Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC, Linux, and Switch

Developer: @camposantoproductions

Firewatch allows its searing embers to glow brightly within its picturesque woodland landscape through a taut, tense, and personable narrative that beautifully accompanies its pedestrian walking pace.

WHAT I LIKED

+ “I came out here for a breath of fresh air and some adventure”. The story revolves around Henry, the husband to a wife suffering with Alzheimer’s, who takes a summer job as a ranger at a national forestry park. Through communications with “D”, stationed at a nearby watchtower, the two embrace a journey of reigniting passion, mystery and endearment. The sensational dialogue exchanges between both characters will keep you hooked until the very end, guessing the next suspicious plot detail as the central mystery progresses. Yet, underneath the compelling thriller, is a tale divulging in the human condition. Constantly relying on humour and empathy to develop Henry and his malnourishment for love.

+ Shoshone National Park looks absolutely gorgeous. Sprawling with dense woodlands, beautiful meadows, claustrophobic caves and glistening streams. Equipped with a map, compass and other necessary tools, Firewatch tests the player’s orienteering skills whilst providing a lush semi-open backdrop to explore. The additional Free Roam mode after the story’s completion adds to the vast beauty of the game world.

+ Whilst “walking simulators” generally last approximately 1-2 hours, Firewatch’s average playtime exceeds that by an extra hour. The bonus is that the story is so compelling that it’ll coerce the player into completing the game in one run. The branches of dialogue also result in multiple playthroughs utilising different conversational exchanges, therefore feeling fresh a second and/or third time.

+ Chris Remo, whom also designed and wrote Firewatch, gifts the National Park with a sensational score that both uplifts when necessary and produces tension during the more heated conversations. Truly capturing that Wyoming aesthetic, to which the tracks can be collected and play in the Free Roam mode too.

+ You can adopt a turtle, if you can find it…

WHAT I DISLIKED

The ending. Ahhhh. It was *so* close to nailing the accelerated tension that Firewatch had been building up to. Regrettably, the final day at Shoshone was underwhelming, with a reveal that just missed the mark by a nudge. It’s not necessarily the execution of the climax, but the artificial impact (or lack of…) it creates. Henry’s turbulent summer grinds to an immediate halt with no sense of reward for either the character or player, a stark contrast to the exceptional buildup.

VERDICT: 8/10

8/10 teenagers illegally lighting fireworks next to a lake…