Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Preview: Great Balls of FIRE!
As a fan of all things indie, Firegirl: Hack n’ Splash Rescue had been a game I’ve been curious about. So when Thunderful and Dejima Games provided the opportunity to demo it ahead of the Steam Next Fest, I couldn’t resist. Now normally I play games to avoid reality. To jump on Goombas, blast Mavericks or cry in basements full of monsters. But I’m also very much a fan of beautiful indie artwork. And after seeing the visual style of Firegirl, I had to check it out.
The demo has you in control of the titular Firegirl. Your father perished doing this job, so you’re trying to honor him by following in his footsteps. Sure, it’s a dangerous job, but someone has to do it. That said, you have your work cut out for you. The beginning tutorial that teaches you the basics takes place in the Firehouse. Unfortunately, it’s literally on fire! So you’ll quickly learn to chop down doors and other obstructions and use your hose to blast flames out of your way. A more advanced technique you’ll rely on is shooting your stream of water downwards, blasting yourself to new heights. Sure, Firegirl probably learned this technique from Super Mario Sunshine, but it’s still a blast.
You can also glance upwards and downwards to get a hang of your surroundings, but I admit I didn’t use that technique overmuch. Mostly because the flames you’ll be fighting are ruthless and unpredictable. You may have noticed before how fire seems to be alive, but they take that to a whole other level here. I’d go so far as to say the fire is sentient, and it takes all sorts of unusual forms. It might turn into a fiery silhouette of a bat and fly towards you; some will march on two legs; others will even blast embers at you from a distance. So you’ll need to be aware of your surroundings at all times, and move quickly. Because you can only suffer 3 hits before you’re KO’ed, and fail your mission. Luckily, you can always try again later, unlike firefighting in real life.
Since Firegirl is an action roguelike, you’ll accumulate cash you can spend for upgrades. Every mission, even failed ones, will provide some cold hard cash. And the more often you rescue civilians or a stray cat, you’ll accumulate more fans. They throw a couple extra bucks your way, and the more of them, the more money that adds up to. Though if you keep failing, you’ll have the cost of your hospital bill deducted from your earnings.
As for the upgrades, those depend on who you’ve saved. Early on you save one kindhearted plumber who thanks you by offering to upgrade your hose and tank back at the Firehouse. Granted, those upgrades aren’t inexpensive, but they’re well worth it. I invested heavily in my tank first, making sure I could hold more water, and later boosted the efficiency of my hose. I didn’t have enough money for one key upgrade, which draws moisture from your surroundings, meaning you’ll never run out of water. And trust me, you will run out. Though you can occasionally find extra water in stages, you can’t rely on it. And since every stage in the demo has a short time limit of 3 minutes, you’ll need to move fast and spray carefully.
The good news is, every fire you put out provides a few more seconds on the clock. You can even find little clocks hidden away to add more. But in my time with the demo, I never had enough time to just loiter around. The game does a good job of instilling the urgency of firefighting in the game. Paired with great music and wonderful art, there’s a lot to enjoy. I just ran into some issues in the current build that held it back a little. One was that my hose blast, used to get up higher, sometimes gave me no extra air. Another was that whenever you burst through a door, the screen pans in such a way you can’t see what’s coming right at you. And more than once that was a sneaky little flame that burned me the moment I walked through. Also, the prompt to take a new mission didn’t always show up like normal. Otherwise I really enjoyed Firegirl.
If you want to see what the game is all about, I’d check out the demo now on Steam Next Fest. Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue is slated to release on PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Series X|S later this year. It’s a charming new indie that’s well worth your attention.