With spring, comes that wonderful weather we all enjoy so much. Trees are coming back to life, flowers are in bloom, wildlife starts to re-emerge. It’s a wonderful time of year. I am typically a hermit in the winter, preferring to stay warm, but a nice evening breeze in the summer is worth its weight in gold. Oh, to go out into the woods for a nice walk… I really enjoy that. I live in a really nice area of New Jersey; right across the street from my home is a park, there are woods, deer… it’s lovely. Not Wyoming lovely, but I’m not complaining. Wyoming must be very nice and going exploring the wilderness out there would be incredible. Sadly, I don’t get that many days off of work. However, with a good game, I might not need to take time off. To solve this little problem, I installed Firewatch.
Firewatch came out in early 2016 and was immediately something I was hearing a lot about. There’s a mystery in the wilderness of Wyoming. You play as a park ranger who stumbles upon the mystery. It starts simply enough: a fellow park ranger asks you to investigate illegal fireworks in the woods. Armed with a walkie-talkie, you head out to see what’s going on. First, fireworks, then missing teens, and evidence that you are being framed for something… the mystery thickens. The game is driven forward through the story as you share it with your fellow park ranger, back in her watch tower. It’s a clever way to propel the story forward using two actors, one of whom remains off-camera the whole time.
Developer Campo Santo offers us a simple game, which is as easy to learn as walking which is convenient because it’s listed as a “walking simulator” mostly because there are no crazy key-combinations, action movements, puzzles to solve, etc… none of the standard trappings of a “popular” games. No, this is just a walking tour of some beautifully rendered vistas drawing the player in with the combination of gorgeous scenery and a mystery that begs to be solved.
The experience is pleasant and, like reading a good (albeit short) book, you’ll want to get to the bottom of things. Interestingly, it’s not a science fiction game of any sort; it’s very real which makes it even more compelling. I picked the game up during a sale, dropping only $13.99 on it, but it typically retails for $19.99. I got 5 hours out of it. And believe me, I’m not complaining! I typically want more bang for buck, but the beauty of this game really gave it value. This is one of those games that keep you watching for the scenery alone. The fact that there’s an interesting mystery adds to it. It’s strange to say a game without action could be fun, but like so many other things in life, there’s a value in the casual, subtle things that do not lend themselves to easy explanations. They simply have to be experienced.
I decided that, rather than adding a bunch of pictures, I’d start letting the videos do the talking. Check out this trailer to get an idea of the beauty that is Firewatch. ML