By Kieran Webber
Firewatch is a game that has been on my radar for a while, on several occasions I have found myself on the store page of Steam drifting towards the much talked-about game. The summer sale acted as the perfect excuse to purchase the game and out of all the games I bought this summer sale I must say, Firewatch is arguably my favourite.
Set in the 1980s, it casts the player as Henry, a 40-something man from Colorado looking to escape (for reasons we won’t reveal) by spending a summer watching for fires in Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming.
The game starts completely chill, you are given somewhat of a back story regarding your past then thrown into the beautiful wilderness where flowing streams, shimmering greenery and nature take control. Some could argue the beginning is slow, dull and boring and they would be right to do so, but it helps set the tone for what is unveiled later on. The slow beginning gives you time to take in the game’s ambient tranquillity; you are utterly alone in this area of natural beauty – apart from your supervisor Delilah who is stationed in a tower of her own – and is only contactable via your talk radio.
This peacefulness is soon swapped with fear, worry and paranoia after an encounter with a shadowy figure. From this encounter the game throws you into a spiral of paranoia – every turn you are convinced you are being watched, every noise spooks you. There are few games that can create an atmosphere that one could experience in real life, truly, I felt at times so wrapped in the game that the characters feelings and emotions were leaking out of the screen and into my very body.
Your adventure goes from fun, peaceful and carefree and turns into a nightmare you and your character Henry both want out of. All of a sudden the beauty is tainted, the emptiness of the woods becomes haunting and your only friend is a woman on the other end of the line.
Her voice comes as a sweet release, a reminder that you are not alone in this eerie woodland but truth is you are.
The game is short-lived, you can complete it in a day with ease but it will be one of the most rewarding gaming experiences you have. There are few games that can capture the spiralling of paranoia in such a way that is subtle yet the forefront of the game. Your surroundings are beautiful and the art style is similar to the likes of telltale but with a more refined edge.
It is an eerie adventure into the life of Henry that takes you on an emotional roller-coaster. 8/10.