Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue Review
Review Context: I enjoy playing rogue-lite games that don’t feel grindy.
Date of Playthrough: December 2021 Pre-Release
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-9700F CPU @ 3.00GHz
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER
Disclosure: This review is based off of a review copy provided for free.
Firegirl, developed by Dejima, is a game that caught my attention due to the concept of a young girl fighting fires in a 3D level environment. Firegirl is a rogue-lite game about a girl following the footsteps of her father to become a firefighter after his death. The story presentation doesn’t pull the heart strings like maybe it should be with this kind of game, but that’s because the game’s premise is more supernatural than realistic. Fires start popping up all over the city and you have to save people trapped, but also find out the origin and try to stop fires from popping up. Being very upfront here, I had a lot of issues reviewing this because of save files lost, but I got a good enough taste of the game flow to give my thoughts. I just don’t have all the time in the world to keep starting over and over after hours of lost play. That’s why this review is a bit shorter.
The rogue-lite experience in Firegirl consists of playing procedurally generated missions to rescue people trapped using your upgradeable hose and axe. Each survivor you rescue adds a new upgrade component, whether it be your health hearts, less cost for upgrades, more time for missions, and a bunch of others. You also gain fans when you rescue either a human or an animal. Those fans can also give you cash for mission accomplishments. Given that this is a rogue-lite experience, you’re expected to struggle and upgrade to advance further. One of the weirder aspects of this game is that you get a base amount of cash each mission from the City Hall fund that is both helpful and exploitable. Any time you die in a mission you lose cash from a hospital visit, but if you leave your mission without dying a hospital visit can be averted.
I wasn’t thrilled with my rogue-lite experience largely due to the the lack of mission structure. The game’s missions are procedurally generated each time you enter your firetruck in your firehouse, meaning there is no mission overview map anywhere. but the story does move along. A static level experience with a better progression system would make this so much better. Instead, I found myself playing the same level multiple times over and over struggling with the hitboxes and knockbacks of the fires and various fire enemies. The level design is actually not that bad, but the problems and randomness is everything in between. Any time you put out a fire you get one second on your mission clock, but gets disabled when you get down to a minute when the building is almost going to collapse. The survivors you rescue contain the various upgrades in your firehouse, so it’s beneficial to get survivors even if you think you might end up dying. This game design element is both unrealistic and helpful to the game experience to cure frustration. There are a lot of design decisions in Firegirl that make it hard to take seriously and give less motivational to keep playing. Playing the same levels over and over in the beginning is one of them. I should be clear in saying, yes, I know rogue-lite experiences always involve playing levels over and over again, but this one just feels a bit off.
Even with the faults of Firegirl, the controls using a controller are generally good. You can use your hose as a jetpack to climb higher floors and the analog directional controls for shooting the hose feel smooth. You do have a water tank that needs to be filled after a while, and that’s one of the more minor frustrations that can easily be tweaked in the future. The controls never feel cumbersome switching between your hose and axe. That’s why I’m so disappointed with how this game was put together because the key mechanics of the game do actually work well. The game’s soundtrack and shadow lighting when going through the house is also good. Firegirl is a game with a lot of good ingredients, except it plays like it was baked too fast without a strong game flow. In fairness, the game is being patched and improved upon after release, but too little too late for my experience. This should have released through Steam Early Access first.
Similar Games Liked:
Vessel (PC) (for the water mechanics)