For awhile, we all thought we were being thrown into yet another survival sim; one where hours upon hours of wood must be chopped and rocks picked while crafting a cute house upon a hill that inevitably gets replaced with a much bigger house stacked with crafting tables, exploration spoils and a hole in the center that you made just to see how far down you can dig. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case with developer Campo Santo’s first person interactive adventure, Firewatch.
Firewatch follows the short journey of Harry, a partial every-man who has just gone through a major life event. His chance of recovering seems to be an ad in the local newspaper that requires new park rangers in his quiet secluded hometown. Harry sets off instantly for what he assumes will be some quiet R&R only to be thrust on the job instantly by his mountain-away boss, who stalks his every move from her own watchtower.
I honestly have never had much interest in interactive games that run on a linear rail track of “sit back and let the game play itself” intentions but I have to say that from the first twenty minutes, I was incredibly surprised at how well Firewatch presents its characters as likable, yet broken human beings that come off as rather convincing. Harry, through your input, can be molded through his past actions that change the story’s minor details just a little bit and through the choice of multiple dialog options, you can make him interact within the world as either a douche, a respectable human being, or something in between.
It’s funny to watch it play out, especially as you observe him clumsily puppet around the forests to do his job with little details of interactivity, such as cleaning up cans, stealing campers’ booze for later, and fondling undergarments.