Firewatch from Campo Santo is a first person adventure game set in the deep wilderness of Wyoming. Henry just needs to get away from it all and by that he means everything, including his wife’s declining health. To him, a forest ranger job where he can basically be alone and uncontactable for a few solid months seems like just the ticket. Unfortunately for Henry however, his own guilt won’t be the only thing haunting his escape from reality.
I’ve heard the praises of Firewatch being sung all over since its release in 2016. Nothing in particular really drew me in though so I skipped over it time and time again. The graphics seemed nicely done, the story seemed simple yet intriguing, and the play time needed was allegedly on the short side. Even so, it just never sparked my interest among the bevy of other games I was presented with. Then, as these things usually go, we were in the market for a short and simple game, with nice looking graphics that didn’t offer much in the way of a challenge, and lo and behold, in flew Firewatch with that perfect combo! Meaning its time had finally come and it was about time we figured out what all the hype was about!
Firewatch is listed as an adventure game and sure that’s exactly what it is, since you spend most of your time wandering around the wilderness, exploring the area and discovering what this world beckons you to uncover. In reality though I’d liken it more to an interactive visual novel since it’s very story heavy and the story is what gives this game its legs. There’s also a lot of dialogue choices to make, but I don’t know how much the story would change based on the differences. I imagine your relationship with Delilah would be affected more than anything since she’s the only person you converse with during the entirety of the game and a lot of the choices take place during personal conversations with her, but other than that I’m not really sure. The story itself was relatively straightforward and I can’t imagine the game diverging from it to any degree.
You’re given a fairly expansive map to explore but the way the game plays out you really just follow along the routes as needed. Some paths will be blocked for story continuity of course, like needing a key for the cave or an ax for clearing overgrown areas. You’ll even receive a radar that will replace your compass. All of these things will allow you to follow along your A to B route while providing the illusion of choice and variability which is overall pretty cleverly done. How you choose to interact with your environment might change some dialogue prompts but overall the story will progress in the same direction regardless it seems.
While I will say the writing for both the story and dialogue were certainly well done it is also where Firewatch let me down somewhat. It really spends the majority of the game building you up to believe something mind blowing is going to occur and it just doesn’t happen. All that clever story telling just ended with an anticlimactic fizzle unfortunately. Maybe had I made different choices things would have gone in a more exciting direction but as a player that’s not really my responsibility. If the story doesn’t captivate me why would I replay it to see more of the same? If choices matter then shouldn’t they all have a satisfying conclusion?
I can’t say whether the ending would change enough via dovetailing choices for me to change my opinion but that’s not to say the game isn’t worth your time. The story is an expertly told, and voiced, one I would just give a warning to, that you might want to go into it with tempered expectations. It’s a simple experience from start to finish and there’s nothing wrong with that. Two smokey thumbs UP.
There are some points I agree with you and some points I disagree with you. Yes, all endings should be impressive and worth playing, but maybe the people who made the game want to show that it's important to make the right decisions. I don't know, maybe it's worth giving it another chance. I will try the game when I get a chance and see if I like it.
I think it was less about there being different endings, which I don't think there is, or at least none that make any significant changes to how the story ends, and more about one that ultimately didn't deliver in a satisfying way. That's not to say it's not a good story, because it is, but it kind of fizzles. It's also difficult to get into the specifics because then we would risk spoiling it for those who would like to try haha
With all that said, it's more than worth trying, and if you play it I hope you like it!
I know I'll not get a real taste of this game without giving it a try myself but I still understand that this one is a fantastic piece.
After reading a part of the post and seeing the screenshots, I think I understand why this game was praised by its players.
It's definitely a well crafted game with a nuanced story! If you try it for yourself, I hope you like it. It's definitely a chill experience that perfect for a low key gaming night.