When we were kids, playing games on our lovely Sega and Nintendo consoles, did we ever imagine there will come a time when gaming will become a medium as deeply impactful and moving as most great books and movies are?
Well ladies and gentlemen, we are living in that time now. And Firewatch is the perfect (living) proof of it. I don’t remember being so profoundly touched by a game in my entire life. And that’s saying something because I’ve been gaming since I was 5 years old.
Excerpt taken from IGN.com
Firewatch is a mystery set in the woods of Wyoming, where your only emotional lifeline is the person on the other end of a handheld radio. You play as a man named Henry who has retreated from his messy life to work as a fire lookout in the wilderness. Perched high atop a mountain, it’s your job to look for smoke and keep the wilderness safe. An especially hot and dry summer has everyone on edge. Your supervisor, a woman named Delilah, is available to you at all times over a small, handheld radio – and is your only contact with the world you’ve left behind. But when something strange draws you out of your lookout tower and into the world, you’ll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making interpersonal choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have.
My Take on the Game:
The only thing I knew about Firewatch before starting it was that it’s based on exploring wilderness. I didn’t read about the story, or the characters. I went in completely blank. I thought it was a National Park Ranger Simulator. And well, that was reason enough for me to be excited about it because 1. I love nature, and 2. I love nature VERY MUCH.
So when it started off, I rubbed my hands together all giddy like a child, thinking “This is gonna be so exciting walking around the woods.” And then suddenly in the very first 5 seconds, a written narration starts. Telling me about a clumsy but charming guy (Henry), and a sweet and confident girl (Julia), and their meet-cute in a bar. And at this point I say to myself with sudden realization “Oohhh, I think I’m gonna fall in love with this game.”
Now the question arises; if this guy has such a perfect life with Julia, why would he move to a dead-end job as a lookout out in the woods?
Wanna know the reason? Please purchase the game. This game deserves to be purchased IMMEDIATELY.
[The screenshots I’ll be sharing in this post are of the actual gameplay. Yes, the beauty of it leaves you speechless.]
Firewatch is perfection in every single aspect. The way this game deals with adult issues through world-class storytelling with the support of a hilarious and heart-wrenching script along with some of the most amazing voice-acting I’ve ever heard in my life makes Firewatch easily my most memorable interactive gaming experience. And how can one forget the perfection of the art direction and gorgeous visuals. It literally blows away your mind.
As I’ve already discussed, the game is completely narrative driven. You, as Henry, work under your supervisor Delilah, and 95% of Firewatch is based on the dialogues of these two individuals over the handheld radio. And that’s where the beauty of this game lies. Just like when reading from a book, you get to enter the minds of these two people who have both run away from something from their life back at home. Along the way, you do run into some trouble. Firewatch goes from something moving to something harrowing in just a couple of chapters, and there are times when you are scared to go out in the dark because of the lurking danger and the terrifying conspiracies surrounding you.
During the entire gameplay you never once get to interact with another person face-to-face, not even Delilah, but you get do to explore the mindset of 4 other individuals: two park rangers who have a wonderful friendship with each other and only converse through a series of letters, and a father (Ned) and son (Brian) who had come out on a hiking trip. Ned and Brian’s perspectives are explored via the things they left behind. Nothing in this game is haphazard. Everything is connected, so paying attention to the tiny intricate details is crucial for an immersive experience.
But there is one tiny issue. It’s not really an issue with the game, but with the way the people are understanding the ending. From reading and watching most online reviews, I’ve observed that the gamers found the ending to be disappointing or off-putting. I really don’t understand why, because in my opinion it couldn’t be more perfect. The game continuously revolved around the issues of commitment and responsibilities, of running away from your problems and keeping yourself in isolation, and the ending neatly wrapped it all up with a beautiful and heartbreaking little bow.
But I’m not saying the naysayers are wrong. Firewatch has a type of ending that needs to be discussed, that needs debate. You can’t just see it in one way and ignore the other aspect. So for those of you who have played the game and want to discuss the ending, send me a message or just start the debate in the comments. I’d love to hear from ya. For the rest of you who haven’t played it yet, please go right now and purchase the game. It’s the best $20 you could spend right now. Please go ahead and support the brilliant Campo Santo Team so that they can continue making games like Firewatch.
My Potahto Rating:
10 out of 10 Potahtos