Taking On The Backlog: Firewatch

For many of us, backlogs are a real and terrifying element to being a gamer. My weakness seems to be the bi-annual Steam sales which drop most games to ridiculous prices that I just can’t pass on. Sadly, I don’t have nearly as much time as I once did to game, meaning that a lot of these purchases get put on the back burner. Eventually, these games form a big pile lovingly known as the backlog.

With the summer months in full swing and without many major releases to occupy my time, I’ve been able to slowly chip away at that pile of games I’ve been meaning to play. I figured I’d update you all on what I thought of some of them along the way. Today, we’re taking a look at Campo Santo’s first title, Firewatch.

Firewatch wasn’t a game I had been following up to its release. Strong word of mouth and positive reviews put it on my radar and after seeing it deeply discounted on Steam, I decided to pull the trigger. A year and a half later, I’m finally getting to explore the Wyoming woods.

Going in, my knowledge of the game was fairly limited outside of the fact that you’re basically alone in a forest speaking to one of the other rangers as well. Plus, the art style was vibrant and gorgeous, headed up by Olly Moss.

What surprised me about this game is how it starts. You’re not some random ranger guy out in the woods. The game sets up this surprisingly gut punching story, which I won’t spoil here. I was taken by surprise at the set up and decision making you’re given for Henry’s background. There’s a definite reason he takes on this summer job of being a fire lookout in Wyoming, a moment to flee his problems and get away from it all.

Before long, he gets a call from Delilah, a fellow ranger and his supervisor working at a nearby tower. She’s basically his lifeline and only contact out here. Henry’s pretty guarded at first, but before long, the relationship evolves into a friendship even though the two have never met face to face. The writing, voice acting, and story are all top notch here, I found myself becoming quickly invested in these two characters and seeing how this whole thing plays out.

That’s Firewatch’s greatest trick. It wants you to become invested in Henry, his struggles, and his evolving relationship with Delilah. It feels like the actual gameplay moments, where Henry goes off on a task such as investigating missing campers, going for supplies, or other basic tasks, to push the narrative forward. It’s fun exploring the world and seeing how visually interesting it is, but in the end, it’s not why I want to play.

I’m only two hours in, but I’m pretty invested in it. Like I mentioned, if you’re looking for a lengthy game or something with compelling gameplay, Firewatch probably won’t scratch that itch. It’s not really a walking simulator, but on some level, it kind of is…with a compelling story and an overarching mystery to solve. If you want to experience a gorgeous game with a memorable narrative, then I believe Firewatch is worth it. I’m hoping the game holds up in the couple hours I have left, I’m eager to see how this story continues to evolve.

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2 Responses to Taking On The Backlog: Firewatch

  1. GamingPicks says:

    One of my favorite games of past year and I also played it knowing almost nothing about it. I know many find the ending “controversial” but I find that it makes sense. And the conversations between Henry and Deliah (excellent acting) are probably the hightlight of the game. Nice post!

    • Thanks!

      Yeah, the story has really pulled me in, thanks in large part to the beautiful landscape and the acting efforts of Henry and Delilah. I’m kinda sad my time with it is coming to a close so quickly. I might have to check out the developer commentary mode as well.

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