Today we will be taking a look at Firewatch, a single-player game released in 2016 by Camp Santo. Firewatch is, at its core, a walking simulator with a heavy element of story. The game’s story takes the form of a mystery, so to avoid spoiling anything, I’ll keep my description fairly brief.
You take up the role of Henry, a man escaping from his problems back home by working as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness during late 1980’s. Your only regular human contact is with your supervisor, Delilah, whom you communicate with via a handheld radio. Something happens outside your tower, leading you out to investigate… and, I’ll leave it at that.
As far as gameplay goes, you can walk around, check your map, and pick up things to look at them. You also occasionally get to make dialog choices during conversations. The game in many ways resembles an interactive movie, or a three-dimensional visual novel.
Even though the game is a few years old, the artwork is still very well done. Things are not hyper realistic, but the wilderness is done quite beautifully in my opinion. The voice acting is also very well done. This is really the linchpin of the game, since the story and emotional content are mostly portrayed by the actors.
The game is relatively short for a video game, in that you can complete the story in 4-5 hours. However, that is fairly long for a movie, which may be a more apt comparison. There is a little replay value in going back to do achievements or choose different dialog options, but that probably only tacks on a few additional hours.
The game has some mature content and themes, so it would probably not be appropriate for young children. The ending also feels a bit rushed compared to the rest of the story. There is a lot of build up, then things get wrapped up in relatively short order.
Overall, I would give Firewatch a solid “B”, or 8/10 stars. It’s a little pricey for the length, so I would recommend picking it up during a sale. It is a well done game, to a degree that Valve, the owner of Steam, bought Campo Santo in 2018. However, this style of game may not appeal to everyone, so if you are looking to run and gun then you can probably pass on this title.
If you want to check out this title, it is available on Steam here. It has also been released for the Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox one. You can find links to purchase it for those consoles on the developer’s site.