Someone in the office recommended Firewatch to me a few months back, so I decided to give it a shot. I have no regrets.
The game starts off with a text-heavy intro that tell you about the protagonist, Henry, and his wife, Julia. Through a series of paragraphs that sometimes end with two choices for you to choose from, you learn that Julia suffered from Alzheimer’s and how it put a huge strain on Henry’s relationship with her. No matter what choices you make, Henry ends up taking a summer job as a fire lookout in Shoshone National Forest.
Henry is assigned his own tower and is pretty much alone throughout his stay, his only “companion” being Delilah, another fire lookout assigned to a different tower. I don’t want to spoil the rest of the plot, so let’s just say that Henry carries out his duties and explores the park, he discovers clues that point to a secret that was never meant to be uncovered.
The first thing I will say about Firewatch is that it’s a beautiful game. It’s a first-person exploration game, so you see everything from Henry’s perspective. I don’t know how accurate the map of Shoshone National Forest is, but the in-game forest is just mesmerizing.
The other thing I really liked about the game is the banter between Delilah and Henry. While basically just listening to two people talking back-and-forth over walkie-talkies may seem a bit of a drag to some, I really like how their dialogue was written because it felt so natural and real. From serious life talk to playful (sometimes flirtatious) banter, you can really feel both characters’ emotions and somehow empathize with their problems. Some of the jokes can be cliche, but they seem to suit the two characters’ personalities anyway…plus, they’re really 100% better when talented voice actors like Rich Sommer and Cissy Jones deliver them.
I feel like Firewatch has a lot of heart, and I think the developers were brave to create a game that deals with the effect Alzheimer’s Disease has on the person suffering from it and the people around them.. Maybe I like the game because it strikes home way too hard for me, since both my grandmothers suffer(ed) from the disease.
Firewatch is pretty short and can seem boring to anyone who isn’t used to dialogue-heavy RPGs that don’t have action-based gameplay, but if you’re fond of choose-your-own-adventure/visual novel-type games with a solid story behind it, I would highly recommend this game.
(For anyone who’s interested, you may want to grab it while it’s still on sale at 33% off on Steam!)