It’s not often that I find a game that leaves such a positive imprint on my mind, but when I played Firewatch, I was incredibly immersed and had found myself sitting through the entire game in one go.
Firewatch is all about taking in the beautiful wilderness of the immense Shoshone National Forest. A large area packed with all kinds of areas, high and low. But with all good things, something dark must follow, and as you progress through the game you begin to uncover a deep conspiracy within the park. Each day you play in the game brings you one step closer to uncovering what is behind it all.
The opening sequence is a prolog filled with multiple choice questions based around the main character, Henry’s life, relationship and finally ending with devastation which leads him to take up Firewatch for the summer.
The story is centered around Henry and his time in the park, and his quirky boss and fellow Firewatch, Delilah. You communicate mainly to yourself and Delilah via walkie-talkie and have very little human contact. In fact, the only people you do meet are two girls at the pool, that you don’t meet properly, and a mysterious stranger who runs away once spotted, both at the start of the game.
The dialogue between Henry and Delilah is fun, quirky and covers many emotional overtones that both trigger Henry’s emotions, and soothes them. As you progress through the game, however, the dialogue becomes a little more frantic while mysterious events begin to unfold.
Henry’s first day as a Firewatch leaves him dealing with a couple of girls setting off fireworks at the lake, but while making his way back to your watchtower he spots a shadowy figure holding onto a flashlight. Unable to see where the figure went, he returns to his shack to find it ransacked, leading to a deep conspiracy fueled plot leaving you checking over your shoulder and debating over finishing the day and going to bed.
As the plot plays out a forest fire occurs and shows no signs of stopping. Every investigation leads you deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. Delilah decides that it is time to request evacuation and you begin to pack up and leave, but suddenly you are contacted by the mysterious conspirator and while traveling to evac point you discover where the conspirator was hiding and his true intentions. Everything becomes clear to Delilah and she asks you to hurry to the evac point.
The world of Firewatch is beautiful and vast, even though the whole map isn’t at all that big.
Bright colorful areas each with their own color pallets, atmospheres, and styles are placed throughout the world giving the player a nice change of scenery. Sadly, you will find that you spend most of your time in the same general areas.
There are some marvelous views to take in throughout Firewatch. From your watch-tower to the mountains, and down in the lakes, there is beauty to be found almost everywhere. It’s obvious that a great deal of thought has gone into the world design.
There are many hidden things scattered throughout the world, and they all add to the feeling that the world is larger than it is. There was so much that I missed that I only happened to come across during my trek to the evac point towards the end of the game. I feel that there is much more to find given the time.
There isn’t much in the line of wildlife, despite the fact it is situated in a national forest and the fact that you see wildlife at the start of the game. The focus of Firewatch may not be on the wildlife, but the lack of wildlife tends to remove some of that immersion.
Firewatch utilizes a sort of cell-shaded style which compliments its pseudo cartoonish style.
The graphics make the game even more beautiful, and if you’re playing on PC it doesn’t take much to run the game at ultra settings, the use of god rays and shadows help with visual immersion.
I would love to see the modding community make changes to the shader to bring even more beauty to Firewatch’s already stellar visuals.
The sound in Firewatch is some of the best that I’ve heard in a long time. As you wonder around Shoshone you will hear everything you would expect to hear out in the wild, from rustling trees to snapping branches and topped off with howling winds.
When I was playing the first day of the game I was questioned about the weather and if it was thundering, and it felt so weird to admit the what they were hearing was from a game. The storm sounds were so realistic which I found to be a breath of fresh air, as there aren’t many games with realistic thunder, it’s always really crackly and overdone.
I recommend headphones for the best sound and most immersive experience
Firewatch is more of an experience, for lack of a better term, but for me, it was definitely that. I was immersed throughout the entire game, I wouldn’t budge! I had to play it all! I’ve not had that kind of experience in a long time, not one where I had to play it all in one sitting.
Everything about the game appealed to me on every level and I enjoyed every last minute of it. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience without revealing any spoilers.
I can’t stress how much of an amazing experience Firewatch is, and if you’re a fan of narrative adventures then it’s definitely a game for you.
Firewatch is currently £9.49 on the PlayStation store.