If you’re going to do a “Walking Simulator” this game, this game man, is how you do it!
Firewatch is a game that came out of nowhere, appearing on steam like a ghostly apparition, it quickly became insanely popular, having sold an estimate of 169,052 copies within 7 days of its launch. Not bad for something that didn’t have the backing of a full AAA marketing campaign. It’s a bit pointless to ask whether I believe that its a good game as I’ve made my placement clear in the first sentence.
The game is set in the massive wilderness of America’s Shoshone National Forest, a desolate and lonely place that compliments this games themes, the back drop burns with the cartoon-ish flaming color palette that. whilst not visually demanding on your system still looks extremely vibrant and beautiful. The game does a fantastic job of making you feel insignificant in this completely natural world. However the game does not dilute the human element, this is done through fantastic writing and outstanding voice actors for Hank (Rich Sommer) and Deliah (Cissy Jones).
It’s truly this interaction between the two characters that compelled me to continue my journey, through this wilderness as I started to put pieces together to make sense of the events that were evolving around me, the dialogue is quirky and intuitive quickly giving us a measure of the characters. It’s not what is said however that makes this game so beautifully bitter sweet, it’s the half sentences, what’s alluded to in silences, rolling meaning within meanings.
As I said before you begin this story as Henry. You gain a picture of his backstory through a little multiple choice introduction. To begin with it’s a simple affair, deadbeat boy meets intelligent and beautiful, a love story that could be fitted to any 2 pence pop-punk song. The swelling crescendo of joy however quickly breaks which leads to Henry escaping. This is where we get involved, taking control of Henry as he unpacks his truck for his placement as an officer of the Firewatch.
Throughout Henry’s journey the game does a beautiful job of not defining in any certain terms what we’re doing. I’m not saying that there aren’t objectives, markers (Done beautifully on a handheld map) and the like, there are it’s just the story coats itself in smoke and mirrors. Are you being stalked by a killer? Are the government performing experiments in a secret facility? Or are you simply going insane from the isolation?
The only downside, in some peoples opinion, is the games abrupt ending. This cut off left a lot of people feeling unfulfilled after becoming so enthralled with the characters and the story. Whilst I can totally understand were these people are coming from, for me I believe that it totally depends on your journey, mentality to the events that are happening around you, and even as far down as to what type of person you are.Different people will take away different things and is a beautiful thing.
In the words of Smash Mouth: My worlds on fire, how about yours? That’s the way I like it and i’ll never get bored.