Interview: Firegirl devs "able to achieve our vision" with DX upgrade

By Heidi Nicholas,

Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX is set to launch tomorrow as an overhauled and revamped version of the game that launched for PC last year, with new enemies, improved level design, and more.

With the launch of Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue DX upon us, we thought it a good time to reach out to developer Dejima Games, with founder Julien Ribassin having been kind enough to answer all our Firegirl questions. Let’s dive in!

What is Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX?

Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX is a roguelite action-adventure and platformer game in which we fight to save civilians from the mysterious fires that have started up across the city. It’s in development from Dejima Games and is published by Thunderful Games.

When does Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX launch?

You don’t have long to wait for Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue DX at all — it’s out tomorrow!

Firegirl initially launched as Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue on PC last year. “Launching on PC was a very valuable experience as we were able to gather a lot of feedback very quickly,” Ribassin explains. “We listened to all the comments and worked very hard to update the game and create a more enjoyable experience.” Now, the game is launching as an “overhauled and rebalanced” deluxe version: Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX. This version of the game comes with a number of adjustments and reworks, including new enemies and improved level design. “We identified the most frequent points of feedback from the PC players and started with those,” Ribassin begins. “We went back to the drawing board for many of those and reworked several systems from the ground up! We did our best to listen to player feedback while maintaining the game's identity.”

firegirl hack n splash rescue dx interview

Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue DX also features a rebalanced difficulty curve. “Without going into too much detail, we tweaked the level generation code quite a bit. What's unique about the levels in our game is that they are generated in real time as the player progresses. We are therefore able to know whether the player is running out of water or looking for an exit and modify the layout of the level accordingly,” Ribassin adds. “A lot of the fine tuning went into making the level design feel more fair and less random. Another big change we have made since the release is that the player now adds a little bit of time to the clock each time he or she extinguishes an enemy. That change allowed for more varied playstyles as it is now possible to extinguish all the flames in a level and still have time to rescue everyone.” As for the new enemies and reworked environments: “Some of the new enemies are very rare and add a lot of time to the clock when extinguished, the others are designs we had in mind for a while! As for the environments, we spent a lot of time polishing the level design for all of them, but the train and forest levels are probably the ones that benefited the most.”

By all accounts, a lot of work has gone into this overhauled version of the game — out of all this, what is the team most excited for players to experience with Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX? “We're excited because we feel we've been able to achieve our vision with this DX version,” Ribassin explains. “A welcoming, ‘easy to play, hard to master’ roguelite platformer with a retro feel, that respects the player's time, with an engaging story, endearing characters, and a killer soundtrack!”

firegirl hack n splash rescue dx interview

What’s it about?

In Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX, we’re just starting out on our career. “I don't want to spoil too much, but the story has its origins ten years before the events of the game when Firegirl's father died in a mysterious fire,” Ribassin explains. “Several characters in the game have ties with that tragic event that changed a lot of lives.” From the sound of things on the game’s Steam page, while we’re working to save lives, we’ll also be trying to figure out the mystery behind the origin of all the fires — and working to upgrade our gear and hire new recruits at the Firehouse.

How does Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX play?

We’ll be kept busy in Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX — our most important duty will be answering emergency calls across the city, but along with saving civilians (and the occasional cat) we’ll also be spending time at the Firehouse, where we'll be seeing to our equipment and hiring more staff to help us.

firegirl hack n splash rescue dx interview

We won’t be going firefighting empty-handed, either, but will be equipped with an axe and a fire hose. This fire hose also handily doubles as a jetpack, so along with putting out fires, we’ll be able to use it to jump higher and reach difficult places to rescue every trapped survivor. When we arrive, we’ll have three minutes to save all those at risk — but as Ribassin explains, “it is important to note that the three minute time limit isn't a hard limit as there are many ways for the player to add more time to the clock. It was important for us to convey a sense of pressure and urgency for a rescue mission though. In the end, finding the right balance required a lot of fine tuning.”

Interestingly, it’s not just the flames themselves we’ll be fighting — Firegirl also adds a fantasy element with its introduction of pyro-monsters. “We always wanted to make a very arcade style firefighting game,” Ribassin says. “The pyro-monsters allowed us to be more creative with fire behaviour and also gave us the opportunity to infuse more personality into the thing you're constantly fighting against.” The missions promise to be fast-paced and urgent, with us trying to take out pyro-monsters and flames to gain more time while rescuing trapped survivors, but we’ll also have the option to spend some time in the Firehouse, upgrading equipment and acquiring more recruits. “The Firehouse is where you go back to in between each mission to upgrade your gear and equip new perks. Hiring new staff is a very important part of the game,” Ribassin adds. “There are some unique survivors that you can rescue during the missions. They can then be hired to join the fire brigade. Each provides unique and extremely useful upgrades.”

firegirl hack n splash rescue dx interview

What’s the world like?

A lot of what we’ve seen of Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX so far shows Firegirl zooming through the city, with skyscrapers or apartment blocks in the background, but it seems we’ll see even more variety throughout the levels themselves: “The whole game takes place in the fictional city of Tinderbox Heights in the early 90s,” Ribassin explains. “The player will fight fire in run-down apartment blocks, lavish hotel complexes, suburban trains, and even the nearby national park.”

Any news on the Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX achievements?

Yep, we’ve got ‘em! There are 21 Firegirl: Hack ‘n Splash Rescue achievements for you to check out, and Ribassin gave us an idea of the design process behind them. “Achievements are a key part of Firegirl's design. The game has an in-game achievement system that allows the player to unlock and equip very powerful perks,” Ribassin explains. “Half of the achievements should be obtained by most players by just playing through the game. The other half is meant to incentivise exploration and more advanced techniques. In my opinion achievements are a very powerful tool for the game designer to tell the player ‘Hey, maybe you should also check this out.’” Firegirl revolves around saving trapped civilians, and it’s because of this, Ribassin explains, that “there actually aren't that many achievements tied to rescuing civilians! Rescuing is already the goal of the game so instead we used the achievements to draw the player's attention towards other more optional areas of the game like exploration and extinguishing,” Ribassin continues. As for what makes a great achievement list: “in my opinion, a great achievement list is one that doesn't seem too daunting at first, so you feel compelled to try to 100% the game,” Ribassin says. “But then, certain achievements take you out of your comfort zone and help you discover new ways to play and enjoy the game even more!”

firegirl hack n splash rescue dx interview

So, what do you think? Will you be trying out Firegirl: Hack 'n Splash Rescue DX? Let us know what you think in the comments!
Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Heidi graduated with an MA in English Literature, and now enjoys writing news, reviews, and features across TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies. When she’s not writing, Heidi is usually either looking for her next RPG, or trying to convince the rest of the team to hear about yet another delightfully wholesome game she has found.