I definitely cared a little bit too much.
The last time I felt this way about a game was after completing ‘The Beginners Guide’ last year, however, with ‘Firewatch’ I was fully on-board within the first 30 seconds.
The game is set in 1989 where you play the role of Henry, a gentleman in his 40’s who has just started a new job as a fire lookout out in the Wyoming wilderness. The summer of ’89 was exceptionally dry which has made your role even more important. In the game you are armed with a handheld radio and you are in constant contact with your supervisor, a lady named Delilah.
As you are out in the wild, Delilah is your only contact and throughout the game your relationship deepens due to the lonely nature of the job. With a strong dialogue (which is amazingly written by the way) you find yourself getting to know her, and in her returning questions you have the chance to pick answers and learn more about yourself and also Henry.
As a fire lookout you are faced with several tasks such as approaching citizens who are firing off fireworks illegally (shown in the trailer). As mundane as these tasks appear to be, you quickly find yourself adopting the role and taking pride in it too. Whilst completing tasks set by Delilah you are faced with a story arch which hallows all the way to the end of the game.
I don’t want to talk any more about the story of the game as this is an experience that everyone should play without any prior knowledge. I will however say this, be honest and open with your answers, it will enhance the experience.
The controls of the game are acceptable. The overall responsiveness of the character is nothing to sing about, but as a vessel to lay out the story, it does the job fine. There are little charms about the game in terms of controls which I liked, such as you can only see your map if it is light enough. I also felt the same about the compass, using it with a map really added to the rugged feel of the game. There were however one or two moments when I found myself off the path and almost stuck in tree’s and bushes, but this rarely happened and didn’t ruin the experience in any way.
The music and soundtrack to the game were perfect. The ambient sounds of the wilderness combined with triggered eerie soundtracks really helped to create the feel and immersion of the game. Even days after completing the game I found myself swanning onto YouTube to sample the OST further. In a way, the soundtrack reminded me of Red Dead Redemption, obviously minus the scenic tones of José Gonzalez.
All in all, Firewatch is a really raw emotional game. It only lasted a little longer than 4 hours but was worth every penny and every second invested into it. I hope more games follow suit with this style of story telling and continue to make gamers think about their choices rather than simply blow up aliens in colourful deathmatches.