Whenever I hear that something has a "Twin Peaks" vibe I'm always curious to check it out. I would describe myself as a casual fan of gaming so I felt almost obligated to check out Firewatch when I read about the curious linkages it supposedly had to Twin Peaks. As a self described Twin Peaks Fanatic, I figured if Firewatch was anything like Twin Peaks, I'd no doubt love it. I decided to download Firewatch on my PS4 and figured for the price of $17.99 if I didn't like it, there wouldn't be a great loss. As it turned out, Firewatch surprised me in an unexpected way and turned out to be a very different and cool game.
(Spoilers below; don't read if you don't want to know what happens at the end)
In the game, you are Henry, played by Rich Sommer, some may him know as the unlikable Harry Crane from Mad Men. In Firewatch, Henry is a somewhat lost soul, whose decided to take a job for the Wyoming National Park Service in the summer of 1989 as a lookout. In said job, he spends most of his time alone in a secluded fire tower while keeping an eye out for fires and potential fire hazards. Henry's only connection to the outside world comes from conversations on a walkie talkie from his boss, Delilah, played by Cissy Jones. She resides at another watch tower on the other side of the forest and you never see her. Delilah is a bit of a flirt and depending on what answers you choose to give her along the way, you learn more about Henry's emotional state from their conversations.
In the beginning of Firewatch, you go through a series of questions that fill in Henry's backstory and you learn that his wife, Julia, was diagnosed with early Alzheimer's disease. Subsequently, Henry had to put her in a permanent care hospital at a young age and he seems to suffer from guilty feelings over that decision. Upon his arrival in Wyoming, Henry begins his summer of isolation and discovers some mysterious happenings within the forest. At the start of the summer, he encounters two teenage girls who set off fireworks and leave their trash all over the park. Later these girls go missing, which leaves Delilah and Henry concerned, since Henry was the last person to encounter them.
As the summer progresses, Henry and Delilah's walkie talkie chats become slightly more intimate and at the same time they grow suspicious that someone is listening in on their conversations. Delilah also talks somewhat often about a previous lookout who came to the park a few summers before with his son Brian, both of whom have since disappeared. As Henry searches the park on his daily hikes, he ultimately learns that poor Brian was left to die in a cave by his father when Henry finds the decayed body of the boy. Henry later learns that Brian's father is the one who was listening to him and Delilah and has been living as a hermit in the forest since Brian's death, which his father claims was only an accident. It also turns out the two girls who went missing actually just ran off and were discovered very much alive.
In the end, a controlled fire begins to burn wildly out of control and all the lookouts have to be evacuated from the park. Henry asks Delilah to wait for him at her tower so they can finally meet. However when he gets to her tower, Delilah is gone. He speaks to her one last time and she tells him she didn't want to meet, despite knowing that disappoints him, and advises him to go see his wife to make amends. In the final scene, Henry makes his way to the evacuation helicopter and the game ends.
The game itself is also on the short side, probably only about 6 hours in total. I thought it could have been extended a bit more and could have offered a few more missions around the park to draw it out. There is a large gap of time missing from the summer where you go from Day 9 to Day 77 with only a few hints of what happened in between. At first I thought that might be because Henry was imaging the whole thing or there would be some mystery to uncover, but that wasn't the case.
Overall I liked Firewatch, but ultimately didn't think it was much like Twin Peaks. Outside of being set in the woods and having a mysterious feel to it, Firewatch was truly in it's own universe. Henry and Delilah were kind of cute together, despite having a bit of a weak ending. Regardless I enjoyed Firewatch for it was and would rate it 8 out of 10 on a whole.
Enjoy this fan made clip below, which I think summarizes the ending well!