From the moment you start playing Firewatch you’ll immediately notice that this game has an unique aproach when it comes to storytelling. Developer Campo Santo tried to deliver a game based on conversation and exploration that will make you question many aspects of our own morality and sanity while exploring a visualy stunning forest.
Being just a 4-5 hours first person experience, this game is narrative driven. A signifcant event (which I won’t spoil for you) in Henry’s life, determined him to take a new job as a lookout in a Wyoming forest. The first time you arrive at the forest you’ll just want to stay a minute and admire the art-direction. It is really unique and it makes a fictional place look and feel very real. The colors which vary from red, yellow, green, orange, paint an impressive landscape which will be our protagonist’s playing ground for the summer.
Your only contact in this journey will be a woman, Delilah, who is Henry’s boss. The only way you can contact her is thorugh a handheld radio. The relationship that developes between the two characters is very realistic and one of the best I’ve seen in a video game. It just feels like they are two real adults having beliveabale arguments and perspectives regarding the many subjects they approach. Harry’s character can play out different depending on the choices you make, the developers giving you plenty dialogue options throughout the game. You can choose to be a serios person and not to share many details of your personal life with Delilah our be funny almost all the time. Delilah has a personality though that makes her a very good companion and you’ll really want to talk to her for most of the time. She seems really defensive when it comes to her past and at some moments I felt like she was trying to manipulate me, so I started to ask myself if it is actually good to trust her. This sort of questions are a proof of the immersion the dialogue is offering and this wouldn’t be possible without two top notch voice actors. Harry’s voice actor is actually the guy who played Harry Crane in Mad Men, so they really focused on making the dialogue the main attraction of the game.
Story wise i feel like the mistery they were trying to build throughout the game wasn’t really what I was hoping for, but after all it just served as a way to keep the conversation going so it does not impact a lot the main experience. While you’ll try to uncover this mistery, you’ll explore many parts of the forest and you’ll see waterfalls, lakes, rappel down cliffsides, climbing rocks, and also take beautiful pictures with a camera you’ll find out as the story progresses. But unfortunately I didn’t encounter many wildlife. I can only remeber 3 animals and this is affecting the veridicity because you are in a forest and it shouldn’t be to hard to find other life forms. So to sum up the gameplay, for me it divided into exploration and dialogue. I know it might sound slim, but they are so good and so expertly delivered that you won’t need anything else.The mix between the gameplay and the story is so natural that I was really absorbed into the whole experience. You can say that you play the game and also that the game plays with your feelings. Firewatch makes you experince joy, sadness, fear by putting the gamer into a veridic situation.
In the end, Firewatch is an unique experience. It features a visually stunning world which it’s hard to describe in words, and a connection between two characters that is very hard to find in a game. I really cared about Henry and when I had to answer to Delilah I didn’t just press randomly a button just to get over with it. I was curious on how she will react and ultimately it felt real, like I was talking to a real person about real life topics, which is great and very hard to achieve. I honestly recommend this game to everyone. Just let yourself absorbed into an experience that you will remember for years.
Final Opinion: GOOD (Shite, Cash-Grab, Mediocre, Good, Excellent)