Flash Point Fire Rescue Review
A raging fire is consuming a house, putting many of its inhabitants at risk. Can you and your fellow firefighters save them before its too late? This is the premise behind Flash Point: Fire Rescue. Its premise is scorching hot, but does it have the gameplay to match?
Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a co-operative game in which each player takes on the role of a unique firefighter. Each character has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, one firefighter is really good at putting out fires, while another one is much more efficient at rescuing civilians. In order to win, you’re going to have to work as a team, trying your best to ensure that each person is contributing in the most effective way possible. You’re going to have to use these skills to save seven civilians from this burning house. This must be completed before four civilians die or before the house collapses on you.
On your turn, you can use your limited pool of action points to move, carry a civilian, put out a nearby fire, open a door or use your axe to cut a hole in a wall. What makes things interesting is that certain actions cost more than others. For example, moving by yourself costs only one action point per space, while carrying someone one space costs two. Fire works the same way in that putting out smoke costs one, but putting out a full-blown fire tile costs two. Cutting a hole in the wall might be the most direct path to someone you need to save, but it also costs upwards of four action points to completely expose a hole in the wall.
There’s another major con that comes with using your axe. The house can only sustain so much damage to its walls before it collapses, costing everyone the game. Each time a wall is damaged, a black cube is placed on it. If you run out of black cubes, the house falls on you and the game is over.
After each player has completed their actions, it’s time to spread the fire. You’ll do this rolling two dice whose values correspond to coordinates on the board. If you roll a location that doesn’t have smoke on it, place a smoke tile. If it does have smoke, place a fire tile. Should a civilian be on a tile that catches fire, they immediately die. If a firefighter gets caught, they are taken outside of the house and are forced to restart from the closest ambulance space. In the worst case scenario, you roll a value where fire already exists, which causes an explosion. This causes fire to spread in four directions, which could blow out doors, walls, and cause adjacent fire tiles to also explode. Needless to say, this is bad news every time it occurs.
Play continues like this until you win by saving enough civilians, or you lose through too many casualties or too much damage to the walls. Play time will vary, though the average game takes between 45 minutes to an hour.
The concept of saving lives in a burning house is a fantastic one that Flash Point: Fire Rescue exploits to the fullest. From the look of the game to the way all of the game’s mechanics work, it does a tremendous job of placing you in that moment. I felt deeply invested in every game we played of this, as it’s easy to get caught up in trying to save the lives of those deep inside the house while a fire rages around you.
My only gripe with it is how punishing a random die roll can be. One bad roll can cause a massive explosion, pretty much dooming your team. This happened to us in our first game, as the roll on the first turn blew up so badly that we pretty much had no shot of recovering. Then again, fire can spread pretty randomly in a burning building, and it can cause an explosion that would decimate the house before you really get a chance to go to work. Not sure how you would do it, but I wish there was a way to better control the escalation of fire, versus having the possibility of it going nuclear immediately.
Flash Point: Fire Rescue is a strong co-operative game with mass appeal. Who wouldn’t want to partake in a game where you save people (and pets) from a burning house? Save for the potentially-rare use case of a bad roll causing a massive explosion that can decimate the entire house at the start of the game, it’s a lot of fun to play and it’s deeply engaging. This one is definitely worth giving a shot.