Firewatch: Hauntingly Beautiful

Recently released indie title Firewatch, developed by Campo Santo and published by Panic, has a somewhat strange allure.

Firewatch takes place in the Wyoming wilderness in 1989. Players take on the role of Henry, A somewhat broken man who has retreated from his messy life to work as a fire lookout. Your job is to look out for smoke and keep the wilderness safe. Your only contact is your supervisor, a woman named Delilah whom is available to you through a walkie talkie.

First things first, if you are not emotionally mature or ready to deal with some hard hitting adult themes, this game isn't for you. The first few moments floored me. I won't go into spoiler territory but let's just say I was sitting there, watery eyed and stunned. It is nothing graphic or horrifying, but it will give the ol' heart strings a tune.

Firewatch is a beautiful game. The art style is not something that I would usually go for, especially in a current gen setup, yet the way it fills the screen as you walk through, it is both soothing and visually spectacular at the same time.

The story here is what grabs you. The voice acting is spot on and down right hysterical at times. Interactions are all determined by what you have decided to do and how you play the game. Basically you've retreated to the woods to escape your life for a summer. The hot arid conditions of this summer has everyone on edge. As you progress through the story you notice that your role within the park is forever evolving. You are not just a lowly fire lookout. You will need to search your surroundings to work out some mysterious goings on.

One thing you will notice is just how isolated Firewatch makes you feel. When walking through the forest, there is no one with you. There isn't much in the way of wildlife, you are completely alone. There are other people in the game, but at the stage I am currently at, I have only seen them as shadows in the distance or a dark figure behind a torch light being shone in your face.

Playing with a headset on you will start to hear things behind you, the movement of the foliage, footsteps, creaks and cracks from trees in the wind. It all adds tension and drew me further into this wonderful world.

So far the best way to describe game-play is an interactive story, not unlike Ethan Carter is. You are in control, the direction you travel is ultimately up to you. The story is very much yours to write.

So if you're in for an emotional roller coaster ride this may be something to expand your horizons and delve deeper into the relatively new but ever expanding first person exploration genre.

Currently Firewatch is on sale on PSN for $26.95 for plus subscribers and $29.95 if you're not. With game play I cannot see to exceed 4-5 hours, pricing is worth it. Also available on Windows, OS X and Linux

Pat (Snoogan512)
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