I've always wanted to explore the wilderness on my own, somewhere far away from the problems that weigh me down. Like Reese Witherspoon in Wild, I'd pack my bags and just take off on a journey towards self-discovery. It'll just be me and the calm stillness of nature; a break from reality that doesn't involve drugs or alcohol.
I have yet to go on said journey, but I experienced something close enough when I played Firewatch.
The game, released by developers Campo Santo on the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One earlier this year, is a lonely one. It is not something you play while others watch because that defeats its purpose. For a truly immersive experience, I recommend that this game be played during your "me time". Let me tell you why.
First off, Firewatch starts with an emotionally
heavy prologue. Set in 1989, you are Henry, a guy dealing with a wife who has
early onset dementia. To escape the pressures of your messed up life, you take
a summer job as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness.
Being a fire lookout is a solitary job. You are required to stay in a tower in the middle of a forest to watch out for fires. Apart from some insects and a cute little turtle you can adopt later in the game, you are completely and utterly alone.
is essentially, a walking simulator. Through Henry's eyes, you stroll through
the wilderness and rappel down steep mountain slopes while enjoying the
beautifully rendered sceneries. It feels like a dream, really. Forget about
completing objectives for a while and just take a moment to breathe it all in:
the plethora of picturesque vistas, from vast canyons to lakes bathed in the
*snaps back to reality*
Anyway! For a walking simulator, the game does make use of a few unique game mechanics. Unlike most video games where you have a map and radar by the side of the screen, Firewatch requires you to use an actual compass and map for directions. Exactly how an explorer would go about, you have to rely on these two items to keep from getting lost.
The other interesting feature is the ability to interact with a handheld radio that provides your only link to civilization - connecting you with the voice of your supervisor, Delilah. As soon as you reach that watchtower for the first time, you'll hear her nagging at you to pick up this useful device.
The game gives you conversational
options on how to reply to her. At the start, she may seem like a typical NPC
who gives you missions. But as you play through the game, your perception of
Since you're in the middle of the wild with no one else around, it's only natural that you would latch on to her voice like a baby yearning for its mother. Your dependency on her becomes more apparent in moments when she is not present; where there is complete radio silence.
It's ironic, don't you think? You escape to the wilderness to get away from everyone, only to hold on to that sole human connection you have.
While the game does involve
plot points that set the story in motion, it delves mostly on the relationship
between you and Delilah. Throughout the game, you will talk, laugh and cry with
this woman on the other end of the line. Depending on which replies you pick,
she can eventually become your friend and confidante.
As you stroll through the woods, you describe to her how breathtakingly beautiful it is to see rays of sunlight seeping through the trees. You will talk to her as if she were right there, walking by the stream beside you.
Without a doubt, you will fall in love with her. And this is where Firewatch challenges your moral compass. Remember your sick wife waiting for you back home? Would you be willing to pick the choices that would hint of something more than friendship with Delilah?
Gorgeous graphics are always nice but as you can tell, it's the writing of Firewatch that makes it memorable. Henry's story is the game; and it's a very good one at that. It deals with adult issues and emotions, both of which depict just how flawed humans can be.
Playing Firewatch is a means to forget the world, at least for a while. It gave me what I needed: an escape. Just as Henry escaped the burdens of his wife's condition by taking a summer job, I escaped the pressures of my own life by playing this game. I'm not saying that the things he did were justified, but the game shows that Henry, like everyone, is only human.
It was recently announced that Firewatch will beÂ turned into a movie. I'm not sure how they will pull it off but I hope the movie will give justice to such a beautiful game.
Chill Box is where we relax and talk about video games and films from the distant past. There are a lot of cool stuff out there that younger generations have yet to experience or hear about.