Being on Firewatch
One little game that caught my attention this week was Firewatch. Not knowing it was released this week and being intrigued by the look of the game for a while now, I decided to put on my hiking shoes and give it a go.
You play the game as Henry, a guy well in his forties who signed up for a job as park ranger “to get away from something”. While you’re preparing to leave to your designated National Park you’re presented with some background history. While reading, you get to make some choices influencing the rest of the story. A nice, and quite emotional beginning of the game …
After you arrive in a nature reserve located in Wyoming, you soon get stationed at Twin Forks Lookout. Your job: be on firewatch. Once the first night has passed, the actual game begins. From your watch post on your first day, you’re instructed to check out some fireworks you see in the distance. You take your backpack and descend from your tower to do some scouting and handle the situation.
“you actually see your character holding the chart of the area accompanied by a compass”
What’s surprisingly fresh about this game is the absolute minimalistic user interface. When pulling out your map you actually see your character holding the chart of the area accompanied by a compass. You have to find the way yourself, and although the game isn’t that big and is mostly linear I shamefully got lost once in the beginning of the game. Not being a hero in orientation in real life, this is just lovely!
Now, you’re not completely alone on your journey. There’s some assistance in the game as well, although only by radio contact. You get your directives from your boss Delilah, and the dynamic how this is done is absolutely brilliant. You press and hold a button to pull out your radio. While doing this you select your dialog option. Then, once releasing the radio button again the message is sent. Feels natural immediately, and my gut tells me some other games will copy this feature as well.
Now, not everything is super positive about this game. I found the game’s performance a bit disappointing with regular framerate dips, especially when the auto save function is working. Reason, or so I heard, is that this game was developed on the Unity 3D engine, which is not yet optimised for consoles. Not that big of a deal, and nothing a good patch can fix …
“hiking trough the woods in solitude looks and feels absolutely breathtaking while giving you the feeling of being part of something bigger”
Nonetheless, Firewatch looks amazing! Be prepared for some super views on your patrols, cause hiking trough the woods in solitude looks and feels absolutely breathtaking while giving you the feeling of being part of something bigger. The sound is up to par as well with nice sound effects, a great soundtrack and top shelf voice acting making the dialogues really stand out. Indies these days are getting better and better, and that is something we all can applaud for!
I really enjoyed this game. Walking trough the wilderness is pictured perfectly and the game really gives you the feeling of patrolling through the woods. Story wise the game is a catcher as well, and though with a total length of only 3 to 4 hours this game is easy to recommend.