Firewatch Column – Centralian Advocate.

Advocate Column – Firewatch Opinion

{Please note this column was originally published on 10 August 2018 in the Centralian Advocate} 

Firewatch was released on the 9th of February 2016 to “generally favourable” review scores; it averaged at around 80% on Metacritic. You might be wondering what makes this game so special, it’s actually nothing specific that makes it special, rather the way it all comes together.

Firewatch is a game about an every-day guy who starts working as a Bush Ranger Fire Lookout in a National Park in Wyoming in America after he leaves his old life behind. It may sound like a mundane premise but the developers know how to make this setting very intriguing. The story is helped by stellar voice work delivering dialogue; Rich Sommers plays the protagonist, Henry, and Cissy Jones plays his colleague Delilah and both are fantastic actors. Although the two main characters only work together, they’re relationship plays out in interesting ways. Henry relies on Delilah for updates and reports to continue his work as a Bush Ranger Fire Lookout.

The tone is a little dark and mysterious, but it’s not horrific or terrifying; it has more of a Twin Peaks, spooky vibe to the game. Because it’s set in a National Park it feels incredibly isolated, Henry is almost alone and he doesn’t have experience in his new role. His only connections to other people, are visitors of the park and his trusty side-kick Delilah; she is incredibly important to the game and plays a mechanical part in the game by informing the player of objectives and her dialogue is largely narrative focussed.

Firewatch - Radio.Compass.Dialogue

Firewatch gets often gets Pigeon Holed as a ‘Walking Simulator’ type of game, or genre, which may sound a little negative. It can be a negatively used description, especially for games that are trying to be an Action Game, or an FPS (First Person Shooter). However that description is exactly what the developers, Campo Santo (Studio) was going for – a game that tells a story while walking around and exploring a world.
Campo Santo’s focus was on creating a palpable atmosphere which could draw emotions through its aesthetics, the art work and the broader atmosphere. It’s impressive the way that the developers encourage players to invest in the game and story; touches like lighting effects, the colour palette, the ambience, the sound effects, the (musical) score and the narrative all contribute to an immersive surrounding.

I thoroughly enjoyed Firewatch, I thought the game was thoughtfully crafted and came together really well. Start to finish players could complete the game in about 3 to 4 hours, some might see this as a negative aspect as well, however the length supports the tight experience in my opinion; the story doesn’t suffer from any filer or feel bloated. The developer’s attention to detail and their laser focus on a particular experience really made this a top-to-bottom, high quality experience.



About BakedRyce

I'm exploring my hobby of writing about the video game industry. Please share your thoughts and engage with me! Real keen for these types of discussions.

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