Firewatch SPOILER-FREE Review

I was running through the forest. I felt confused, anxious and scared. I knew it all was coming to an end, and I wasn't ready to leave the Wyoming wilderness. Eventually, I reached my destination, had a last conversation with Delilah, and soon after, the game was over. As the credits started to roll, “I'd Rather Go Blind” by Etta James began to play. While hearing the magnificent, soulful song and thinking about the ending, it finally dawned on me: I was heartbroken. The experience was over, and I had loved every second of it. Countless moments like this make Firewatch a marvelous video game I will never forget. When I get to review projects like this one, I remember why I do what I do. To be your friend, and to strongly advise you to buy this god damn piece of art.

So what is Firewatch all about? Well… I don't want to tell you. As I said, this is a spoiler free review. And a massive part of the game's charm is going in without knowing much. So I'll give you the simple description: it's a single-player first-person game set in the 1980’s. You play as Henry, a man who decides to escape his troubled existence by taking a job as a fire lookout. Your only human interaction is done through a walkie-talkie, as you speak with your boss, Delilah. It doesn't take long before you realize your summer job may not be as peaceful as it first seemed.

Back to the spoiler-free zone, let's talk about how gorgeous Firewatch is. Seriously, it is stunning. Unlike some of its contemporaries, its graphics are not meant to be one-hundred-percent realistic. Instead, developer Campo Santo had a vision for the art style, and it fully stuck with it. The vision? Let's make everything look prettier than it actually is. Skies seem like they were hand painted, trees are greener than they actually are, sunsets are redder than the one you see in real life and water is clear as crystal. The result is an overwhelming sense of euphoria. You feel like you're in another world. Maybe in paradise?

I was also surprised by how varied the scenery is. I expected the entire game to take place in the woodland. But you actually get to see multiple places like canyons, lakes and caves. They all look beautiful. On the other side, it's only fair to mention that I did encounter quite a bit of pop up (literally the only negative thing I have to say about the game). Nothing too significant, but some bushes would pop out of nowhere every now and then. Now, considering all the fauna that is being processed at once, it really isn't that big of a deal. Outside of that, presentation is flawless. And I'm not only talking about visuals. Audio is also amazing.

Without a doubt, the excellent use of audio is one of the reasons why Firewatch is so special. The crickets and owls in the night, the wind and birds in the day, the sound of trees smashing into the ground after being chopped down. It's all perfect, and with a quality set of headphones, you easily get immersed in the experience. After a couple of hours, I couldn't stop playing. I felt like I was the one wandering around the Shoshone National Forest. Let's return to the audio. I really enjoyed the way in which music was used. When I was feeling sad, a depressive instrumental would be played. When I was afraid, I would hear deep synthesizers that had me on the edge of my seat. And when I was feeling cheerful, some peaceful piano keys would fade in and out. It gave every action a deeper meaning, while increasing the intensity of each emotion. Of course, I have to talk about one of the stars of the show: the dialogue.

Seriously, Firewatch has some of the best dialogue I've ever seen in a video game. It's so natural and non scripted. The conversations between Henry and Delilah are constantly funny, sharp and insightful. You have different dialogue options, and your answers actually matter. When drawing you, the description you give Delilah will actually change the final drawing. A thick beard, a crocked nose. You decide. Small things like this make you feel like every sentence and every decision can potentially change the environment. And the voice acting is out of this universe. Therefore, the characters don't seem like goofy, cheesy, lifeless bodies. You feel like they're real people, and you deeply care about them. Player-character relationships like that are hard to come by.

There are so many other things Firewatch gets right, I could spend days talking about it.. Its fun mechanics, like the navigation being done with a compass and a map instead of a GPS. The unique, emotional storytelling. The fantastic plot that takes many twists and turns. And the ideal game length (it leaves you satisfied with what you got, while wishing it was an hour or two longer). Plus, it's super cheap!. There really aren't enough positive things I can say about this game. I utterly love it!

Verdict: Firewatch is a game about pain and joy. Loss and hope. Death and love. At it's core, it's a game about life. One that every gamer out there should absolutely try.

The Good
- Unique
- Breathtaking Visuals
- Wonderful Dialogue
- Fascinating Plot
- Fun

The Bad
- Minor Presentation Issues

I Give Firewatch a 9.3 out of 10

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