The year is 1989 and you (Henry), have started a new job for the summer out in the Wyoming wilderness. After a brief but eye-opening introduction to Henry’s devastating back story you arrive in the beautiful new home for the summer, From here you set out on a mysterious new single player adventure.
From the start you can see that the game is heavily story driven, which in the current era of gun heavy shoot ‘em ups is a nice and welcome change of pace. The only communication you have in the game is with your supervisor the ever sarcastic Delilah, as the summer progresses a bond is created between you both as you share in a mysterious adventure.
The audio work for this game is remarkable, the sound track just fits with the game and the circumstances that you find yourself in. The sound effects in Firewatch are maybe some of the best that I have ever heard, the sound of the leaves rusting as you graze a branch while walking, the wind as it howls through the trees and caves, and the wildlife that surrounds you. It shows real skill to get everything so right when it comes sound as this can make or break a game. You want the sound to add to the enthrallment of the game and not distract from it, this is a fine example of how the audio works harmoniously with the visuals to totally immerse you in the game play and the world in which you are exploring.
The controls are easy to grasp, there are few of them. You get a brief introduction to the controls and this is all you need, It is done in a way that it doesn’t appear to be a tutorial as you hike towards your watch tower.
You communicate with Delilah using a Walkie Talkie that you pick up in your lookout tower. As you talk you have different options for how you reply which can have different effects on the direction and the tone of the conversation. As the summer moves along the conversation between the 2 characters reveals more about Delilah and why she is a lookout.
The world around you is a charming cartoonish wilderness that you can stare out into for hours, it is so beautiful, and with the PS4 Share you may find yourself spamming social media every 5 minutes with a new photo of the stunning sunset over the trees or from the valley you just trekked through. The world isn’t the photo realistic environments that are becoming a main stay of games but I think the quirkiness of the graphics just adds to the games overall charm and appeal.
As the summer progresses the story unfolds and you slowly piece together the puzzle that has you and Delilah biting your fingernails with trepidation. The only source of navigation through the world is a small hand-held map and a compass, this means that you may end up taking a little detour on your way from A to B as there are no way points on the map. But that being said you won’t mind in the slightest, referring back to my earlier point, this place is so damn pretty. Scattered throughout the wilderness are little caches which you can use to update your map to help you navigate, and also in those caches you find little objects left by previous rangers had obviously become friends.
Personally I couldn’t help but feel the same emotions that Henry and Delilah felt the game has a way of drawing you and not letting you go, and with the addition of your own pet turtle that you get to name with an adequately awful yet amazing pun, you will just fall in love with Firewatch, (I called mine Turt Reynolds).
Campo Santo’s first outing is a beautiful, story driven work of art and it’s easy to see why when you realise that the brains behind Firewatch are some of the people who worked on the Tell-tale series The Walking dead.
One thing that is disappointing about Firewatch is that it is a bit short but that being said you will be left with the urge to play it over and over again because 1, the story has you gripped from start to finish, 2, I can’t say this enough, it is stunningly beautiful. 3, you have a pet turtle (if you find him) 4, you have multiple different responses between you and Delilah.
Another issue that can be found with the PS4 edition is that there is a frame rate issue. That was meant to be rectified with updates but it hasn’t happened but it’s not a major issue and it does not detract from the game in anyway shape or form.
Overall this game is a must play, it ticks all the right boxes when it comes to a story driven game, you won’t regret your time spent running around the bear infested wild. The shortness of this game is a letdown but that is offset by the replay ability of Firewatch once you’ve finished it you’ll want to start it all again.
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