Clocking in for me at a little over 5 hours, Firewatch packs a lot of emotions into a small, beautifully crafted package. Firewatch differs from most video games as it lacks any sort of combat mechanic, this is more refreshing than you might think. I truly enjoyed just walking around the wilderness, talking on my radio, and enjoying the occasional reminders of humanity in the form of discarded beer cans. I made it a point to collect every piece of garbage I came across, as far as I could tell this didn’t have any impact on the game, but it felt like what Teddy Roosevelt would have done in the same situation. I also channeled my inner Smokey the Bear by ensuring that I stomped out every smoldering campfire I encountered.
The game has been designed in a way that effortlessly guides you through the story, while rewarding those who prefer to take the road less travelled with scenic vistas and an opportunity for reflection that is usually reserved for great literature or film. If the game was nothing more than an opportunity to walk around and explore while doing your best to prevent forest fires, that would have been enough; However, Campo Santo studios has more ambitious plans for their debut title than simply walking around collecting garbage. Firewatch does a great job of lulling you into a sense of complacency with just enough excitement sprinkled throughout the first half of the game to keep you focused on your main goal of keeping watch for fires. The game’s second half takes a sharp turn and plunges you headfirst into a very thrilling mystery set against the backdrop of the ever expanding June fire.
There is an immediate and obvious chemistry between Henry and Delilah, they very quickly cling to one another, as if they are both running from their own lives but are afraid to go it alone; Henry needs Delilah just as she needs him. Firewatch explores loneliness from multiple angles and forces you to confront complicated emotions. Henry is a man running from his past and Campo Santo has done a fantastic job of making you feel that it’s up to you to use this time in Henry’s life to influence the course of his future. The dialog choices available feel like what someone might actually say when put in a similar situation, I didn’t have any trouble trying to find the choice that would best reflect my actual feelings at that exact moment.
Firewatch is not so much played as it is experienced, It doesn’t feature any difficult platforming or puzzle solving elements and much of the conflict presented is internal. The ending left me with more questions than it answered, but I think I prefer it that way; the player is left to make their own interpretation as to what happens next.
Rocket Pants Rating: Dive In
Dive in games might not be perfect, but they are worth your time, money and investments. Once you can afford them, don’t hesitate. Grab them and enjoy!
BEER THIRTY: My Firewatch experience was enhanced by the delicious notes of pine and citrus that were present in the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA that I was enjoying during the second half of my playthrough.