Publisher: Panic Studios
Developer: Campo Santo
Platforms: PS4, PC
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Firewatch is a first person adventure game being created by Campo Santo. The game has players set out to solve a mystery that takes place in the Wyoming wilderness. Campo Santo has a number of employees that worked on various titles like including Mark of the Ninja, Brutal Legend, The Cave and The Walking Dead: Season 1. The company is publishing the game in cooperation with Panic Studios. Firewatch is set to be released on February 9, 2016.
Firewatch is the first video game from Campo Santo, which is a San Francisco-based studio started by Jake Rodkin and Sean Vanaman, who were the creative leads of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead Season 1; Nels Anderson, the lead designer of Mark of the Ninja; and Olly Moss, an artist who has worked on a number of different well liked games. Chris Remo was hired and brought in to compose the score.
Development for Firewatch began with a single painting by Moss and then Jane Ng, lead environment artist at Campo Santo, was tasked with translating Moss’ key art into 3D environments while maintaining his particular look and feel in the game. Moss, who had previously been known primarily for his graphic design work, joined Vanaman and Rodkin to found Campo Santo after spending many years working on the periphery of game development. Moss has said that when he created the painting, he emulated National Park Service posters from the New Deal era in both color palette and iconography. Firewatch runs on the Unity game engine.
The game was announced in March of 2014 with a tentative release date of 2015. At GDC, the company displayed a public playtest away from the main building and game artist, Jane Ng, hosted a panel on the design and aesthetic of the game entitled The Art of Firewatch. In June 2015, the team put on a display at E3 and confirmed that they would be bringing the game to PlayStation 4 as the only console version. The game will also be brought to the Mac and PC. In mid-2015, the team pushed back the release date until February 9, 2016.
The developers have taken what they learned worked in other games and applied it to Firewatch. The walkie-talkie interaction in Firewatch is inspired by the dialog system from The Walking Dead. A good portion of the game is based on the lead developers’ growing up in rural Wyoming during the 1980’s and the team actually went on a camping trip in Yellowstone park in order to get a better feel for the environment for the title.
Firewatch follows the story of a volunteer fire lookout in the aftermath of the Yellowstone fires of 1988. Henry (voiced by Mad Men actor Rich Sommer) is a lookout in the Shoshone National Forest. The year is 1989 and the U.S. is scrambling to restore and restaff watch towers following one of the worst fires in Yellowstone National Park’s history, when drought and dangerously dry conditions resulted in fires that burned for months. Henry isn’t exactly the best or sharpest Ranger but he’s been on the job for three months when the game opens. The developers have said that Henry’s personal life is a bit of a mess and being a Ranger in this National Park is a way for him to escape that mess.
When he is out on patrol, Henry’s only point of human contact is his supervisor, Delilah. He talks to Delilah using a walkie talkie and the conversations go from downright flirty to the usual interactions you would expect between an employee and his boss. Eventually, as he is going about his rounds, he starts to notice “something” is amiss. The developers have been careful not to lay out exactly what kind of mystery players are trying to solve as Henry but it becomes rather obvious there is a need for him to be out there and that his connection with Delilah will become important as he goes further out and ends up more isolated. Before he gets into the main aspects of the story, and solving the mystery, he will do a number of other more mundane tasks that a Ranger has to deal with on an everyday basis.
One hands-off demo for Firewatch showed a mission where Henry leaves his tower to confront two skinny-dipping teens which aren’t hard to find. The teens leave a trail of clothes and trash in their wake, which players can choose to tidy up or leave behind. There are a number of different interactions that can be chosen in how Henry deals with the situation.
Players interact with Delilah via a handheld radio, and the game will often allow you to select your own response in the same manner as what players have seen in games put out by Telltale and Life is Strange. If you choose to not respond to Delilah as in those games, choosing not to say anything is a choice that could have repercussions as the story unfolds. “If you don’t respond to her, those choices you didn’t say are gone forever,” the developers said in one interview about the game. “That is a choice; you can’t just cycle back. All these things you say to her, you can’t take them back. All those things make a difference.”
What does set this game apart from others in the same style is that Firewatch doesn’t have branching paths or multiple endings, but its responses are a way to give players expressive freedom.
When it comes to the teens, Henry doesn’t even have to confront the pair if players so choose. He can lie to his supervisor and head home, or even take things to the extreme and bully the two before stealing their stuff.
There are two main characters: Henry who is the playable character and a park ranger and Delilah, who is his supervisor and is basically just a voice on the radio for the duration of the game. There are also a number of NPCs along the way that Henry will meet, such as a couple of teen skinnydippers. The full cast of characters in the game has not been divulged by the developers yet.
Note: This wiki will be updated once we have more information about the game