Firewatch, a first person adventure video game developed by Campo Santo and published by Panic for Microsoft Windows, Linux and PlayStation 4. Considering that first person adventure video games are one of the most exciting genres in gaming today, Firewatch is expected to break new ground in interactive storytelling, eschewing action and spectacle for quieter, more meditative experiences.
The game takes place Wyoming’s Shoshone National Forest in the wake of the 1988 Yellowstone fires, Firewatch being the debut from Campo Santo, a new studio made up of veterans of Telltale, Klei, 2K, Double Fine. It follows fire lookout Henry over the course of a summer, as he investigates the surrounding area and converses with his supervisor. Firewatch actually begins far from the wilderness, at the bar where protagonist Henry met his wife Julia. Over a quarter of an hour or so, we’re taken through a whirlwind of a relationship that is by turns funny, romantic, and completely emotional.
The prologue it’s just background information, but it informs everything Henry says and does. A game has never thrown so many emotional feelings before even really starting. Also Firewatch jumps from its prologue into an almost entirely separate story which struggles to match the power of the opening moments. In many ways, Firewatch plays similarly to FPX Gone Home the same “pick up, put back” mechanic, the same notes found around the game world, but it also got a dialogue component that the other game lacked. Throughout the game, Henry speaks via his radio to his boss Delilah, the real star of the game. As he investigates developments in the wilderness, they talk about everything, with subtle direction from the player. The writing of dialogue is exceptional; they joke around, talk random stuff, and have heart to hearts like real people. Two storylines which are playing out over Firewatch’s are five or six hours of gameplay. Both are really good and the players possibly will get the addiction to play the whole game in a single sitting. Also, needed to mention that the two storylines are vastly different in tone, while in same time are complementary.
Talking about graphics the environment looks amazing, clean designed and colors being pretty good chosen. Technically, it’s an open world, but the story pulls players through it fairly linearly with a few optional sideways. Even if the game has quite a linear structure, the writing makes the player feel like they’re choosing their own path through the landscape.
A bit of downside is that the game is quite short so players looking for a gameplay challenge or hundreds of hours of playing won’t find in Firewatch. Firewatch is an unconventional game; it’s full of surprises, so lets’ give it a try.