Villordsutch reviews Firewatch…
Firewatch was voted Number.4 in Flickering Myth’s most anticipated video games of 2016 back in January. I myself have been watching Campo Santo’s latest release with bated breath since the kindling was first laid out in-front of us and now finally it appears on our machines and I’m so hoping this blazes brightly.
If you’ve not kept you ear to the ground – when it comes to gaming releases – but you’ve let the what’s, why’s and where’s slip by you (shame on you) then we’ll quickly deliver a quick overview of Firewatch. It’s 1989 and you play the role of Henry (voiced by Rich Sommer), a fire warden lookout in Shoshone National Forest. After your patrol, in and around the Forest you return to discover your observation tower – and also your home – has been trashed. You begin to investigate causing your once placid, serene daily life to take a turn towards the strange and you find yourself involved in something much more darker than you ever expected. During your months in the forest you are in constant communication – via walkie-talkie – to Delilah (voiced by Cissy Jones) who also came to this job seeking a life to hide from her skeletons. Your conversation with Delilah and the answers you choose will influence any sort of trust & relationship that you build with her.
Launching into Firewatch and the first thing that you’re struck by is the truly fantastic visuals by Jane Ng and Olly Moss, who have created a world that looks stunning and have delivered it to our machines. You can wander around the park taking in landscapes whilst going about your Ranger business; a picture has been painted and it looks magnificent. Checking your map and compass you’ll find you’ve wandered off in the wrong direction, but what you’re looking at, in the beginning, won’t cause you that much distress as you radio in to Delilah your admiration of the park and you – the player – will agree with Henry too. Not to overly spoil the story, but midway through you’ll find a camera with just over twenty available pictures left to take, use them on the world around you; you’ll find out why later.
However, I’ve found with the graphics come a certain amount of pull and lag issues, and these seem to be around the autosave moments. The screen tugs either on the left or right, it all depends on how you move; while it’s only for a mere second or so, it’s distracting enough to frustrate you as you wander through the forest. With the world so impressive to witness and the story so engrossing, to then be rudely nudged back into the real world every few minutes a real pest. I’m hoping in a forthcoming patch this is resolved as I’m planning on returning into Firewatch and respond differently to Delilah. My intention is to be less like my real-world self in the responses I give to her.
Turning to the story of Firewatch, what begins as a complete heart-crushing opening for Henry and his wife then follows to his new job at Shoshone National Forest. The honesty, humour and life that’s brought to the conversation – with our two protagonists – brings such a sense of reality to the game, that when the tone rapidly becomes darker, you – the player – are caught off guard and feel shocked at what has just occurred in front of you. As the mystery wraps around you further into the game you can feel yourself falling further into the rabbit hole and you actually start to distrust Delilah.
Coming the resolution of the game however I felt that the story and mystery had wrapped up to quickly and certain answers had been closed without being further expanded. I personally felt that the closing I was actually given was too small for the final answer I wanted. Though still excellent getting to the final moments, it was just not what I was expecting.
To pick on a handful of other minor frustrations within Firewatch, I would have liked the opportunity to make use of the backpack to collect the numerous items found around the park, then I could have made my home more personal. The game, like a lot of games, suffers from the one foot drop/climb, or two-inch high log being completely impassable as it’s not be programmed as a path, yet you can easily vault high ledges with clicking “X” elsewhere. Also perhaps next time it would be excellent if Campo Santo could put a few more trophies in, as a minor gripe for all my fellow trophy collectors out there, I would have loved a few more pieces of silverware on my Dashboard; this being said Firewatch is now 100% complete on my trophy board. However, these are my frustrations that I would like to see introduced or amended, others players out there are possibly content leaving a Stag Horn in a locked box, or don’t want an extra few books on the shelf.
Firewatch is an outstandingly beautiful game that will stay with you for a long time. Campo Santo have delivered an engrossing mystery,that you can easily find yourself lost in and not just because orienteering isn’t one of you greatest skills. Both Delilah and Henry are two characters that you feel connected to; come the end of the tale you want to know where their lives goto and it’s upsetting that quite possibly we never will find out. Yes, there are a small cluster of wants and issues, though these do not break the game nor overly spoil it. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead (Telltale), Life is Strange or Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture then this should be your next purchase.
This version of Firewatch was reviewed on the PS4.
You can find more information about Firewatch at their website here.