If your house was on fire would you throw your grannie out of the window? No? Well actually, no, me either, actually. I’d let someone trained for the task do it for me. In the game I’m currently playing, however, window-tossing is a brilliant way of getting people out of danger. Even better you don’t need a lot of practice or a good amount of bravery to be a firefighter. The title is Embr, it’s chaotic, frantic, and a metric shit-ton of fun.
So in Embr, you play a run-of-the-mill Joe. You can literally be anyone. All you need is a hose, an app, and the will to put out burning buildings. Think Uber but for people with a bit of a death wish. You literally pick a job off your phone, try not to get incinerated while saving people and belongings, and then get paid for the privilege. If that doesn’t sound like fun, then there’s something wrong with you.
I’m not sure I’m getting the most out of this title but it has to be said that I’m having an awful lot of fun with it. The reason why I don’t think I’m playing Embr to its fullest is that this is more of a party game and would, therefore, probably be a lot more fun with a group of friends. On account of my not really liking people I’ve been playing in single-player and while still enjoyable I think it would be a lot more of a laugh in a gang.
I don’t need to explain what that is. Now make it go away.
Embr is an objective-based title. Initially, this game is simply about putting out fires and saving people but as you progress, modifiers get added to the level. You might need to remove a certain number of items or stop the building from being damaged by the flames. These little additions not only give you something extra to think about and up the difficulty accordingly, but make replaying the same areas fun and rewarding.
You’d think that this could easily be a title that got pretty stale quite quickly. I think if it were just a case of running about the place with a hose that could easily be the case. In Embr your loadout is as important as your quick wits. As you earn money you can upgrade your items and gear and, therefore, tackle more difficult challenges. The hazards you face are also quite real so you need to think about your own life as well as that of those around you. You can’t put out a burning frying pan with a hose as I found out to my own detriment. Everything else was cool except the receptacle gouting flame that was reigniting all my hard work. It took me a little while to remind myself that I needed an extinguisher for this task and I didn’t have one with me.
The map. Amazing how much of this town is on fire.
The hazards themselves aren’t just solved with the right bit of kit. If you have a fire in a room full of electrical objects turning the power off is a really smart thing to do. What is not a smart thing to do is douse flaming electrics with water unless you want to get electrocuted before burning to death. Other hazards such as poisonous gas will be present to make your life more difficult. Smashing windows helps this but having a fan to push the toxic fumes out of the building is even better. You have to use your brain a little bit to succeed in Embr. I like this because it adds some much-needed mental gymnastics to what could otherwise be an exercise in button-bashing.
As I said earlier throwing people out of the burning building from the upper floors is a very good way to save them. You have to remember, though, that gravity isn’t very friendly and hitting the ground from a great height is a good way of ending your life. If you’re going to start tossing people from the third story you’re going to need to have bought a trampoline.
Cracks in a wooden ceiling are never a good thing. Even worse when there are people up there and that might be about to be joining you on ground level.
You also have to be able to aim the parson you’re carrying at this device or they’re going to be a splat. Splats don’t count toward your quota of saved lives and, therefore, lose you money. You’re also being rated by the app that’s providing the jobs and you want as many flames as possible. Not hitting your quotas will lose you flames and this doesn’t just affect your score it also impinges on your ability to buy better stuff for your fire-fighting escapades.
I don’t have many gripes with Embr. You aren’t expecting a riveting story so there’s nothing to moan about with regards to writing. The controls are easy to pick up and any first-person shooter fan should be in their element immediately. You’re just swapping your gun for a hose and your alts and other gear for fire-fighting equipment. The graphics are colorful and cartoony and perfect for the type of game that Embr is. Nut’s and bolts wise we’re really all good. My only gripe is that putting out fires can be a pain. If you have a fire burning behind a sofa, for instance, you can’t just douse the furniture and put it out. You have to aim at the wall, exactly where the flames are. If you don’t soak everything the fire will start spreading again. The amount of water you have isn’t infinite and you’re always very keen to move on to the next area while making the one you’re in as safe as possible. I understand adding difficulty but this feels like the game is being a little bit too picky, which can be frustrating on the go. This aside we have an excellent little game here.
Embr is a brilliant party game. This is the sort of thing that you play when you just fancy doing something a bit silly and aren’t looking for anything too heavy on progression and story. As I said earlier it would probably be more fun with friends as you’ll be able to share the work, meaning some of you can do the saving while others concentrate on the burning building. Single-player is still really enjoyable but a bit harder because you’re doing everything on your own. This being said, I love the setting and think the gameplay is quirky and different enough to make you want to keep coming back for more. This is definitely one to pick up for those of you that like a good, high-energy romp.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Look and Feel - 8/10
Controls - 8/10
UI - 7/10
Replayability - 9/10
An absolute scorcher!
Embr ticks all the boxes for a fun and frantic party game. The fact that this title is still bags of fun on its own makes it a real winner. One or two little UI niggles aside this is a very solid title for those of you that love your action fast and frenzied. Definitely one to grab for an evening in with your mates.
Hailing from Southport England, Alex started his gaming career in the late 80s on a Commodore 64. Since that time he's either owned or played on virtually every console released. Alex happens to...