Firewatch Original Score
Firewatch Original Score
February 9, 2016
Download at Bandcamp
Early 2016 saw the release of a game that took many by surprise, Firewatch. It was a humble game that was set in the wilderness of Wyoming shortly after the Yellowstone Fires. This game not only surprised people for its gameplay, but also for its story, characterisation, and dialogue. Campo Santo used one of their own employees to skillfully write the music, Chris Remo. The artist has composed music for a few games to date such as Gone Home, Thirty Flights of Loving, and Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter. His very much reminiscent of Gone Home, in that it is very simple, polished and creates a story on its own.
The soundtrack for Firewatch is a very easy to listen to since there is lot of emotion in each track. Most of the early tracks are created with two instruments maximum to reflect the wilderness of the game. The large portion of the beginning of the soundtrack focused on acoustic instruments, for example a few layers of acoustic guitar. Others create a sense of singing songs around a campifire, with little more than a single voice and guitar. The track “Stay in Your Tower and Watch” is a great example of this. The track starts thinly, but builds as various layers of guitar work are added. This makes it sound , but also very full in it’s sound.
You’ll hear a very dramatic shift in the music as the soundtrack and game progress towards incorporating more inorganic sounds. These tones, while not electronic in the stereotypical sense, sound foreign to the acoustics featured earlier in the album. The track “Canyon Sunset” is where you can begin to hear the electronic side of the album begin to creep in. It starts with an acoustic guitar sound, but shortly thereafter electronic synthpads creep in. These electronic components grow more dominant as the game and soundtrack alike escalate towards their conclusion. This is done very effectively and is something that I much enjoyed about the album.
While whole sections of the album are dominated by either organic or inorganic sounds, these forces begin to combine once more with “Thorofare Hike”. It uses= the opposite formula of “Canyon Sunset” by reintroducing acoustic sounds into an otherwise electronically-oriented track. I think that the full album integration of both sounds really adds another layer to the presentation. The final track “Ol’ Shoshone” is a very nice track to finish out the album. Recorded to sound like it’s being played on an old cassette player, it’s a very simple vocal track with acoustic backing. It brings the soundtrack round full circle.
The soundtrack does have on flaw: it’s very short. The entire album can be listened to in just over thirty minutes. The short length of the soundtrack is fairly justified, given the game itself takes an average of about four hours to complete, but the album certainly leaves you more. Many of the tracks are quite underdeveloped (e.g. “Something’s Wrong”, “New Equipment”) and, while the ending track does a good job of closing the album, it does feel a little premature. The album is nevertheless reasonably priced at $6 on Bandcamp. For 40 cents more, you can get a couple of bonus tracks including the Campo Santo sea shanty.
Firewatch gained plenty of critical acclaim for its gameplay, but it deserved more for its soundtrack. The soundtrack blends various organic and inorganic sounds in a way that is satisfying to listen to at length. Much of the music is simple, but emotional and refined. The amount of content is a disappointment, but it is still good value for money. If you’re looking for a soundtrack that, for the most part is relaxing and easy to listen to, Firewatch has you covered.
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Posted on July 9, 2016 by Colby Bell. Last modified on July 9, 2016.