Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
The first game from Campo Santo, Firewatch is an immersive ‘walking simulator’ in the vein of Gone Home, The Stanley Parable and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.
Set in 1989, you play as Henry, relocating to the Wyoming wilderness to escape his chaotic life who has to now watch for signs of smoke and fire. Henry’s only contact is Delilah, his supervisor, contactable on his radio at all times. The voice acting between the two leads is quite simply fantastic, they sell both the story and their characters and are two of the best I’ve heard in a game in quite some time and I found myself contacting Delilah at every possible moment to ask her about everything.
Set over the course of an entire summer, the game is separated by days, acting as chapters; this allows the game to jump around to unexpected places as every time the game cuts to black and hits you with the day screen you won’t know when you’ll be re-joining; it could be with the striking red of dusk, the soaring heat of noon or the blackness of night and likewise the game can jump forward, hours or even days. It works remarkably well and every time you hit the days screen it’s like finishing a chapter of a good book, you want to keep reading and see what’s going to happen next and like a good book you can’t put down, it’s best played in one sitting, clocking in at around 3-5 hours.
The game sells the setting nearly as well as it sells its characters. The UI is great with no mini-map and just a map and compass to bring up. Likewise, the art style suits the game amazingly well with its bright colours and swaying fauna, unfortunately the lack of any wild life and Henry’s inability to swim or climb a fence undercuts the excellent setting.
Your ability to enjoy the game depends on how much you have enjoyed similar walking simulators. All roads will eventually lead you to the same path, there are no side quests and no adventure game mechanics having you solve puzzles. It’s a story, a great, superbly written one which I won’t spoil, which consists of two people talking entirely by radio and I was captivated from the opening day to its final rousing moment.
5 flapjack fires out of 5