Firewatch, a story driven adventure game about the great American wilderness. Ah it’s good to be in the fresh air, birds chirping, wildlife running around. Oh wait, I’m still at my computer desk. Woah, that was trippy.
If there is one thing that Firewatch does well, and that’s complete total immersion. I was hooked from beginning to end. Granted it is a short game, but it kept me playing. I didn’t want to stop and I finished it within one sitting.
You play as Henry, a husband with a very deep devastating past that just wants to get away from it all. You take a job as a park ranger protecting the nature reserve from forest fires. The game begins with a multiple choice intro highlighting the key moments from Henry’s life. I don’t want to spoil any of it for you, but I can say your emotions will be played with profusely throughout.
You’re alone in the wilderness, with only a two-way radio to keep you company. The other voice you hear is Delilah’s, another park ranger who keeps coming back to Shosone year after year for the summer. The game is split into days, which basically act as chapters that you have to play out. These take place at different times of day giving you some extremely beautiful visuals. This place actually feels real, albeit the cartoony style in which the game has been designed. I will let you know now that esteemed illustrator Olly Moss, known for his visual art in the form of movie posters was involved in creating Firewatch.
The story really kicks off when you have to explore a camp set up by two teenage girls. They’re launching fireworks which is a big no in the forest. Think of the fires. From here you are sent an a mystery which sees you finding clues to solve and puzzles to break. This is where the game turns into something special. Being alone in the forest is not fun. It’s tense. It gave me a feeling that I was being watched. I didn’t want to check some places out of fear something terrible could happen; I’m not one for jump scares to be honest, especially playing with headphones on.
The voice acting between Henry and Delilah is some of the strongest I’ve seen in a video game. It flows really well and gives you some great insight into the emotion the characters are feeling during the game.
Firewatch is special. It’s not very long, finishing it in four hours or so, but the sheer scale of the National Forest makes it feel huge. It’s been beautifully designed too by a studio of around 12 artists. This is an amazing achievement. It is now available to download on Steam for around £14.99.