Firewatch is a game many have been looking forward to since the moment they laid eyes on it. It’s impossibly beautiful setting, coupled with a unique and refreshing sense of humor all painted a very intriguing picture. Having played through the PS4 version of Firewatch several times, I’ve come away with an experience that had my heart-racing in one instance, and me laughing out loud during another.
What you might not have known about Firewatch is that the game has a very interesting background fill before you even step into the main story of the game. The first fifteen or twenty minutes are about players filling in the background of who Henry was before he came to Wyoming.
Everything is centered around Henry and his wife Julia. I learned about what has happened between the two, from the moment they met to the summer Henry spends as a lookout. Choices were given to me in regards to important decisions Henry made over the course of their relationship, and although switching up choices in separate playthroughs does yield a subtle difference, the major plot lines do not change.
I was slightly disappointed with the fact that early choices didn’t really impact where and why Henry has come to Wyoming to be a lookout for the summer. They are there merely just to be there, and lend maybe a different line or two for you to read. Aside from the irrelevant choices, the background between Henry and his wife Julia is truly heart-wrenching, and is an unexpected canon for what happens after.
Once you get into the summer job of Henry’s, you go through the story exploring the gorgeous and colorful landscape of Wyoming. Firewatch does look best on PC, however, it still is plenty beautiful on PS4. Controls are rather basic and that’s fine for the type of experience this game is, though trying to navigate through the wilderness with his map can be frustrating at times.
I get that Campo Santo is trying to give players a more real experience of what it is like to navigate through the unknown wilderness, but there were certain instances when a little more direction would’ve been helpful. That said, getting lost wasn’t always the worst thing as I frequently stumbled upon cache boxes scattered around the world, and each of them provided further background on other characters in the game.
I believe Firewatch is meant to be an experience you leisurely take your time with, versus one you sprint through, and I’m speaking literally. This became evident when sprinting on the PS4 version of the game frequently caused choppiness, drops in frame-rate and a one-time instance of the game freezing, resulting in a reset. It wasn’t a problem to not sprint through the world, however, when you slowed down, that also meant the game’s narrative and plot began to drag.
The first half of the game does a fine job of introducing us to the sarcastic, witty and humorous relationship between Delilah and Henry. Their relationship evolves and it’s interesting to learn more about each person as you explore the various dialogue options. Playing with the different responses is quite a lot of fun and is worth a few playthroughs just to hear everything and see what would have changed had you said the other line.
Firewatch does a great job of searching your soul through the dialogue choices you have to make between Delilah and Henry. What are your intentions for the two of them? How loyal of a husband is Henry? These are a few of the questions you will answer on your own and you have to live with them, no matter how things shake out. Firewatch is at its strongest with the serious choices it sets on the player’s shoulders, particularly towards the end of the game.
Despite a very slow start, Firewatch‘s narrative turns out to be brilliant with the way it makes you believe one thing is happening, when it reality, it turns out to be something entirely different. Campo Santo had me thinking one way the entire time I played the game, and then it wonderfully turned the tables on me and showed what the logical, true reality of this world was.
A few moments had me losing my mind as I wandered through the wilderness. Having already been attack from behind once in a previous moment of the game, I couldn’t get that out of my mind. That hand-in-hand with a sometimes creepy soundtrack, made the rest the story a high-blood pressure experience.
How Firewatch is ultimately resolved is spectacular in my opinion. I think many people will appreciate where it ended up, especially with some of the other places it could have gone. My first playthrough was around four and a half hours, while the second was considerably shorter.
Firewatch has a funny, surprisingly intelligent narrative all captured within a spectacular and grand setting that worth a picture or two. Even though there were some obvious performance issues with the PS4 version of the game, Firewatch is still more than worth playing, multiple times.
- Unexpected, brilliant story
- Breathtaking setting
- Hilarious dialogue
- Performance issues
Campo Santo provided byteclay.com with a PS4 code of Firewatch for the purposes of this review.