Campo Santos Games’ Firewatch was deemed as one of 2015’s most anticipated games despite not much being known about the game at the time. And even though some concern arose when the game was delayed into 2016, Firewatch turned out to be a surprisingly compelling mystery that is equal parts suspenseful, minimalist, and gorgeous.
Firewatch also found unique ways to surprise beyond its basic mechanics and story, like a cool camera-based feature that’s unique to the PC version. While some games have offered an in-game camera before, Firewatch takes things a step further by letting players physically develop, print out, and buy real versions of their in-game photos for a fee.
According to Firewatch‘s publisher Panic, who helped freshman developer Campo Santo Games get the project to the masses, the photo feature began as an off-hand idea that gradually began gaining momentum.
“Steven, the other co-founder here at Panic, offhandedly says ‘Man, what if you could print out your disposable camera photos somehow’, and, well, here we are. When there’s an idea that immediately excites us both — like the idea behind Firewatch in the first place — it’s hard to stop us from doing it.”
“We began building the photo-sharing server and researching printers, Campo started work on their end with saving and uploading the photos out of Unity and building the UI necessary for that, we put everything together, and it turned out pretty cool,”
It’s worth mentioning, though, that Firewatch‘s photo feature is currently only available for the PC version of the game. However, that that could possibly change:
“Because Firewatch Photos is a network service, and consoles need to be extra vigilant about network access in console titles, we shipped on PC/Mac first for simplicity and speed,” Sasser told Polygon. “We are actively investigating what it would take to make this happen on the PlayStation 4. Sony wants it and so do we!”
In a marketplace where indie games struggle to set themselves apart from large AAA titles, Firewatch has done an admirable job at delivering something that’s unique and fresh. When Firewatch was announced by independent developer Campo Santo Games in 2013, no one knew what to expect. Although the game was the first from Campo Santo and the company itself was relatively new, the development team was comprised of a number of veteran indie game developers who have worked on titles for Telltale Games and 2K Marin.
Based on the pedigree of the individual Campo Santo team members, there was promise for Firewatch. And then the mysterious yet beautiful launch trailer stirred up anticipation and overwhelming PlayStation 4 fan support, to the point the developers greenlit development on a PlayStation 4 version of Firewatch.
With its unique take on the mystery genre, the masterful blend of story-telling and stunning visuals, and its unique photo feature, it’s pretty safe to say that Firewatch has lived up to its promise and there will be waves of fan support behind any future projects Campo Santo has lined up. While it’s too early to determine how successful the game will ultimately be, there is little doubt that Firewatch has made a strong case as an early contender for Game of the Year.
Firewatch is set for release on February 9 for PlayStation 4 and PC.