After a couple of months of disappointing games, my good friend Ryan told me about a new indie game on the PlayStation store. “The first 15 minutes of the game is just like the first 15 minutes of the movie Up” he tells me. So I begrudgingly shell out $26.95 to purchase it and patiently wait for the game to download to my PlayStation 4 system. The first thing I noticed was the unique art style this game has, it is not the most out there amazing graphics, but for an indie game on a budget, it was stunning. The intro video hooked me in and I cried proudly at the beauty and the care that had been taken with this story and the characters.
Firewatch follows the character of Henry who after a series of life altering events takes a job to get away from everyone and everything at a national forest. Situated in a lookout in complete isolation, Henry’s only contact is with his supervisor Delilah via a 2 way radio. After a series of events unfold in the park, things become frightening really quickly. Missing teenage girls and a rampant forest fire provide some giant plot points mixed in with mundane tasks of fixing communication towers, chopping down trees and exploring the forest.
While this may sound similar to most games you have played before, the beauty of this game lies in the conversations. The hauntingly creepy silences that linger between the small amounts of music provided and the conversations with Delilah are orchestrated perfectly. Although I did start to catch on that a major cut scene would happen whenever the music started swelling, and while I thought this might annoy me, it provided me with sweaty palms, bated breath type behaviour after the first few encounters.
Conversations between Henry and Delilah can be chosen through a series of varying responses from Henry, and this will shape the relationship in a certain way. Personally my favourite was hiking to the other end of the map to get fresh supplies and taking all 3 backpacks of food instead of just the one instigated some great dialogue and showcased the game writers wicked sense of humour.
Visually this game is one of a kind interestingly enough designer Olly Moss does the work here. The imagining of a national forest is breathtaking and the attention to detail for a game of this calibre and budget is an achievement. The only let down was a lack of animals for a state forest, it was surprising that there weren’t any animals or even bugs that weren’t part of a plot point just in the environment itself.
The mechanics of this game are quite simple, you navigate around in the first person, responding to Delilah through a series of optional responses or you can choose not to respond and leave the silence to gain an awkward response. Sometimes the environments tripped when loading and it is a little buggy, but nothing too irritating.
This game completely floored me, after feeling underwhelmed by some of the big releases lately; it was nice to be pulled into a world that I loved. To be entertained, amused and shocked by characters, and play through a story that is well thought out. Firewatch is hands down THE best game I have played in 2016 (so far!) and at a great price, you really can’t afford to miss it!
P.S When you find the beloved little turtle to adopt you simply MUST call it Turt Reynolds!
Firewatch is out now on PC (Via Steam store) and the PlayStation 4 system.
This review is based on the PS4 version and was purchased by the reviewer. All pictures are screenshots taken ingame on the PS4 Share function.