Like the flames that overwhelm the protagonist of Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue, there are many issues plaguing this Thunderful published game. Its repetitive nature, poorly implemented randomly generated levels, and annoying music all make this more of a chore than an exciting 2D platformer.
Initially, Firegirl makes a great first impression. The blend of the 2D sprites mixed in with the 3D backgrounds is gorgeous. The neon lights of the city around you really pop as you tackle the flames in front of you. The art designs of the fire monsters and Firegirl herself are well done and feature a lot of personality. Unfortunately, there is a point that you’ll get sick of seeing the fire major’s face everywhere as you’ll see his annoying grin every time a loading screen pops up (and you’ll see those often…). He talks to you throughout the game giving you notifications and words of advice.
Hacking and Splashing
Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash is a 2D platformer by nature mixed with tackling fires with your water pump. You contend with incoming enemies with your water, and when you extinguish them, they add more seconds to your time. Yes, you’re under a time limit, adding to the pressure of finding victims to be rescued. At first, it’s fun as you use your pump to lift you up in the air, but it gets tiresome quickly. The variety of enemies is lacking, and the levels themselves are underwhelming. What makes it worse is that it’s a randomly generated game. You’ll be faced with near-impossible jumps due to the placement of the fire covering the entire platform. Meanwhile, a pillar of fire is bursting on the other side. In addition, as you’re making your way up the level, a plume of fire can be thrown right at you at a moment’s notice, leaving you one less heart. Time and time again, I found myself losing due to this aspect of the game. It grows frustrating in moments.
But that’s not all. You are also limited in how much water pressure you have unless you find a source. It could be a small room with its pipes burst open or a power-up from the ground. However, these come few and far between, and more often than not, your water propulsion isn’t long enough to cover certain fires; for example, the platforms that are entirely covered in fire. More often than not, you’ll see the water power-ups disappear under rubble; when you destroy the mess, the water bottles fade away too, adding to the tedium. Having these power-ups and burst pipes appear more often would help the game drastically.
Randomly Generated Frustrations
In addition, the train levels suffer from poor platforming design that should have been learned from the NES era. To summarize quickly, you must save victims from a rushing train that’s on fire, and some of the carriages are separated by large gaps of track. When they’re far between, you need to use the propulsion of your hose to get to the other side. Unfortunately, the trajectory goes too high for you to see where the carriage is below you. This led to an unfortunate death. This is more likely due to the game being randomly generated and not designed by the developers themselves. Random generation is a tricky beast to get right. Games like Rogue Legacy and Hades does this right, but Firegirl needed more time in the oven. As some of the Steam reviewers suggest, maybe this game should have been released as Early Access, so the developer Dejima could tweak the system.
As you fail and are sent to the hospital over and over again, you are constantly tackled with loading screens. They’re only around 10 seconds each, but it gets annoying when you have to load to the results screen, and then load to the main hub (the fire station) after every level. I also can’t stand the major’s ugly grinning face over and over again.
Also, the music while charming at first, will drag you down. With only seven songs in the soundtrack, it constantly plays the same tunes. Some of them like “Cold Sweat” have some irritating MIDI’s that you’ll have to experience over and over again. The melodies are fine, but with such a limited amount of songs to hear throughout the whole game, Firegirl becomes even more repetitive. I ended up mercilessly turning down the music volume and instead put on the classic Street Fighter 2 soundtrack on Spotify. Ahhh, that’s better.
One of the few positives from Firegirl is how its progression works. After recruiting volunteers, you can buy new equipment to give your Firegirl better stats, improve your income, and get to the fire faster (thanks to a mechanic). Unfortunately, these perks aren’t impressive enough to reward the completion of repetitive level design.
Overall, Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue is a disappointing platformer from Dejima. The randomly generated elements are often a common irritant, and the overall game is repetitive in nature. It looks pretty, but there’s nothing more than that, unfortunately.
A review code was provided by the publisher.