Firewatch definitely a solo experience but well worth it

By Chris Hayes - Game review

Published 20/02/2016 | 00:00

Firewatch is most definitely a solo experience, and one that requires intense concentration.
Firewatch is most definitely a solo experience, and one that requires intense concentration.

It wouldn't be inacurate to compare the experience of playing Firewatch with that of reading a good book.

Making your way though this dense, superbly written adventure feels like your most beloved page-turner wrapped up in an interactive world.

As the player, you view your surroundings from the third person. Visually, the game is stunning. Orange pastel hues dominate, with the wonderfully flat aesthetic acting as a diffuse filter for the shimmering sunlight and the eerie moonlight.

The way the developers have structured the title, with time moving forward erratically in leaps of several days or weeks has resulted in a pleasingly varied cycle through the times of the day. This can give the game the impression of being anything from warm and inviting in the fading afternoon sun to oppressive and eerie in the dead of night.

First and foremost, however, Firewatch is the story of Henry, a wonderfully bright yet flawed character who acts as the main driving force throughout the game.

You are tasked with maintaining a forest watch station in the late 1980's, looking out for forest fires during a particularly hot summer in Wyoming. Via a walkie-talkie, Henry communicates with his supervisor Delilah, who oversees him from her distant mountaintop station.

While following Delilah's instructions, you will hike, jump over felled trees, investigate clouds of smokes, or some kids letting off fireworks. Mostly, you will report back to Delilah using complex dialogue trees, showcasing some of the best, and most engaging dialogue, writing and voice acting I've ever actually encountered in a video game.

When a game throws up as few real challenges as Firewatch does, it really needs something huge to see it through and this manifests itself clearly in the relationship between Henry and Delilah.

With your walkie-talkie to hand, you can prompt Delilah for her opinion on virtually anything in the gameworld and it is in this way that you mostly see how flawed yet engaging these two characters really are.

Firewatch is most definitely a solo experience, and one that requires intense concentration.

It does not quite tie-in with the idea of conventional video-gaming but it is an experience worth taken for anyone with five hours to spare. A terrific release.

9/10

Firewatch

PS4 / PC

Wexford People

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