On the surface, Firegirl: Hack n’ Splash Rescue DX looks like yet another indie 2D platformer. Yes, you have a hose rather than fireball/gun/punching/whatever, but so what? You’ve played a million games just like this, right? Wrong. As this Firegirl: Hack n’ Splash Rescue DX review will reveal, this is a game that looks familiar, but dig deeper and there’s plenty of ingenuity to be found.
The game is built of a number of seemingly disparate mechanics that all build into something altogether special. Firstly, the levels are entirely 2D and require you to explore all available routes in order to rescue survivors from the burning building, runaway train, and more. The exploration is done by moving through the often multiple routes open to you, breaking down doors and shooting fire monsters. There’s also the Super Mario Sunshine inspired water jet move that can propel you skywards; so long as you have enough water pressure.
So now you understand the basics, we’re going to move onto the more interesting mechanics. To begin with, you only have three minutes to complete each level. That ‘completion’ doesn’t simply come from progressing from left to right and reaching the end, however. Instead, each level has a predetermined numbers or survivors for you to find. Only once you’ve found them all should you even think about heading for the exit. However, if you run short of time with just one saved, it’s a better result than none.
And that’s because for every survivor – or pet – you rescue you’ll grow your fans tally. Upon completion of each level – that’s full completion – your fans will give you a monetary donation. This, coupled with any money given by the city, will allow you to buy one of numerous upgrades.
These upgrades have a significant impact on your progression. They can grant you more water for each level, longer times for exploration, bigger cash bonuses on completion and more. Making the right investment can quickly speed up your progression in the game, and thus give you more opportunities to thoroughly explore each level.
And despite appearances, it’s this exploration that is consistently exciting. There may only be a handful of objectives in each level, but balancing the time and damage pressures with the need to find survivors can be thrilling. It’s almost closer to a metroidvania experience than a traditional platformer. And yet, even that is a poor classification for such a unique design.
In addition to the addictive gameplay loop, Firegirl: Hack n’ Splash Rescue DX looks fantastic. The 2D sprites against 3D backdrops pop with colour and life. The characters will remind you of classics like SimCity and Advance Wars. The story delivery is fairly humorous at times, if it occasionally tries a little too hard.
In case you hadn’t yet realised, this Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue DX review has only really scratched the surface. The game belies it’s friendly cartoon exterior with a great deal of depth. And yet, it delivers it through incremental steps so you never feel overwhelmed. There’s also something new to see, a new upgrade to save for or a new enemy to fight. Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue DX is the epitome of ‘just one more go’.