Sunday, July 17, 2016

GAME REVIEW: "Firewatch" (Campo Santo, 2016)

Over the last two years, I've become more involved in gaming, and more interested in narrative design - how to tell a story in an interactive way, hopefully while giving the player a sense of control and agency (whether they have it or not).

As much as I love novels, it's a different experience writing for a reader who is sitting still, a reader committed to reading your story in order, from left to right, from page 1 to page 400. It's something different to tell a cohesive story to a player who will want to explore and run around and try as many different things as they can (or as the game will allow).

My exploration of interactive storytelling led me to the precious, independent gem that is Firewatch. I had such a profound narrative experience playing it, and I am in utter awe of how every aspect of this game came together perfectly to tell a riveting story.

The year is 1989, and you play Henry, a man recently hired as a summer fire lookout for a vast Wyoming forest. The job is isolating (the three-month gig involves sitting in a lookout tower and watching for fires), and that's just the way you like it. You're not exactly alone - your supervisor Delilah (who mans a nearby lookout tower) keeps in touch by radio.

But something's not quite right about this forest. The first day you start, someone breaks into your tower. The next day, some campers go missing. It's up to you (with the help of Delilah) to find out what's going on in the woods.

There's no combat in Firewatch. It's first and foremost an explorative narrative game - and every aspect of the game is specifically designed to contribute to the exquisite pacing, tone, and direction of the story.

The theme of Henry's isolation is conveyed through the pairing of a massive, wild environment (the gorgeously-designed forest) with a restricted gameplay perspective. Everything is viewed through Henry's first-person POV, and his interactions with Delilah (while extensive and beautifully acted) take place entirely on the radio. Ultimately, the only thing Henry can be completely sure of is himself, and the undercurrent of uncertainty creates a rising, visceral tug of suspense as the story proceeds.

But this isn't a horror game. There's also beauty, empathy, and a lot of humour as Henry and Delilah - connected only by walkie-talkie - rely on the anonymity of radio chatter to explore themselves and their own reasons for abandoning the world to spend a summer looking for smoke.

Some people would call Firewatch a "walking simulator" (since there's no fighting or puzzles or traditional active gameplay), but I find that label reductive. "Narrative Experience" is more fitting, if also a bit more vague. Regardless of how it's categorized, Firewatch is an outstanding example of visual, aural, environmental, and interactive storytelling.
A+

17 comments:

  1. Nice article. This is great adventure type game. I always like to play firewatch PC Game. Thanks For It.

    ReplyDelete
  2. But the filmmakers are not alone in their endeavors. They are assisted greatly by a game cast who are all committed to their roles, even the young 'uns. John Krasinski is pulling double duty as director and paterfamilias in the cast, constantly trying to figure out how to protect his family from an unbeatable menace. Watch Movies Happy death day

    Emily Blunt can do emotional intensity in her sleep and is particularly well cast here but it is newcomer Millicent Simmonds, as daughter Regan, that threatens to steal the show. Deaf in real life since infancy she brings a realism to the role that is difficult to imagine anybody else could have pulled. rampage film

    If there is something to gripe about is that the evil that terrorizes the family can seem generic and not much is offered in the way of explanation as to their origin but this is nitpicking and in no way detracts from the experience. the devil's candy review

    The movie is a master class in suspense, a taut thriller that tightens the tension to an almost unbearable degree all the way to its final scene. Hold off on the sodas, folks. You're not gonna want to take any bathrooms breaks for this one. watch Avengers Infinity War online free hd

    ReplyDelete
  3. Arrived super fast! New even with stickers for the games. Absolutely 100% New unopened just like the ad said. Great service!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for sharing the informative post. If you are looking the Linksys extender setup guidelines . so, we have a best technical expert for handlings your quires. for more information gets touch with us

    고스톱 전략

    ReplyDelete
  5. GREAT JOB! This blog presents a very valuable information. Keep up the good work! Visit our website too. Thanks!


    스포츠토토 배당률

    ReplyDelete
  6. You obviously know what you're talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening too read?

    한국야동

    ReplyDelete
  7. It was nice to be on the website here. I will come back often in the future. Good day

    메이저놀이터

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for sharing this information.
    Best Staffing company in Delhi NCR , Noida, Faridabad, Gurgaon, India is Apptians.
    Hire dedicated development team of Android developer, freelance ios experts, full stack web developer and best IT outsourcing team.
    Hire remote developers and contract programmers for dedicated react js developers, best react native experts , expert laravel developer ,php freelancers,codeigniter development company and IT Staff Augmentation Companies from Staffing Apptians.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow, what a nice blog. I have read it and really impressed by its writing.
    Meerahini is the best site to buy Jaipur Salwar Suits Online and Hand block Kurta sets. We have straight suit sets, anarkali suit sets, kurta and plazzo sets, and Sharara Sets. We have premium clothing collection of Rang and Utsav.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Will really appreciate the writer's choice for choosing this excellent article appropriate to my matter.
    Here is deep description about the article matter which helped me more

    Also visit my blog ::: 출장안마
    (jk)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for sharing this information

    Shop jewellery from Best Silver Jewellery Designer and Manufacturer in Jaipur , Buy jaipuri bangles online, rajasthani silver jewellery, Latest maang tikka designs, 925 silver earring, Best designer silver pendant necklace, silver kundan jewellery, marhaba jewellery925 silver jewellery wholesale jewellery manufacturers in jaipur is SilverMountain Jaipur.

    ReplyDelete