Gaming is perhaps the most flexible entertainment platform that mankind has ever devised. So, as a fan of that same platform it makes me proud when smaller titles like Firewatch from developers Campo Santo, somehow outshines many story driven games in this age saturated with big budget AAA titles.
In Firewatch you spend the summer in the shoes Henry, a man in his early 40’s, who took up the job of a Firewatcher in the beautiful forests of Shoshone National Park, for the summer to get away from his personal problems. The premise being simple it gave the developers a lot of freedom to develop their character and thus we get to see the story of a real man, not someone who came straight of an action flick with his guns and abs. The man is simple in all senses of the word, and that makes him all the more relatable and his relationship/friendship with his charming supervisor in the Shoshone National Park, Delilah all the more relatable, even though you never get to see her in person. The game is pretty short, any story information would mean potential spoilers so, I will be staying away from them, but its safe to say the story will take you through an emotional roller coaster, from surprise, to shock, from sadness to fear, there is no shortage of relatable emotional moments.
Being from a relatively unknown developer, I was surprised to find the level of graphical fidelity of the game. Sure it doesnt have fancy ambient occlusion or volumetric particle effects, but it is a prime example of art style beating realism. From the sunsoaked valleys to the twilight nights, every hour of the day, and every environment is gorgeous in its own right. Even the Forest fire in Firewatch is something to behold. The only thing I found a bit concerning is the lack of any wildlife in the forest, apart from occasional some flying birds.
The gameplay is nothing but daily chores to be honest, go from point A to point B, pick up this item, look for clues, radio Delilah to ask about this item, its nothing mind blowingly amazing, the gameplay here is just a means to drive the story forward, you will find no side quests or collectable loot here, but thats not such a bad thing. The story here is so good, even the chores dont feel boring, and if you are still bored with the gameplay, you can spend time looking at the beautiful forests and ask Delilah about almost everything, her quick and witty(mostly) replys will keep you from putting the game down until the very end.
Firewatch is far from the AAA games we are used to seeing, and its sheer will to stay off the beaten track is what makes it so appealing. The game is short, and can be finished within 4 hours and can be completed in a single go, and the story is such you will want to know of its conclusion. Playing more like a interactive first person movie than an actual game, Firewatch will be absolutely worth your money, if you are looking for an engaging story driven experience. Spend a few hours in the wilderness’ of Shoshone National Park, you wont regret it.