Game Review: Firewatch (Xbox One X)

“You are here, and it’s beautiful, and escaping isn’t always something bad.”

 

Firewatch is a first-person mystery adventure game developed by Campo Santo and published by Campo Santo and Panic.

Firewatch takes place in the American state of Wyoming in 1989. Players take on the role of Henry (Rich Sommer), a fire lookout who is assigned to his own tower in Shoshone National Forest. Through exploration of the surrounding area, Henry uncovers clues about mysterious occurrences in the vicinity that are related to the ransacking of his tower while out on a routine patrol and a shadowy figure that occasionally appears watching him from afar.


Henry’s only means of communication is a walkie-talkie connecting him to his supervisor, Delilah (Cissy Jones). Players may choose from a number of dialog options to speak with her upon the discovery of new interactive objects or environments, or can refrain from communicating. The player’s choices will influence the tone of Henry’s relationship with Delilah. As the story progresses, new areas will be opened up for players. The game also features a day-night cycle.

Firewatch is an immersive, and at times eerie, experience. It is the video game equivalent of reading a mystery, suspense, or thriller novel – one that you won’t wish to put down until you reach its conclusion. A heartfelt and intimate experience, putting us in the shoes of a fragile man who chose the isolation of nature to escape a great pain. It’s more an interactive tale rather than a proper game, but its story and awesome scenery make it worth the experience. On top of that, the voice acting is amazing and really drags you into the story.

I’ve seen many criticisms of the games ending, to which I have this to say. I feel that this game is about two people meeting in extraordinary circumstances and helping each other. The ending for me was enough, even if it was more pedestrian than expected, because it was realistic. Real life isn’t as wild as you want it to be and in the end Henry gained just what he needed on his journey into the wilderness. I also think people’s opinion about the ending is a huge injustice to what happens. Henry’s reaction should be yours, your paranoia finally ended by this realisation and almost relief of such a sad situation. Just because it didn’t involve a government conspiracy, doesn’t mean it wasn’t impactful.

 




Firewatch
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