Sunset 2

Firewatch and the great American landscape

Steven Poole put it beautifully in his book Trigger Happy (2000): “the jewel in the crown of what videogames can offer is the aesthetic emotion of wonder… such videogames at their best build awe-inspiring spaces from immaterial light. They are cathedrals of fire.” Cathedrals of fire. Sit on that for a moment. I’m at my computer and the screen is burning, roaring with the light of the sun. Steven Poole’s got a point. Wonder is hardwired into the history of videogames. It’s there in the labyrinthine mazes of 1997’s Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. And it’s there in the sheened…


Play Firewatch for a breath of fresh air

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Firewatch (PS4, PC, Mac, Linux) CAMPO SANTO People say they go to videogames to escape. And they say they go to the wilderness for basically the same reason. To get lost in something bigger—something outside themselves. But wanting to be lost is one side of wanting to find another answer. Firewatch throws players into the existential crisis of protagonist Henry, a middle-aged man looking to restart his life as a park ranger in a national forest. Through lonely exploration and dialogue choices, the player shapes Henry. With only…


Firewatch: Come for the beauty, stay for the eeriness

Firewatch gets it. Beauty alone isn’t enough to carry an experience. There needs to be some grit, a bit of dirt, conflict even, to elevate a videogame (hell, any piece of art) from the whimsical to something more. I have a problem with 2009’s Flower and 2013’s Proteus precisely because there isn’t anything to offset that serene beauty, their new-age hokum. But in Firewatch, no matter how gorgeous that sunset or night sky is, there’s always a thick sense of dread. Something to unsettle you. Something to make you tense up. I’m not talking bump-in-the-night, Blair-Witch, voodoo nonsense either. Forget…


Firewatch shows off some Twin Peaks vibes ahead of its release

Twin Peaks. We all know it! We all love it! Even if we haven’t seen it, we know it’s a big deal! David Lynch and Mark Frost’s 1990-91 TV series has been a huge influence on videogames, from the obvious (2010’s Deadly Premonition) to … the fractionally less obvious (2015’s Life Is Strange). There’s so much to the show, so many veins to draw from: the unsettling surrealism, the amusing surrealism, the romantic swooning, the whole “dead girl” A-plot, the mystical Pacific Northwest vibe…it goes on and on. But the lattermost is what Campo Santo’s upcoming Firewatch is cheekily nodding to with this brief, gentle…


Campo Santo demonstrates how NOT to end an E3 trailer

Did you catch Firewatch‘s E3 trailer? Well, after some serene shots of the Wyoming national park—which will be the exploration game’s main setting—the trailer ends on a rather tense note. Some suspicious activity has spooked the park rangers, protagonist Henry and his walkie-talkie companion Delilah. Just as Henry realizes someone purposefully sabotaged their communication equipment, Delilah’s voice goes cold with fear on the radio. “Wait, you’re not in your tower?” she asks. No, says Henry. “Then who is?” The camera zooms in on his watch tower, where the lights remain on. This ending leaves viewers with thoughts of what potential…


There’s a tortoise in the new Firewatch trailer and it is everything

After over a year of teases, our tantalizing glimpses at Campo Santo’s Firewatch are finally getting more concrete, with the latest trailer hinting at a missing persons plot previously unspecified. Led by ex-Telltale, Lucasarts, and Irrational Games designers, Firewatch will focus on interpersonal relationships and atmosphere. As Henry, a new fire lookout in a wild Wyoming national park, you must (literally) learn the ropes on the job. Luckily, your seemingly trusty supervisor Delilah is just a walkie-talkie away, and more than willing to help out. In the new trailer, we see the relationship between Delilah and Henry blossom a bit more. Campo Santo previously…