The walking simulator has become a fairly divisive element of gaming, with many failing entirely to see the appeal. Firewatch, by Campo Santo, is such a spectacular success it should be shown to any dissenters as an example of what the genre is capable of delivering. To go a step further, it’s an example of how successful emotional storytelling in gaming can be.
Set in an incredibly beautiful stylised depiction of the Shoshone Nation Park in the late 80’s, you play as Henry, who has taken the job as a fire lookout to avoid a situation occurring in his life. The story takes twists and turns throughout, playing with your emotions, touching on love, loss, separation, and mystery, with several interlocking elements playing into the main arc. It’s masterfully done and beautifully paced.
Whilst the circa-6 hour run time has been criticised by some, to me it was a perfect length for that type of game and story. It was something that my partner and I would kick back and play together after work, and then afterwards discuss what happened.
Firewatch is an incredible debut by Campo Santo, and I can’t wait to see what they deliver next.