Despite the very short gameplay, Firewatch is incredibly entertaining, and the four hours are also really filled with the story throughout, which we gradually uncover in the first-person perspective. There are no epic battles, no weapons, no skills, no trial, and error - And it works surprisingly well! Firewatch begins with a few flashbacks pres...
- Jun 01, 2021
Despite the very short gameplay, Firewatch is incredibly entertaining, and the four hours are also really filled with the story throughout, which we gradually uncover in the first-person perspective. There are no epic battles, no weapons, no skills, no trial, and error - And it works surprisingly well!
Firewatch begins with a few flashbacks presented purely in text. We learn that our character's name is Henry and we get to see how he meets Julia, whom he later marries. There are arguments, reconciliations, discussions, walking the dog - and then something goes thoroughly wrong. Henry escapes from everyday life and takes a summer job in a national park in Wyoming: As a fire watcher (or however you might translate Firewatch). This is where the real game begins.
Henry arrives at the park and we control him in the first-person perspective (you only see Henry's hands throughout the game) to his lookout tower in the middle of the park. Here, secluded from the world, he is supposed to observe the park and report any fires in the park. Sounds boring? It is, which is probably why he took the job. If it weren't for the radio.
When Henry arrives at his tower, he finds a walkie-talkie. With it, he can contact the experienced guard Delilah, his boss, who is in the tower a few kilometers away. Delilah instructs Henry, i.e. us, and gives us orders. She also has some tips in store.
But she is much more than just a "quest giver" because little by little the two also talk more to each other. As Henry walks around the park, he is almost constantly in contact with Delilah, they tell each other stories from their lives and get to know and like each other. However, we have to actively respond to Delilah's "calls" - if we don't, we miss out on dialogue - and almost always have a choice of multiple response options, so we can personalize Henry a bit. However, I don't know yet if the different answers will make the story develop differently and allow for different endings, for example.
So far it sounds more like a radio play, doesn't it? Yes, because this dynamic and Henry and Delilah is simply the supporting element of the game. But actually, there is also a story and we don't run around haphazardly in the park. Shortly after arriving at the observation tower, Delilah sends Henry off to inspect some forbidden fireworks in the park. And with that, some strange goings-on begin. Little by little you get on the trail of a mystery and you realize that not everything is peace, joy, pancake in the park idyll.
The graphics are kept in a kind of comic style, but thanks to the lighting effects and beautiful animations they are very atmospheric. At different times of the day, the park presents itself in a completely different light.
We orient ourselves exclusively with a map of the park and a compass, otherwise, our HUD is completely blank - which also does the game a lot of good. It would be too boring to simply follow an arrow on the minimap. This way we have to study the map more often and turn to see where which compass direction is.
Besides the excellent voice dubbing, the other soundscape is also very appropriate: wind, birds, and insects, rustling in the bushes, and noises that we have to follow. This also contributes a lot to the fact that we feel transported into the middle of a park.
Four hours of play is very little. But these four hours are really fun. Until shortly before the end, it is also not clear what will await us at the end.