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21st Jun 2017

Firewatch is super-cheap on PlayStation 4 right now. Here’s why you should play it

It's even cheaper if you have PlayStation Plus

Rich Cooper

Like the greatest games, Firewatch holds your attention firmly in its grasp. You never want to put the controller down.

It’s not a high-action, thrill-a-minute experience; Firewatch burns slowly, from the warmth of a sunny day, to smouldering embers, to the smoke signals of something bigger than yourself. Every step of the way, Firewatch has you transfixed.

The game is described thus:

“The year is 1989. You are a man named Henry who has retreated from your messy life to work as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness. Perched high atop a mountain, it’s your job to look for smoke and keep the wilderness safe.

“An especially hot, dry summer has everyone on edge. Your supervisor, a woman named Delilah, is available to you at all times over a small, handheld radio—your only contact with the world you’ve left behind.

“But when something strange draws you out of your lookout tower and into the world, you’ll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have.”

Firewatch relies on three things to tell its story: your relationship with Delilah, the beauty of your surroundings and the way the game turns your surroundings against you.

As your only point of human contact, all the character development is through Henry’s conversations with Delilah. There’s a flirtatious hint of will-they won’t-they (though how they ‘will or won’t’ through a walkie-talkie is another matter), but as the story progresses, their relationship is key to understanding the unfolding mystery.

The design, almost cartoonish and strangely reminiscent of Team Fortress 2, is really beautiful. The Shoshone National Forest that you are charged with protecting is gorgeous, so peaceful and serene that you don’t mind the game’s ‘walking simulator’ tendencies.

But the feelings of peace and serenity slowly turn into trepidation and fear. Exploring the wilderness, Henry stumbles upon clues to the things that came before him, and the things happening around him. Then things start to happen to him, and that’s when your heart rate starts to rise. Trailing? Conspiracy? Paranoia? At moments in the game, it feels like all three at once.

It’s not a long game, lasting only about three or four hours, but Firewatch has a lasting impact. Few games turn the screws of tension by doing seemingly so little, and in such beautiful environments. Few games have established such a real and believable relationship between two characters that you not only never see, but never themselves meet.

The mechanics of the game are few; it’s not about solving puzzles or collecting 10 items to proceed. It’s a character-driven mystery, where the past and present, the professional and the personal grow ever intertwined, and if your heart isn’t racing as the conclusion nears, well, trust us. It will be.

Firewatch is currently £7.99 on the PlayStation Store (available until July 5), but you can get it for £5.74 if you have PlayStation Plus. We can assure you that this both an absolute bargain, and if you enjoy enthralling stories and beautiful settings, a game you’ll love from start to finish.


Video Games