BENGALURU : Gamers often disregard the existence of a game concept commonly referred to as a ‘Walking Simulator’. This is because there is no giant rulebook with control combinations, and gamers love the semblance of a challenge.
In Walking Simulators, we explore a neatly laid out universe and uncover its story by pointing and clicking at objects. The casual nature of the concept makes it a great starting point for beginners. Stuck somewhere between a book, a movie, and a videogame, it requests only the player’s attention. The question is – are they exciting enough to demand our attention?
I finally played Firewatch. It is the story of Henry’s 1989 summer adventure in the forests of Wyoming. To escape the gloominess of his life, Henry takes the lonely job of a forest fire lookout. A very foolish decision, since the forest is even more dull, with his only source of human contact being another forest lookout — Delilah. He talks to her over a handheld radio, as they cannot meet; they both survey distinct parts of the forest.
Hiking in the woodlands serves picturesque views, and makes for an eerie gameplay setting during nights. Gradually, strange happenings, and clues scattered along the map slowly reveal itself. We learn that Henry and Delilah are not alone in this dangerous forest. There is a secret. It is all very mysterious.
I am grateful for the success of Firewatch since it set ablaze the discourse and interest in this game genre. But Firewatch limits itself in its linear story. It pretends to offer us an open-world of story progression options, while not really impacting the story in a significant way. Decision-based consequences were moot from the very beginning, considering that Delilah and Henry had both already made their choices in life.
The game impresses the moral that escapism has its consequences, with Henry and Delilahfinding themselves forced to confront their decisions in life. The voices, the music, and the forest are all excellent actors. I recommend a playthrough of this game only because it is currently free on the Xbox Game Pass, and can be completed in a few hours.