Firewatch Review


Sierra Donis (she/her), Staff Writer

Firewatch, an indie-adventure narrative game developed and published by Campo Santo, and released in 2016 to Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC, shows the impact of dialogue as you delve deep into the Wyoming wilderness to uncover its secrets.   

You play as Henry, a middle-aged man looking to clear his head after tragedy strikes between him and his wife. He enlists to become a fire lookout (someone stationed in a tower to watch over large areas of forest for fires). That’s where he meets Delilah, another lookout working nearby. The game revolves around their relationship that evolves over walkie-talkies. But when problems begin to pop up, mysteries start to bubble to the surface. 

Firewatch stuns you with its depiction of Wyoming’s forests and scenery. The setting is nestled deep in the Shoshone National Forest, hiking through burnt-orange sunsets and radiant skies. The art department took no expense to create a beautiful environment of color and lighting, along with a great ambient soundtrack that can be relaxing or get your heart pumping in intense moments.  

Yet, the focal aspect of this game is the dynamic between Henry and Delilah. Perfected with witty and comedic conversations, backed with outstanding voice acting, Firewatch hits every target regarding dialogue. You, the player, build a connection with Henry and Delilah, as they narrate relatable and problematic lives that feel almost too human for a video game. When problems arise, and fear grabs hold of the two protagonists, the actions and emotions they convey are deadly similar to real people. 

Every conversation between the two characters is outstanding. You may find yourself scrounging for dialogue in any way possible. From obscure objects around the map to the random observations or thoughts Henry has. Their dynamic keeps you hooked, and you can’t get enough of it. 

The plot of Firewatch is generally out-shined by its writing, but still manages to be a good one. If there isn’t enough to love about it, the game fits into multiple genres, including horror/thriller. It’s not your typical idea of horror, but Firewatch will leave you at the edge of your seat with paranoia. The rustling in those bushes and the feeling that you’re not alone in those woods will make you uneasy. In Firewatch’s game description, it will not list horror in its genres, but the chilling environment proves that it can be. 

However, Firewatch does struggle in pacing at times. Its extremely short runtime of five to six hours makes the story go by rapidly. The plot picks up fast, then comes to an abrupt halt by ending the game with many unanswered questions. Firewatch left me wanting more, without giving me much to work with. 

Despite its faults, Firewatch is truly a masterpiece when it comes to the writing, and sets a high bar for future narrative games. While it lacks in pacing and runtime, it forgives by putting the player in awe with its touching characters and thrilling storyline with dialogue that is almost too realistic. In conclusion, Firewatch is nothing less than a spectacular narrative adventure with memorable characters that will leave an everlasting impression on its players.

Verdict: 9.5/10