Game review on PlayStation 4
Callum Corcut / Wed 16th Mar 2016
365 views / 6 bites
Firewatch is less about exploring/preserving a vast national park and more about exploring the psyche of the main protagonist Henry.
If you like the sound of a dialogue-driven adventure that is centered on believable characters, then this game may be worth a look.
The story is set in the 1980's and follows the immediate aftermath of Henry's deteriorating relationship with his wife Julia. In the prologue you discover that Julia has been diagnosed with early dementia and her well being is suffering greatly.
Henry is a middle-aged man that begins to resort to alcoholism in order to cope with the fast declining condition of his wife. He tries to support her but it becomes far too difficult, so Julia's relatives decide to take her back to her homeland, Australia.
Now how depressing did that sound? That was only the first two minutes and already you can tell that this is an interesting premise with a character that we can empathise with.
The rest of the story takes place shortly after when Henry spontaneously takes a job as a firewatch in order to escape his bleak reality. The only person Henry is in direct contact to is his fellow co-worker Delilah who occupies a tower on the other side of the park.
Firewatch offers no combat or actions to speak of, many have dubbed it a "walking simulator." That is not necessarily a bad thing, as the primary gameplay mechanics rely on the game's core strengths of dialogue and exploration.
You can climb, run, pick up and extract things and also converse on your walkie talkie. It may be simple but they make sense for what the game is; a people watcher.
Some of the visuals are truly beautiful; this is particularly true when staring over a huge canyon during sunset or watching a wildfire ominously crackle through the night.
This said, it's evident that the developers had huge budget constraints, as the national forest is almost lifeless and the animations can be unbearable.
Firewatch delivers some of the best interactions between two characters you may ever see in a modern video game.
For the entirety of the game, you primarily interact with Delilah through the radio. Depending on your responses Delilah's replies can range from kind, snarky, sweet, comedic and flirtatious.
It's almost like reading a book and imagining what a character looks like in your head but never knowing for sure. The banter between 'Hank' and 'D' is simply priceless.
Firewatch is undoubtedly a well-crafted story-driven game. The major downside is that it's only 4 hours long (roughly).
If you believe in quality over quantity then Firewatch is a great experience that demonstrates just how memorable quality voice acting and excellent scripts can be in modern gaming.