Mystery in the Wyoming Wilderness (Firewatch)

Game: Firewatch
Genre: Adventure
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
ESRB Rating: Mature
Length: 4.5 hours
Critics Score: 8.1/10
My Score: 9.5/10

Imagine this, your name is Henry and you’re a forest fire lookout in Wyoming in 1989. I bet it sounds kind of boring but that’s the exact setup for Campo Santo’s 2016 game, Firewatch. Of course the game itself is much more than just a fire lookout simulator.

The gameplay of Firewatch is simple yet effective. Much of the game is spent exploring the surrounding wilderness alone. To navigate this world, you’re given nothing but a map and a compass which works for the most part. Sometimes I found myself traveling down the wrong path because I was misreading the map but the compass helps that in a big way. You also get a walkie-talkie which is used to talk directly with your supervisor, Delilah. At any point in the game you can bring up the radio and report to Delilah on just about anything.

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What really stands out about this game is the story. As you admire Firewatch’s beautiful landscape you’ll find yourself thrown into a mystery full of tension, humor and tough decisions. Within 15 minutes of playing I was sucked in. It was like sitting down for a few hours with a good book. The characters are compelling and the voice work made in-game conversations feel natural; so much so that you forget that for most of the game you’re just walking through the woods.

Another selling point for Firewatch is the visuals and the music. The game has a day-night cycle that makes great use of warm and cool color tones. Every scene looks like a panoramic landscape. I found myself stopping at times to just admire the nature around me. The music does a great job giving you the feeling that you’re in the lonely and sometimes terrifying wilderness.

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I read a bunch of reviews before sitting down to write this and most of them talked about how anti-climactic the ending was. I can see how the ending would leave people feeling disappointed but I personally liked it. At first I was underwhelmed but after sitting down and thinking about how the whole story played out, it made sense to me.

As you can see, I gave Firewatch a 9.5/10. I would have given it a perfect ten but the ending just wasn’t enough. From the five sites that I look at in my research, they each gave Firewatch the following scores:

  • Metacritic:
    • PC – 81/100
    • PS4 – 76/100
    • Xbox One – 85/100
  • Game Informer – 7.75/10
  • IGN – 9.3/10
  • GameSpot – 7/10
  • Polygon – 8.5/10

Firewatch is available on PC, PS4 and Xbox one.
 

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