From the moment Firewatch begins, it sets an incredibly dark tone both in its subject matter and in its humor. Shedding insight and light on topics like alcoholism, dementia, and failing relationships, the writers prove that they have no plans of pulling any punches.
Your story starts by making various dialogue choices that reveal the protagonists back-story. The choices you make can actually make a considerable difference in your character’s development. This only enhances the gripping narrative and interpersonal relationship you see between yourself and your co-worker Delilah.
With one of the most capturing introductions of any game I’ve ever played, Firewatch sets the stage for a very unique and engaging experience.
After the heart-wrenching introduction, you are thrown straight into the Wyoming wilderness. While the area is not incredibly large, there is a surprising amount of depth and diversity throughout the scenery. Every section of the map has a different and unique feel, which is often coupled by varying times of day and situations. Despite the small size of the map, it seems to always remain fresh.
Without spoiling anything, your character Henry has found himself in a rough and emotional situation. He aspires to get a change of pace in his life, and takes a job as a fire lookout. Here he finds himself befriending a fellow coworker and gets involved with a mystery that starts with two teens causing trouble in the wilderness.
When it comes to repetition, Firewatch is quick to change focus as soon as a task starts to become redundant. It is consistently changing pace in order to keep things fresh throughout the fleshed out 4-5 hour campaign.
One of my favorite things about Firewatch is its interactivity. I felt like I could truly interact with the world the way I wanted. Whether it was stealing a boombox from a pair of teens or using a rock ineffectively as a tool, the narrative played along with me. This interactivity can be seen throughout the wilderness. With hidden audiotapes, animals, and clues, the wild Wyoming acts as a playground that encourages you to explore its secrets.
The true beauty of Firewatch can be found in your connection with your fellow lookout, Delilah, through your radio. The writing and voice acting are simply incredible. The hilarious interactions and intimate conversations are among the best voice acting I’ve ever experienced in a video game. My connection with Delilah was the main reason I aspired to continue through the story and new locations. I simply could not put the controller down, and finished the whole story in one sitting.
Firewatch continued to draw me into its fascinating world, but that didn’t come without flaws. With a game that relies so heavily on its pacing and narrative, it is imperative that it runs smoothly. Unfortunately, there were numerous times that my process was halted by bugs and slow rendering disengaged me from the experience. There was one time where I fell straight through the floor and had to load my save, and another time where I got stuck at a supply box and lost about five minutes of progress. It’s a shame that a game as short as Firewatch is hindered by technical problems. These hiccups and frame drops and can really pull you out of the emotionally grabbing experience.
Overall, Firewatch perfectly brings the player in and sets a tone that most games fail to accomplish. It’s a gripping adventure that gives much room for replayability, and allows you to get to know characters that you will never forget. While it may be slightly hindered by annoying bugs and glitches, its great sense of humor and heartfelt narrative push on and allow for an unforgettable experience.
Final Score : 9/10