Indie Game Firewatch is a Burning Success
Firewatch is a first-person adventure game that is centered on its dialogue. In its opening month, it sold almost a whopping 500,000 copies, bringing in around $10 million in revenue.
Say what?! I thought this was an indie game!
Well, it is. It was also the first game for both maker, Campo Santo and the Oregon, US-based publisher, Panic.
"Of course, we wanted to make the best possible game we could, but we also had made an investment we really hoped to recoup," Panic said in a statement. "How'd it go? Firewatch's budget, while huge for us, was modest for a game of its quality and scope, but we made our investment back in about one day."
Citing the 5 lakh sales figure, Cofounder Cabel Sasser added: "As an indie game, or heck, even as a "real" game, ok fine but not as a Call of Duty or Star Wars game, Firewatch can be considered a sales success."
The game had a bit of a frame rate issue on PS4 when it launched, but it was quickly fixed and didn't seem to stop the game from making an impact. Sasser said that developers "worked like crazy" finding every little detail that suggested a bug, and are still trying to improve its overall performance.
I am not a huge fan of getting lost, and I find it so easy to do in first person games, but I did not mind getting lost in Firewatch. It was filled with beautiful, vast scenery and coupled with a surprisingly fast-paced story line that kind of made me wish I had gotten lost more often.
Henry is our troubled protagonist; we follow him as he takes a summer job as a fire-spotter at a national park. It feels kind of like an isolation game, but with an open world feel. His only regular contact is his boss, Delilah, who tends to be flirty and very complicated. She radios him throughout the game from her lookout across the park. Thought to be alone, he and Delilah start to wonder just how alone they are, as strange and ominous events begin to occur.
The introductory text gives branching paths to choose from, revealing, to a degree, the reasons for his descent into the woods. Firewatch engages with you emotionally. With each time you speak to Delilah, you are given a set amount of time to choose a response. Depending on what you choose, you can either draw her closer or push her away.
The game pays close attention to these choices and changes your relationship with Delilah, giving Firewatch high replay value.
The graphics are well balanced between realistic and stylized, but that does come with a tax on your computer, but not to worry it still looks fantastic on lower settings. Now for the breakdown!
Gorgeous scenery and effective use of lighting highlights and shadows play well with the realistic/stylized graphics, making it more immersive.
Sharp writing and excellent vocals between our two primary characters. This helps keep us engaged in the story at a deep level than some other games.
The building tension of the game adds to the anticipation as mystery and conspiracy unfolds around Henry and Delilah.
The main storyline has a rather weak conclusion. I would recommend taking the time to enjoy the story and worry less about how fast you get there.
The game ends just as you finally get a proper grip on the world. What I mean by that is it is a very fast paced main story, and it doesn't give you enough time to figure out the world you are in before the end comes.
The animation stuttering that was initially an issue on the PS4, though they quickly fixed it.
Unfortunately, Firewatch does fall short, as its overall gameplay can be rather dull, and not may not appeal to the 'average' gamer.
You can beat the game in as little as 4 hours. For most that is just not long enough.
Overall, Firewatch is a great game that I would recommend to anyone who doesn't require a gun for their first-person gaming experience.
Cover Photo: Courtesy of Campo Santo/Panic