REVIEW – Campo Santo’s game looked promising before launch, and this statement still applies after Firewatch’s release. It’s not unreal, and it’s also based on real life events while it tries to be ruling us psychologically to an extent. In the end, we see the same ending, and then we can just look in front of ourselves. This game had more potential… Pity…
As with The Witness, Firewatch also provides content in a different way. You have to get there. I’m not saying that this game is long (in fact, it’s not), but the way it launches is a false illusion. It gives you the feeling of those text-based adventure games from the eighties – back then, it was hugely popular! -, setting up the background story of Firewatch, as well as the relationship of Henry and Julia. Sadly, the girl starts to suffer from early dementia, so she slips away from us further and further. We’ll have to make some hard decisions about her. (And there’s no clear good or bad answer, eventually, we’ll have to choose between two bad options.)
Loneliness in Wyoming
During this text intro, Henry’s life is being crushed and by the time we get to control the guy, he’s already at his new workplace, a fire tower. This is where he escaped to from all the pain and suffering. He’s alone but not really – on his radio, another guard called Delilah will constantly talk to him. This can either be a positive or negative thing – you will not be able to talk to anyone else, but the dialogue and voice acting are spot on.
The dialogues are also realistic – there are „walls” between the two characters, but as time passes, they begin to open up to each other. Of course, we will get to choose from the options for Henry’s responses. These will slightly change some things around us. For example, if you flirt with Delilah, you might see Henry take his wedding ring off the next day. This is just one example, mind you.
Firewatch is a first-person adventure/exploration game. Luckily, we can’t get lost that easily as we get a map and a compass to get around the woods. We’ll see some objects, locations or areas where we get to chance to talk with Delilah about them and for good reason: the gameplay mainly focuses on the relation between her and Henry. You can also pick up some notes from former guards that expands the background story a bit more.
However, other than that, there’s not much for replayability purposes. Because of this, in my opinion, this game is only good for one playthrough for most players, and that’s it.
The initial version of the game wasn’t perfect. Before it got patched, the PS4 port started to chug noticeably for a few seconds after walking around for 4-5 minutes to load the forest in. It got fixed, but I think I should mention this nevertheless. The graphics look cartoony, and they are easy to the eyes. It’s not CryEngine-quality, but you can’t expect it either. Too bad I haven’t seen wild animals. I’d have been happy to see a grizzly bear wander around… but then I realized you can’t die in this game.
The game isn’t perfect. Once or twice, I needed to walk around to get the log I just read to disappear off the screen by pausing the game, going back to the note, etc. When I had to choose some dialogues, the highlighting was a little annoying. The biggest issue I have: whatever you do, it’s worthless. You get one ending. Fine – for a book or a TV-series, maybe. However, for a video game, it should have received something extra as well. The game deserves more than this for an ending.
Maybe worth a try
Firewatch isn’t a bad game, but it’s short, replayability is almost non-existant (except if you want to listen to different dialogues), plus I think this title is dividing, although not as much as The Witness. Campo Santo has done a good job, but we won’t remember their game in the long run.
+ The dialogue quality
+ The voice acting
+ The relationship between Henry and Delilah depends on us
– Only worth replaying if you have grown to love it
– False illusion – just one ending
Publisher: Campo Santo
Genre: First-person adventure/exploration
Release date: February 9, 2016 (PS4, PC)