[english translation of: Firewatch Original Score, Videospiel-Soundtrack: Klänge der Abgeschiedenheit]
Campo Santo’s indie debut Firewatch releases the player into an exciting short story about escapism and the relationship between man and loneliness. Composer, designer and writer Chris Remo created the wonderful and essential OST.
Into the wilderness
Firewatch begins with an interactive disclosure of protagonist Henry’s backstory. After his wife Julia is already in middle age, a steadily worsening Alzheimer’s disease is detected. When he can no longer cope with the domiciliary care of his spouse, he finally decides to accept the help of his parents-in-law. Julia now lives with her family in Australia. In order to escape from his old, lost life, Henry decides to accept a position as a firewatch member for the Shoshone National Forest. After his arrival and a long hike through the wilderness, he reaches his new home late at night, an observation tower amidst the protected forests of Wyoming. Exhausted, he receives a surprising radio message. It is his new boss Delilah, who from now on will support him in the unfamiliar environment by walky-talky. However, Henry is not waiting for a holiday in the countryside. For what he does not know at this time is that this seclusion holds both secrets and dangers.
As noted, Chris Remo was responsible for the soundtrack of Firewatch. He is probably familiar for a lot of gamers who recall the American scene podcast Idle Thumbs or even from his time as an entertainment journalist. As a musician he became known, through his viral comedy hit Space Asshole (2014), which refers to the game Red Faction: Guerilla. In addition to being active as a writer and designer in the video game industry, he has been working on some serious compositions for successful titles since 2009, such as Drawn To Life and Gone Home. Especially the sound of Gone Homes OST showed for the first time this clear signature of Remo, somehow spherical, but intimate alike. A manifestation of one’s own emotional world, which projects itself in the appearance of a sonic image onto everything that surrounds the player.
Firewatch’s Original Score brings together many elements that Remo had already established in previous projects. Audible parallels between the tracks Prologue (Firewatch) and Default Friends / Ship Date (Gone Home) plus Stay in Your Tower and Watch (Firewatch) and Dink’s Song (Fare The Well) from the movie soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis (where he proved his qualities as a singer-songwriter with country and folk credits) can be noticed. At this point, the acoustic song Ol`Shoshone should be mentioned, which is to be found in Firewatch as Achievement and was also sung by Remo. Without his empathetic yet exciting OST, the game experience that I had during my first walkthrough at the Shoshone National Forest would not have been the same. Where both the characters and the circumstances raised too many or too few questions, the synthetic beats and folksy guitar sounds built on each other and provided the necessary emotional depth. They were for me the element that connected the breathtaking scenery of the nature and the plot around the interpersonal relationships of the participating characters.
Sounds of solitude
Firewatch is a game that wants to be understood. If the player denies this fact, there is a great chance that he or she will sooner or later be bored with Henry’s search for meaning, or to get lost in dialogue with his counterpart Delilah and miss out on the very well-staged atmosphere. For at first glance the game seems to revolve solely around the exchange between the two. Certainly, the function of being silent in a walkthrough should necessarily be maxed out to experience a more profound undertone. Thereby, Chris Remo makes it easy to immerse in the world of Campo Santo’s critically acclaimed debut.
© featured image: Campo Santo