Firewatch Review

Run to the woods for solace in Firewatch. 

8 months ago by Felicia Miranda

Firewatch tells the story of how a man’s life became subject to circumstances beyond his control. From meeting the love his life, to losing her and the life they built together due to a terrible illness, Firewatch follows protagonist Henry through a series of events that eventually land him in a lone watchtower in the middle of the Wyoming wilderness. It’s difficult to say whether he’s running from his problems or coming to terms with them, but in this place of wonderment and solitude he finds way more than he ever bargained for.

Firewatch has stunning visuals that beautifully recreate the movement and atmosphere of a forest. These elements, in combination with its thoughtfully placed ambient music and sound, will take you far from the stark brightness of your computer screen to the woodlands of southwest Wyoming. The game has a way of propelling you forward in awe, while also drawing your attention behind you in hair-raising suspicion. Firewatch's immersive storytelling properties will have you completing this 5-6 hour game in one fell swoop. Despite its brevity, completion of the game feels immensely rewarding.

Dubbed a "walking simulator," Firewatch’s gameplay is strongly geared towards exploration and story building narrative. You’re given an abundance of terrain to climb, hike, investigate, and explore along with a map of the grounds that you’re responsible for. Most of time, you’re being driven from one point of interest to another by Delilah, your supervisor and essential guide through the chapters of the story. While exploring, it's important that you pay attention to your surroundings and clues, as they will assist you further down the line. Meanwhile, the game's story progression is dynamic enough to steer away any feelings of confined linear gameplay by not demanding too much from you.

There aren’t many opportunities to interact with people other than with your supervisor Delilah, and even that is handled through the static of a handheld radio. Although this sounds like it would be crippling to the progress or quality of the story, the result is quite the opposite. The almost constant thoughtful and witty exchanges between yourself and Delilah coupled with some carefully orchestrated plot points make for a remarkably engaging story. These compelling developments will have you sitting on the edge of your seat as you take a ride on a rollercoaster of emotions.

Fire is best known for its uncontrollable ability to consume and destroy. Its wrath is indiscriminate and unforgiving, but following in the wake of its devastation is the opportunity for rebirth. It’s similar to the trials and tribulations of life in that sense. The way wildfires plague the hot and dry wilderness of the southwest are comparable to the moments in our lives when we find ourselves at our lowest. Firewatch confronts this unpredictability and the way people respond to various circumstances beyond their control in a manner that’s very real, and very human. This, in culmination with its immersive atmosphere and fully developed narrative, is what makes Firewatch so compelling.

Buy Firewatch on Steam.

For more awesome indie game reviews here at Indie Obscura be sure to check out our review for Hard Reset Redux, an overview of how to kill titans with a single arrow in our Titan Souls review, and our review for the unique RPG game Undertale!

Pros
  • Thought-provoking story
  • Gorgeous art aesthetic
  • Highly immersive gameplay
Cons
  • Somewhat short in duration