It’s Getting Hot In Here

HIGH An appealing art style with neat background and lighting design.

LOW The randomly-generated levels hold back the quality of the platforming.

WTF How am I getting thousands of ‘fans?’ Am I streaming these dangerous rescue operations? Who’s filming this!?

A lot of work goes into making a videogame. An obvious statement, perhaps, but something often forgotten when people get around to actually playing and judging said games. While this inherent difficulty should not be used to excuse issues with a title — especially one that’s not free — it does give context and helps us to understand how these issues can arise.

Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue is a roguelike platformer developed by a two-person team, with combined 2D and 3D graphics.

The game follows a young woman as she fights an increasing number of raging fires plaguing her city. She follows in the steps of her father who died years ago fighting a similar pattern of fires, and as players go through the campaign more pieces of the story unfold, revealing what may be starting these blazing infernos.

The story is sparse but decent, though entirely serviceable for a roguelike. It even has some entertaining characters, such as the enigmatic fire chief always doling out missions, or the surly and secretive agent Nakamura. Where Firegirl falls apart, unfortunately, is the gameplay.

The bulk of the game takes place in randomly-generated levels, with Firegirl’s firehouse acting as a base where upgrades can be purchased between missions. On these missions, players will go through levels to find and rescue trapped people before attempting to escape the building before it collapses.

The moment-to-moment gameplay has a decent, simple structure. Besides a basic jump, players have a hose that can be used to put out fires and to jump higher/farther. There’s also an axe to remove obstacles like doors and wood piles. The implementation of these ideas, however, leaves much to be desired.

The axe is simply slow and uninteresting in application — the obstacles are nothing more than simple barriers to be removed — walk up to the obstacle, use the axe, continue. That’s it. However, the hose is the biggest disappointment.

This tool can act as a ranged weapon for fire/enemies and also as a sort of unwieldy jetpack. Attempting to fly with it can be difficult, especially at first, but that can also be seen as a trade-off and an intentional design choice since being able to hover over everything is powerful in a platformer. The hose has a limiting factor though — a pressure gauge, which decreases quickly with use. Refills can be found in levels, but the emphasis is on can, because the randomized level design means refills are inconsistent — they’re nowhere when needed, but will pop up at useless times, such as at the very beginning or end of a level.

This randomness causes problems on a more fundamental level as well. Generally, a good platformer relies on its level design since it hinges on the physical mechanics of performing the action. Unfortunately, I ran into multiple levels that were not able to be fully completed due to random object placement causing areas where damage had to be absorbed to pass through, leading to a death. Worse, one level started with a literally-impossible jump, causing another unavoidable death.

I can only assume the upside to randomly-generated levels is to encourage replayability through variety, but why would I want to keep playing if the randomness is what causes the game to suffer in the first place?

Firegirl is a title that offers a good premise and some appealing design ideas, but it simply fails to deliver a satisfying experience. With the right updates this game could improve drastically, but as it stands, it’s impossible to recommend.

Rating: 3.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Dejima and published by Thunderful Publishing. This game is available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 2 hours of play was devoted to the single-player mode. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: This game was Not Rated by the ESRB at time of review. The game contains simple, cartoonish graphics. This game deals with topics such as fires, natural disasters, and death.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. Sound is not required at any point for gameplay. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.

Mitch Z
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