Firewatch Review

It has been years since a game captured me this emotionally and intellectually. Probably not since the legendary (and perfect) Journey has a game so successfully conveyed emotion, story, and character.

Still not convinced you should check it out? How about this? It’s a choose-your-own-adventure story, with gorgeous graphics, music, and fantastically talented voice actors.

Here’s the trailer. For me, this was all I needed. If you want to read about my thoughts on the game (no spoilers!), I’ll do that below.

It’s hard to describe Firewatch, only because it’s so unlike other games. Here’s how Campo Santo, the developers, describe it:

Firewatch is a mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness, where your only emotional lifeline is the person on the other end of a handheld radio.

That’s all true, but belies the true depth and beauty of the game. I like my tag in the intro: it’s a choose-your-own-adventure story, part mystery, part exploration, part character study. It is perfectly paced and beautifully made. Just check out the trailer for that.

I won’t, however, talk at all about the plot or even the characters. It was so fun discovering both, I won’t take that from you despite how much I want to talk about it. I will say that in the era of overblown stereotypes (if there are characters at all to speak of), accomplishing this much with just clever writing and game design is masterful.

Then there’s the music, a minimalist masterpiece by Chris Remo that you can buy (and I have) on the developer’s Bandcamp page. It sets the mood perfectly, is never intrusive, and highlights and elevates key moments like the best movie scores do.

I’m concerned that I’m overselling this game, but it’s just been such a long time since I’ve enjoyed a game this much, I want everyone else to check it out too. So forget all my hyperbole. Go into it like a friend told you “hey, check out this cool game” and let’s leave it at that.

Or to put it another way, if you think you might like to play the game shown in the trailer above, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Plus, it’s only $20.

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