Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue

It always feels like a bit of a cheat to have one of the last games you play for the year end up on your list of best games for said year. But when that game is so addictive, fun, and rewarding that it dominates your holiday break, that game’s impact and quality simply can’t be denied.

Although I played and completed way more games in 2021 than 2020 and 2019 combined, I would be remiss if I didn’t add Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue to my list of 2021’s best games (though I have yet to formally finish it). 

Simply put, Firegirl is the epitome of “just one more run” gameplay. You know the type: When you’ve already spent a couple hours glued to the screen and know you should call it quits, but you’re so close to being able to afford another upgrade, or you just want to test out the upgrade you finally purchased, only to find yourself yet another hour deep with the sun due to come up soon? That type of game. I have spent numerous late-nights sessions — or just small, daytime sessions while I’m cooking or waiting for water to boil — which have just breezed by in my attempt to fight raging infernos, rescue hapless citizens, and make fat stacks of moolah. 

Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue

Firegirl is the closest thing to a surprise total package that I’ve played in a long time, probably since the similarly addictive and vibrant (but also slightly obtuse) Neon Abyss. Although I was hyped when I saw Firegirl back during E3, I really didn’t expect it to have as big of an impact on me as it ultimately did. Yes, the gameplay is fun, responsive, and completely addictive, but the visual art style is just as incredibly delivered.

And that soundtrack… Good lord, don’t even get me started on the soundtrack. I can’t remember the last time I found myself randomly humming a game’s main menu theme randomly throughout the day — but that happened with Firegirl’s. And the music for the forest level is just so good. Don’t believe me? Take a listen:

It’s really hard to go on without sounding like a broken record here, but Firegirl is firing on almost all cylinders, with my only real gripe being that it’s a little opaque as far as how to progress the narrative, in as much as there is one. As a result, it can get a little repetitive going out on mission after mission that all just seem like rogue-lite levels with no concrete, overarching narrative or focused story. But, considering how much enjoyment I’ve gotten thus far simply by mostly repeating the same loop over and over, honing my skills and upgrading my character, all while vibing to some sweet tunes, I cannot really complain too much about any of this.

So yes, although Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue is a late entry on my list of best games for the year, it has earned its place and then some. Considering I see myself playing it for the near future, I would be a fool to deny its impact on me or the dent it’s made in my free time. This is why Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue is one of the best games of 2021.

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