Welcome to my first article on a videogame! The category selection wasn’t that hard. First person adventures are currently my favourite type of game. I hate to generalize but, to be clear, this category is also known as “walking simulator”.
Firewatch has been developed by Campo Santo, a small video game studio based in San Francisco, who recently won two Bafta awards and obtained six nominations, including Best Game of the year.
There are several aspects of the game that captured my attention since the beginning: the coloured atmosphere that reminds the freshness of the summer or the warm shades of a sunset; a forest as a screenplay, the quiet and mysterious sounds of nature.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Boulder, Colorado 1975. We step into Henry’s shoes, 39-year-old man, lonely, who’s trying to escape from a severe ill wife and find a way to feel free again.
The adventure takes place in the “Two Forks” control tower. Here, through a walkie talkie, Henry comes into contact for the first time with Delilah. The notes of a sweet and gentle female voice drive Henry into his new ranger job.
The exciting relationship between the two protagonists will lead our journey into the forest. The mysteries to solve are engaging and never boring but, the curiosity to know more about the evolution between Delilah and Henry, will take over during all the game.
A feature that I particular appreciated is the ability to take pictures with an old style instant camera. The only problem is that, for saving these photos, you need to take and in-game screenshot that will automatically save it to your console library.
As a negative note, the PS4 version severely ruins the game experience due to performance issues. Several times I’ve been experiencing FPS drops during automatic savings, while climbing, and while approaching graphic elements such as plants or rocks.
In general, I found really nice getting lost in lakes, caves and trees. The mountain scenario is one of my favourite, especially in real life. I felt a series of opposite emotions during my journey, moments of calm contrasted to anxious instants. Delilah’s voice presence or absence is the most powerful emotional aspect ever that alternate the mood of the scene.
Another strong aspect is the camera which the player experience in first person. During each camera rotation I’ve felt nervous, a sensation that is comparable to those horror movies that cause pervasive anxiety and you don’t know what to expect next. This permanent feeling is highlighted by the brilliant soundtrack made by Chris Remo, composer of Gone Home.
My journey with Henry has been intense and positive, I was just a little disappointed for the technical problems on PS4 (If you’re planning to buy it, I highly recommend the PC or Xbox One version).
The ending left me puzzled. Maybe I would have rather preferred a different conclusion or maybe not.
The best memory that I will certainly bring with me is the excellent act of Cissy Jones, Delilah’s voice, who won a Bafta for the Best Vocal Performance this year.
+ Brilliant plot
+ Relaxing and intriguing setting
+ Good longevity balance, appropriate for this kind of game (3h)
+ Great performance of both protagonists
– Serious performance issues throughout the course
– The ending may be disappointing for somebody