Firewatch is a story-driven game by developer Campo Santo. People call it a walking simulator, and, while that’s true, it’s more about the personal development of your character, Henry, and his relationship with his boss, Delilah. The writing and dialogue in Firewatch tops the list for Walking Simulators for me.
Firewatch released on PC and PS4 in February, and just released on the 21st of September for Xbox One in NA and will release on the 30th of September for Xbox One in EU.
Firewatch starts us with simple text on a screen. Through this text we explore the background of Henry and a woman named Julia. I won’t spoil anything about the back-story here, but it reminds me a lot of the beginning to the movie ‘Up’. The text sequences are broken up by Henry going to his first day on the job, which includes him getting into his truck, starting on the trail, walking the trail and getting to his post. These are nice sequences that give you a feel for your environment and where you’ll be during the course of the game.
It’s the summer of 1989 in the Shoshone National Forest. Henry is here for the whole summer as a Firewatchman. His first few days are pretty eventful as he learns the ropes, chats with Delilah and has other events occur that will begin to shape his summer. What you say to Delilah will begin to shape the tone of the relationship they have.
You progress through a few consecutive days, before finally getting a peaceful summer, at which point, the day count jumps up by a month. You play through sporadic days as events begin to occur, including a large forest fire (which you get the honor of naming), missing persons, and even a mystery that revolves around Henry and Delilah.
The conversations in Firewatch feel more real and genuine than most games in recent memory. Personality, feeling and emotion are put into the dialogue, which truly makes you feel like you are experiencing life through the eyes of a man named Henry.
This story allows you to be comedic, serious, scared, comforting, accusatory, questioning, and various other things, all through what you choose to say to Delilah. There’s no action in this game, so don’t expect to fight wildlife, however it offers a gorgeous location in the Shoshone National Forest, a wonderfully written story with real characters, choice, exploration and an unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experience with a realistic ending for Henry and Delilah based on their backstories and lives.
Firewatch is $19.99 and worth every penny, even if a once-through will only be about 4 hours, I’ve already gotten 8 hours worth of enjoyment, and plan on many more to come.
A good way to look at this, is if you paid $6/hour for every game (standard movie tickets are about this much depending on length and your location), this game would cost $24 for a once-through. $19.99 is a great price, but never fear, as sales are sure to be ahead with Black Friday and Christmas around the corner!