Firewatch was released on February 9th, 2016 and is a “single-player first-person mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness.” Reading the description on Steam, the game reminded me of “Yesterday,” a dark, mysterious adventure game so I was very excited to try Firewatch out. You play as Henry, a man who had a good life with a great wife… but just like real life, a storm can blow in and upset it all. The game is set in 1989 with Henry as a fire lookout in Wyoming. It sounds like a quiet job but strange events begin to unfold and the boring quickly turns into something way more intriguing.
First off, I really enjoyed the wilderness and environment paired with the music. It really set the tone of the adventure and though most of the game is spent alone roaming the wilderness while talking to your supervisor, Delilah, on the radio it is soothing (at first) and fun. The suspense really builds up as the game progresses because I kept thinking something awful was going to happen. Every time you climb a rock, rappel, or jump across a broken bridge, his view is always towards his feet so there is no way to tell if something is creeping up behind him. The music of course also changes at certain core moments in the story and at one point I really did NOT want to pry open the bushes and see what was waiting for me (haha!).
It is always exciting to hear about games where your choices might influence the outcome of the story, which is what I expected to happen because at the start of the game there were several screens similar to this one (with SIMs-like soft music playing in the background). Of course, for this one I chose the “You… You’re pretty” and Julia was apparently pretty impressed because they ended up getting married later on. My excitement soon died down a bit when I realized none of the choices would influence the story line – they would only influence the relationship I have with Delilah. Throughout the game, Delilah radios in and has conversations about Henry’s life, her life, what’s going on in the forest, etc. and I was able to choose answers. I generally chose the nicer answers but the one time I was abrupt with Delilah, she left for a while! I thought the dialogue between Delilah and Henry were quite realistic and at times very funny too. They swore like adults do and were sensitive about their personal lives.
- The game play was entertaining and there was plenty of humor and “punny” moments throughout. It is not all happy go lucky exploring the forest though – there are some pretty sad low points in the story which I really appreciated as well.
- The voice acting was great and Cissy Jones really conveyed Delilah’s attitude and emotions perfectly.
- Interacting with items was sometimes a bit finicky since some items could be placed back neatly and some would just flop and roll around. Putting a D20 back into the drawer took me about 3 minutes. I hope my review encourages you to try the game out and try to solve the mystery surrounding.
- The art was very aesthetically pleasing. I found the colours to be soft and the motions smooth enough that I could play for several hours without straining my eyes.
All screenshots taken from the game Firewatch are property of Panic Inc./Campo Santo.