The Nintendo Switch Made Playing Firewatch Feel More Personal


I originally played Campo Santo’s Firewatch on my trusty PS4 when the game released back in 2016. For the most part, I fell in love with Firewatch and wasn’t at all bothered by the divisive twist ending that seemed to upset a number of players (and even some games critics).

I recently decided that, since years had passed since last I played Firewatch, it was good a time to give it a much-deserved second playthrough. This time, however, I was playing it on my Nintendo Switch.


The introductory portion of the game’s story, where you take part in a sort of Q&A rundown of Henry’s relationship with his soon-to-be-debilitated wife, hit me quite hard the first time I played the game. However, I found it more impactful now, even though I knew all of the beats.

And for the life of me, I couldn’t quite figure out why. Not initially, at least. Yes, it is a somewhat truncated emotional highlight reel that hits you fast and hard, but, like I said, I’d seen it all before. And although I did choose a few alternate answers or paths, it was still very much the same affair by design.


It wasn’t until the game went into a rather long, blacked-out loading screen that it suddenly hit me, I was feeling a bit more invested because, since I was playing in handheld mode, I could literally see my face between text options.

As a byproduct of the Switch’s design — and my propensity to play handheld games with the screen practically pressed up to my mug — I could see my visage after each choice and, in real time, reflect on my personal image of myself as Henry. It was like some Charlie Kaufman-type head-trip stuff.

Of course, once I noticed what was happening, the magic started to wear off. Plus the rest of the game in general just isn’t as impactful as that opening.

But for those few fleeting moments, the Switch version of Firewatch evoked a myriad of feelings that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have experienced, simply because I could actively see my reactions in real time while also literally judging myself based on my in-game decisions.

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