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Campo Santo’s Firewatch is the most interesting first-person exploration game I’ve ever played and features a story that easily outperforms most modern day videogames. Join Henry in his adventure in the Wyoming wilderness after he has taken a summer job as a fire lookout.
Starting a job as a fire lookout sounds boring and dangerous at the same time. I couldn’t imagine living in a lookout post in the middle of nowhere with no internet connection and limited contact with the outside world. However, exploring the vast open wilderness of Firewatch from my comfortable couch was the most interesting thing I did in a video game the past year.
Firewatch is Campo Santo’s debut title and these guys should be happy. They’ve delivered an amazing experience, one of the best in my opinion. Firewatch is a first-person exploration game where you, as a man named Henry, explore the Wyoming wilderness after taking a summer job as a fire lookout. What is supposed to be a peaceful respite from your complicated life takes a turn when you start to question some of the things that are happening to you. Your only human connection is over a handheld radio, which you’ll use to speak with your supervisor Delilah about the things both of you are experiencing.
Firewatch peaked my interest ever since its big reveal trailer in 2014. The game looked original and featued a story and setting we haven’t seen before in a game. Firewatch instantly became one of my most anticipated games for years to come. The game finally sees its release on February 9, 2016. I have made it my quest and soul purpose to explore the game to its fullest and enjoy the Wyoming wilderness.
You’ll start the game with an introduction to Henry and his beloved wife Julia. You’ll even have a limited effect on how this story goes, which makes it even more interesting and personal. Henry’s origin tale is lifelike and is written really well, you would almost think one was putting his own life on paper. Henry’s wife gets sick and at some point leaves him and lives with her parents in Australia. Instead of working things out, Henry does what any man would do, he left to become a fire lookout. His reasons for taking the summer job as a fire lookout are understandable, but at the same time unimaginable for me personally.
The inexperienced Henry is guided on his first day as a fire lookout by his supervisor and only human connection, Delilah. You would think guiding someone on such an important task would be done in person, but what do I know about fire lookouts. Instead, Delilah guides Henry, or Hank as she likes to call him on occasions, via a handheld radio. You’ll start with simple tasks and work your way up to more important fire lookout stuff. Days go by and stranger stuff begin to happen, but most importantly you’ll start to like Delilah and build a strong friendship/relationship with her. Character building is key in this game and is done with an amazingly realism. The voice acting is really good and really brings the characters to live. On some occasions Firewatch’s voice acting is even better than what you would find in most big budget “ AAA” titles.
While exploring the vast open wilderness in Firewatch you’ll have some key equipment at your disposal. The map and compass are by far the most important tools you will use and in the beginning I would get lost easily by not using it. When you open one of the many stashes hidden in Firewatch your map could receive an update with important notes and locations. Traversing the wilderness can be dangerous and some places are harder to reach than others. That’s where some of your other equipment comes in handy. You can reach lower parts of the wilderness by rappelling down steep rocks with some ropes you have found. Other useful equipment includes an Fire axe, a foto camera and more.
The wilderness looks beautiful and offers a huge map to explore. Unfortunately, there isn’t much happening in this beautifully looking wilderness. I’m not a huge expert on wildlife or anything, but I would imagine there would be more than enough creatures inside a forrest. In the first part of the game you’ll find a tree, a tree that has scratch marks on it. These marks belong to a bear. However, you’ll never encounter a bear, or any other larger wildlife. I got stung by a bee once and reported it to Delilah, who made fun of me.
Firewatch gave me more than I had hoped for and the story is by far the best I have witnessed this year, I know the year has just started, but it is. Henry’s and Delilah’s friendship/relationship is something that could happen to almost everyone in his situation and the game builds this relationship up from the beginning in an amazing way. Firewatch kept me at the edge of my couch and unwillingly to put down my controller for its duration. The main story unfortunately can be completed in 5-6 hours, but with some extra exploring and enjoying the overall view of the game you could easily make that 8-10 hours.
Firewatch releases on Windows, Mac, Linux, and PlayStation 4, on February 9, 2016.