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Published February 24, 2016

Disclaimer: This article contains *SPOILERS*.  I recommend finish playing the game before continuing.  Otherwise, prepare for some in-game secrets or secrets within the game!

Every summer, I always tune into E3 announcements either through live stream or finding video clips for upcoming games and other exciting gaming news.  Then this trailer came on my screen:

The graphics absolutely stunned me.  The setting captured me because it was in nature, not some intergalactic or ancient cliche scene like usual.  It was here on Earth, in America, in a present setting (sort of). The gameplay is in first-person view, no weapons, just a radio, a map, and a compass.  It was different.  I could already figure it out that it’s story-based game with a couple of point-and-click interactions.  It was a breath of fresh (forest) air.

You’re Henry, a burly man around his late 30s, a simple man from Boulder, Colorado.  Life kept pushing you down in the last couple of years and it pushed you to the point that you needed some isolation. In the woods of Wyoming. Great.

It’s the summer of 1989 and you’re running away from your problems by signing up to be a Forest Ranger.  Your only form of contact is a two-way radio with your boss, Delilah.  She’s been on the job for 10 years and your report to her with all your findings of Mother Nature.

You get to know each other over the summer but a couple of strange things start happening.  You and Delilah work together throughout the whole summer to piece all of these things together.

It was set to be released on my birthday, so I felt this game was literally a present to me since it grabbed my attention so well.  Over time, I had the name in mind, but I didn’t do any type of research until a few weeks before February.  Watched the first few minutes of gameplay by PlayStation Access just to understand how the mechanics worked and fell in love with the game even more because of the dialogue between Henry and Delilah.  The only way to communicate with her is by radio and your navigation system is a map. Welcome to the 80’s!

There were a couple of times where I felt lost and I was constantly looking at my map but while you’re walking through the different routes, you enjoy the (virtual) natural scenery.  The colors of the sky when the sun sets or when you hear the splashes coming from the waterfall are beautifully designed.  Usually some music starts playing which gives you the indication that you’re on the right path.

While you’re out observing in the woods, a green radio icon will pop up letting you know you can call in Delilah for more info on certain items and scenes,  you are usually given a few options for a response.  Sometimes there’s a timer, but other times you only have one choice.  Your decision usually affects your future dialogue and gameplay which gave off that same dynamic if you’ve ever played The Walking Dead games.  There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s all about how you want Henry to react to the situation.

I did encounter some glitches like my compass disappearing out of my right hand, loading problems, and a slow frame rate at certain parts.  But these things didn’t take away from me enjoying the game.  However, there are some plot holes in the game which (do not make any sense) some doesn’t make any sense, like why did Ned set up the fake reports just to avoid getting caught?  Or what was the point of the missing girls?

Delilah greeting Henry via radio
Greeting Henry. via Tumblr:

Well, I’ve already started on my 2nd run with this game making different choices.  After making these new choices, I’ve already noticed the difference on how I’ve shaped Henry’s personality from the first time.  It’s like playing a different game.  While doing this 2nd run, I’m backtracking to a lot of easter eggs and routes that I missed. Like finding a turtle to be my new pet or the mysterious Hawk’s Nest tower.

Overall, this has to be one of the most interesting and visually pleasing games I’ve played in a while. It’s only $20 on PS4 or Steam. (I went with the bundle) I’ve got the bundle to get the dynamic Firewatch theme which (include soothing ambient sounds on the homes screen) the ambiance sounds is quite soothing when I have my PS4 on its home screen.

It deserves 4/5 bytes.

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