Firewatch is a first person adventure game developed by Campo Santo and published by Panic. It is available on PC, Mac, Linux and PS4 through Steam.
Set in 1989 in the Wyoming forests where forest fires are a deadly force of nature. In order to receive prompt notification of a fire, the government has set up ‘Firewatch’ stations through the area and each is manned by a person that is not afraid of being alone for four months in the middle of no where. The only human interaction you get is with hikers and campers that go through the region and through your walkie-talkie. The premise of the game is full of mystery and suspense, coupled with the increasingly affectionate interactions of the two people at either ends of the radio.
Henry, also named affectionately known as Hank arrives to his watch post and is greeted with a clear ringing tones of his supervisor Delilah. He took on the job to escape from the fact that his 40 year old wife Julia is suffering from dementia. “She doesn’t even remember who I am” he says at one point to Delilah. He explains his grief and frustration to his supervisor and it HINTS at signs of romance. Actually it’s pretty obvious how Henry wants to be with Delilah. This has to break some sort of rule.
Spoiler past this point
As Henry begins his duty at the Firewatch, and got to know his supervisor, someone is starting to create mayhem for the new volunteer. Communication wires are cut and someone broke into his tower and began to throw his stuff around and out the window. At this point, I was scared as fuck because as I was climbing back up the tower, I thought someone was going to murder me. Turns out nothing was there, only cool breeze of the night.
Things started to get even crazier when Delilah tells us that two girls went missing and Henry was the last person to see them. She also mentioned in the most nonchalant tone that the previous volunteers, a son and father, Brian and Ned stopped coming to work all of a sudden. Delilah also says that she loved talking to Brian and listening to his fantastical stories of castles, dragons and monsters. Unfortunately this all ended when they disappeared. CLEARLY there are more than just bears in this forests.
As Henry finds more and more clues of someone observing and making note of his every note, he and Delilah become more paranoid. A major forest fire ignites and this just adds to the urgency of the situation. What’s more, Henry finds a government facility that has a receiver that allows the user to intercept and record calls made over the air. Notes were made on the personality of every single Firewatch volunteer INCLUDING their susceptibility in getting influenced. is about to hit the fan.
In what must be the most anti-climatic, non-conspiracy, normal ending every it turns out the person who has been giving Henry and Delilah hell for the past few months was Ned, Brian’s dad. Henry finds Brian’s body at the bottom of a cave and reluctantly tells Delilah who flips out and blames Ned for the death of his son. Ned has been going around scaring Firewatch volunteers away from the cave for the past year in an attempt to prevent anyone finding Brian’s body.
As a forest fire spreads, the government begins evacuating the area and Henry begs Delilah to stay and wait for him so they can finally meet in person. Delilah says okay but leaves anyways because she’s
a heartless moron emotionally ridden and does not want to “stay near the shadow of dead boys body” – whatever that means.
It was like a walking simulator. You spent more time walking from point A to B than anything else. Granted the scenery was AMAZING, absolutely beautiful but when you spend 15 minutes getting from one end of the map to the next, it gets rather slow very quickly.
The map deserves a mention of its own because of how intuitive and awesome it was. While the amount of walking was awful, the map made it easier. I loved its realism and how it showed where you were in the area. In addition, updating the map shows an animation of Henry drawing on the points of interest and it’s so well done. More games should use this technique.
Other than walking around and clicking a few buttons to move up and down a hill, there was not much else to the game. The story was the main focus point and it was done well. I liked that you could interact with objects by picking them up and throwing them everywhere. Fun stuff. You can also have a pet turtle. I LOVED Turt. So cute.
The controls were responsive. I didn’t feel any lag and it was actually quite realistic. I wish you could run even faster though. TOO MUCH WALKING.
The premise of the story was great, the mystery and suspenseful atmosphere was immersive but I was disappointed by the ending. It had so much potential because of how they set it up but the ‘solution’ of the mystery was surprising because I never really thought about Brian and Ned until the game literally through it in my face in the form of a dead child’s body. I wish the devs could have taken the mystery in a different direction rather than giving it such a bland resolution.
The interactions between Henry and Delilah were 10/10. Funny, witty and realistic. The voice acting was amazing and really gave both characters a real personality that the player could relate to. Unfortunately, nothing really came out of it because they never met. REALLY? You spent the entire game setting up this relationship, letting them flirt and make suggestive comments but you don’t even let them meet each other? This was a disappointment.
Beautiful. Insanely aesthetic and screenshots looked good no matter how you took the picture. Pictures speak louder than words in this case.
The music was good. I liked it, it wasn’t the most amazing thing but it definitely contributed to the atmosphere. It would change depending on where you were and what stage of the game you were at.
Overall, I enjoyed the game but it was very slow. I powered through because the dialogue and graphics were funny and amazing but the resolution was a disappointment.