Genre: Walking Simulator/Adventure
Developer: Campo Santo
When I finished Firewatch last year, I was left with feelings of despair and regret. The regret came from me not being able to spend more time in the lush, intricately-made environments made in the game. The despair stemmed from the thought that I would never be able to talk to Delilah again. Delilah: a friend, perhaps more than just a voice coming out from the radio that I was handed out when I entered the game as Henry.
Firewatch drops you into the game world with a simple premise: you're escaping your life after an unfortunate series of events that I'm not going to spoil for you. Just know that you're in for an emotional ride: one that you will not be able to comprehend after you're done playing. After I started replaying the game a week ago, I did everything that I had missed the last time around: found myself a pet turtle, explored a creepy little house with a raccoon, found well-hidden and brilliant secrets that lay buried in the woods. This isn't a game where you'll be plagued with objectives; in fact, there will be very few. The bulk of your activities will revolve around your radio conversations with Delilah, a fellow lookout. Everything that I loved about the game revolved around Delilah the first time around, and she was the reason that I pretty much rushed through the campaign. The dialogues are still some of the most beautifully written and realistic in my recent gaming memory, you'll rarely feel that it's not a real person talking to you in your solace among the rocks and trees of Shoshone Forest.
The way the map implemented in the game is something I've always liked: you're essentially deprived of an on-screen map in favour of one that you could take out from your pocket: just like in real life. It did take me a while to get re-used to this map, but it increases the immersion tenfold.
The intense storyline is often intercepted by well-timed jokes which breathe life into your day-to-day conversations with Delilah. The map, although fully explorable at any time, does require some items that you will need in your inventory in order to be able to pass, for example an axe that you will eventually receive that you'll use to cut down shrubs. Despite these minor technicalities, the game is largely your own personal little forest to explore. There are no puzzles, quick time events or bosses to fight. The artistic style of the game intentionally takes a cartoon-esque form, and it does go a long way in making sure that the game remains timeless in terms of graphical fidelity. The label of “Walking Simulator” does not do the game justice in any way, mostly because I not only walked; but I smiled, distressed, worried and perhaps most importantly, reflected on my wonderful journey. Firewatch for me would be far more than a game: it is therapeutic in its own right.