Two days ago, I finished Firewatch.
Usually, I’d write my review the very same night, when my thoughts and feelings are still fresh, in order to pour my honest and raw emotions onto a page and offer my readers my very first impression of a game. The night that I finished Firewatch, I sat down for about an hour, staring at time passing, until 7am rolled in and I went to pass out onto my bed.
There was a lot that I knew I could say about Firewatch, but I needed time to filter through all that I felt before being able to find the proper words. The story that I found within Firewatch and all the things that it encompassed so tenderly and brilliantly needed to correct words, it needed me to deeply think about it.
Firewatch is a game that should only take you a few hours, perhaps 4 or 5, to finish. As usual, I took much longer, and gave the game two of my whole nights. In Firewatch, you play Henry, a 35 years old man who decides to take a job over the summer as a Fire lookuot after his life takes a turn.
The story is one of decisions, owing up to yourself and the people in your life, as well as a story about loneliness, cowardice, and mystery. Firewatch takes place solely between Henry and his superior Delilah, another fire lookout, as they communicate with walkies-talkies. The conversations that are exchanged are heavy with human emotions and raw in emotions and honest in their loneliness. In their obvious need for human contact and connection.
Throughout the story you are given the ability to better shape the personality of Henry and decide what he feels regarding his life and his own self, as well as the decisions he must take by the end of his summer job.
I hadn’t expecting Firewatch to have such deeply human dialogue and characters, and to touch on things that I believe any adult with responsibilities and reasonable fears about their own future can easily relate to. At times I felt (my) Henry’s fears and selfishness, his cowardice and the dishonest response he’d give in regards to the decision he had made and his reasoning for them. At times, it was Delilah’s loneliness that I empathized with the most. Her constant attempts at connecting, her own selfishness and irresponsable personalities at time. Both of these characters worked amazingly well together, in a game where they are the sole characters.
In those regards, Firewatch was very simple. You play as Henry, and you talk to Delilah, as you go through you summer job stationed in your tower in Shoshone National Forest. Along with the growth of characters very well written and profoundly human,, there are much larger mysteries that take place within the game, mysteries you are trying to uncover as things become more and more complicated and dangerous as the summer goes. Playing Firewatch, I felt uneasy at time as questions kept popping into my mind. What is going on? Why is this going on, and who is behind whatever seems to be happening? And of course; Are Henry and Delilah really alone?
Firewatch is an extremely beautiful game, with graphics that remain very simple, at times laggy (they should have fixed that by the time I publish this review), but they never distracted me from appreciating a beautiful scenery and breathtaking color palettes. The soundtrack also is quite simplistic, only making appearances at certain moments in the fgame and leaving you experience the rest and its scenery with the type of silence you’d only experience in the wilderness, sometimes soothing, sometimes nerve-racking.
I found myself spending a large amount of time walking around and exploring Shoshone National Forest, in awe of the beautiful design of a game that seems to have been made for the sole purpose of taking people’s breath away, but also discovering clues and the history of the place and the people who where there a long time ago, or something that seemed to be only days away.
As things unfold and the story took unexpected depth, I found myself seeing the forest through a changed perspective. Suddenly, what was beautiful was sad, and what was captivating was now incredibly lonely.
So this is me trying to wrap this up, because once again I believe that to truly appreciate this game, it should be left with it’s mysteries until you, as the player, uncovers them yourself. Firewatch, the first game of both Campo Santo and Panic, is a game that must not be missed. A game that I believe will be one of the best game that I will have played this year, one of the best Indie-type of game that only requires a few hours but succeeds at making a type of impression that big dollar games often fail at.
Firewatch is a game about being human and the fact that often, the right things to do are hard decisions to make, and wanting to run away is as much of a normal human emotion, as wanting to connect is.