Henry goes out fishing one day and finds a clipboard with detailed notes on the conversations he’s been having with Delilah. When he tries to return to his watchtower with the evidence that someone’s been spying on him, someone attacks him. Although Delilah doesn’t believe him at first, by the time she starts radioing around to other stations she’s so upset that no one takes her seriously. She ends up sending Henry to an area called Wapati Meadow, where someone has set up a chain-link fence for unknown purposes. Henry’s objective during this part of the game is to figure out how to get on the other side of the fence.
I started experiencing a bit of narroludic dissonance at this point. I mean, the fence is just a normal chain-link fence. It’s about eight feet tall; and, aside from a padlock on the gate, it’s completely unsecured. If Henry is the sort of dude who can sprint all the way up the stairs of his lookout tower, I don’t see how it would present a problem for him to just climb over the fence. Also, if he were to walk a few yards to the left of the gate, he could step over a three-foot rock formation and go around the edge of the fence. What he does instead is to hike south to the site of a controlled burn to ask a group of firefighters for help. They’re gone, but they’ve left a pulaski axe behind, which Henry uses to pry open the hinges of the gate.
This of course begs the question of why Henry didn’t have an axe at his station to begin with. The lack of anything he could use as a weapon could be a vital story clue, or it could just be the game devs fabricating a fetch quest for the player.
Ditto for the fence. One assumes that, if Henry really wanted to enter Wapati Meadow, he very easily could have. The fact that he doesn’t might indicate the fact that he doesn’t want to. He seems to be in denial about a number of things in his life, and he could be in a similar state of generalized denial concerning whatever’s going on around his watchtower. Henry’s employment with the firewatch service was an act of deliberate passivity, and it could be that he has no intention of being thrust into an active role now. It could be that he feels almost gratified that someone has been devoting so much attention to him and his friendship with Delilah, and that he unconsciously desires the situation to remain as it is. Or? It could just be the game devs fabricating a fetch quest for the player.
Once I started experiencing this dissonance, I started to worry about other things. Specifically, at this point in the game both Henry and Delilah make a series of very bad decisions. Is this supposed to demonstrate how psychologically damaged they both are, or how continued isolation impairs rational judgment? Or is it just the game devs fabricating fetch quests for the player?
Henry continues to move around during the early morning and the late afternoon, meaning that the dramatic light effects continue unabated. I was expecting something to change to signify a development in the story. Perhaps Henry would become more active at night, reflecting confusion or self-deception, or he would become more active during the day, reflecting increased clarity (or a false sense of increased clarity). But nope, everything is still all orange all the time.
Based on the PS4 Network trophies I’ve received, it seems I’m almost done with the game. I’m given to understand that people have been complaining about the ending, but hopefully it will shed some (bright orange) light on what’s been going on.
( Header image from the official Firewatch website )