Jane Ng
Feature

How Jane Ng turned the real world into Firewatch

This article is part of Issue 8.5, a digital zine available to Kill Screen’s print subscribers. Read more about it here and get a copy yourself by subscribing to our soon-to-be-relaunched print magazine. /// When an architect drafts a design, they dream big. And where there’s an architect, there’s a craftsman—the person who sits down to bring the concept to life. At San Francisco-based independent game studio Campo Santo, that craftsman is 13-year industry veteran Jane Ng. But instead of fully-realizing buildings, she realizes game art, most recently that of the impeccably stylized Firewatch. “I’m like the builder that comes in…

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News

Printable Firewatch maps add a new challenge to the game

With its 1989 setting and focus on exploring the wilderness of the American West, Firewatch recalls a time before cell phones and GPS were common tools among those looking for adventure. Before Siri, the best option most travelers had for finding out how to get somewhere was still the simple paper map, with no guiding voice or blinking “you are here” indicator to make reading it any easier. To make up for this, car passengers would often double as navigators, reading through maps to find directions and arguing with drivers about which route was best—the main thing that’s changed is that we now shout…

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News

Night in the Woods to unravel its angsty teen tale this fall

There are two types of stories we tend to tell in the Fall: scary stories, and stories aimed at winning awards. Night in the Woods wants to be both. First announced with a Kickstarter campaign on October 22, 2013, Night in the Woods was pitched as a clever sidescroller twist on the adventure game, which quickly attracted attention from eager fans as they helped it earn over $150,000 dollars beyond its set goal of $50,000. The project was also warmly received by critics, who dug its young-adult angst, muted woodsy environment, and light horror themes. Kill Screen’s own Davis Cox…

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Review

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…

firewatch
News

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
News

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
News

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…