Any regular readers of Geeky Hobbies will know that I am a sucker for silly simulation games. This is why I was excited when I saw Embr as it seemed exactly like the type of game that I really enjoy. The idea of playing a silly firefighting game was really intriguing. Released last May into Early Access, today the game has left Early Access while also receiving its console release making for a good excuse to finally check it out. Embr is not afraid to embrace its silliness leading to a really fun and satisfying firefighting experience that anyone can enjoy.
In Embr you play as the newest member of the “revolutionary” new approach to firefighting. Instead of calling the local fire department, why not use your phone to hire someone to put out the fire and save you in the same way you order food to be delivered to your home or to get a ride. With only some very basic training, you and up to three of your friends can become firefighters trying to save peoples’ lives and put out fires. Are you willing to put your own life and the lives of those you are trying to save on the line in order to make a quick buck?
The gameplay of Embr is pretty straightforward. As a for hire firefighter you basically do what you would expect a typical firefighter to do with less training and more questionable ethics. You are equipped with a portable water gun which you can use to help put out fires. Basically point your hose at the fire and shoot water at it to put it out. The amount of water that your gun holds though is limited so you either need to refill it occasionally or you need to avoid wasting water. The fire spreads quickly so you will need to try to contain it or it will consume the building. In addition to putting out the fire you are also tasked with saving your clients/civilians from the burning building.
As a gig employee the ultimate goal of the game is to make money. You will earn money based on how good of a job that you do. You will receive a star rating based on how many of the clients you are able to save as you don’t need to save them all in order to complete a mission. You can also choose to save items from the house and return them to the clients for a tip or you could choose to sneak them into your own vehicle. The money you make from jobs can be used to purchase additional equipment or upgrades which allow you to complete more difficult jobs.
As firefighting doesn’t pay enough on its own, you can also take a number of side jobs in addition to firefighting. These include burning down buildings (I assume for the insurance money), trying to limit the damage done by a fire, retrieving enough valuable items from a building, and even delivering items to clients who for some reason are more interested in their deliveries than the fire that is quickly surrounding them. There are also a number of escape room type jobs where you need to solve puzzles and complete objectives in order to escape the building in time.
When I first saw Embr I was mostly intrigued by the game’s silliness. I like games that don’t take themselves too seriously. This is definitely true for Embr as you can tell that it utilizes a lighthearted take on firefighting in general. How could it not when the whole premise is that in the game’s world there are no fire departments. Instead people hire barely trained “firefighters” like you would call an Uber, GrubHub, or any other gig style job. The game is not afraid to go into the absurd which becomes more and more clear the further you get in the game as you unlock more and more ridiculous upgrades.
At the same time though, in some ways the game kind of feels realistic as well. Don’t get me wrong, the game is far from a firefighting simulator. There are elements of the firefighting aspect of the game though that feel somewhat similar to real life. The fires spread out from their initial location where you need to contain them or they will spread out of control quickly. I will admit that I don’t know if I have ever played a firefighting video game before, but there were times in the game where it felt like I was playing as a real firefighter. It is quite exhilarating running through fire filled rooms as you try to save the last person from the building before it succumbs to the fire.
I think this balance between the silliness with a hint of realism is why the game works as well as it does. The game is simple to play as you basically break down a few doors, spray water at the fire, and try to rescue the civilians as quickly as possible. You never have to take the game too serious as it is meant as more of an action game where you can freelance instead of going in with a detailed plan. In a way it feels like you are in an action movie based around firefighting. The game has just enough realism though where it still feels like you are a firefighter.
This combination creates a firefighting experience that is just really satisfying. It is fun storming into a building hoping to find and basically put out the fire before it can really start to spread. It really feels like you are fighting against a growing fire since if you don’t contain it, it will consume the building quickly making your job more difficult later. You need to balance fighting the fire against trying to get the civilians out of the building in time. It is satisfying breaking down doors on your way to picking up the civilians and then chucking them at the safe zone from the second, third, fourth, etc floor. While some missions will be kind of easy, there will be plenty of jobs that will go down to the wire as you are forced to run through halls engulfed in flame barely being able to see where you are going.
When you first see Embr you can tell that the game was designed as a multiplayer game. This is what initially intrigued me about the game as I love these type of games. Because the game only supports online co-op at this point though, I will admit that I haven’t played the multiplayer a lot as I generally prefer local/splitscreen co-op over online multiplayer. Generally I would say that the game will be more enjoyable as a multiplayer game. That said I was honestly surprised that the single player still holds up well. Without having others to help you, everything falls on you from fighting the fire to getting the civilians out in time. This creates it own experience which is quite enjoyable in its own way. I would probably recommend playing the game with other people if possible. If you don’t have others to play the game with online though, the single player is good enough on its own that it shouldn’t discourage you from picking up the game.
As for the game’s difficulty I would say that it can vary. There will be levels that are really easy. This is especially true if you are able to basically put the fire out as you can then pretty much take your time completing the other objectives. Other levels will be quite a bit more challenging though. There will be levels where you will have to be really efficient in order to save everyone in time. These jobs are some of the most enjoyable as it is exciting getting the last person out by running through the flames that are engulfing the building. There does seem to be some luck regarding some levels though. Due to where the people that you have to save are spawned and where the fire spreads initially, you can sometimes be put in a situation where it is basically impossible to save all of the civilians in time as they will be surrounded by fire before you have any chance of getting to them. This is kind of frustrating if you are trying to max out the stars for each level, but you can reload a level quick enough where it isn’t too much of a problem.
I really enjoyed playing Embr, but while playing the game I encountered a number of bugs/glitches that somewhat took away from the experience. These mostly had to do with the physics which can be a little floaty at times. Objects will sometimes bounce around the environment in weird ways. The game also occasionally has times where you are trying to pick up/interact with an object and it doesn’t work right away. Finally there are times where you could be shooting your water stream right at a fire and it won’t put it out no matter how long you shoot at it. These are mostly minor annoyances that don’t detract from the game too much.
At this point I haven’t completely finished Embr, but I will say that I was genuinely impressed with the amount of content that the game has. The game has 25 different levels with each level being pretty big. The game also supplements the 25 locations by adding a number of different jobs that you can attempt at each level. While the basic gameplay is mostly the same, these different modes actually differ enough from the main mode that they give you a reason to go back and replay the levels in different ways. The game also features daily and weekly challenges which encourage you to keep coming back and improving your skills. If you have any interest in the game’s concept, I see no reason why you wouldn’t easily get your money’s worth out of Embr.
Heading into Embr I had pretty high expectations as it seemed like the type of game that would be right up my alley. A silly firefighting game that isn’t afraid to embrace its silliness. The good news is that the game basically lived up to my expectations. It has a few minor issues dealing with a few bugs/glitches and luck sometimes determining whether you can five star a level. The game is still really satisfying though. The game does a good job finding the right balance between being silly and yet still feeling like you are playing as a firefighter. The game succeeds because the gameplay is just so satisfying. It is really fun trying to put out the fires while also saving all of the civilians in time. The game is quite easy to play, and yet it can provide quite a challenge. On top of this the game offers a lot of different modes/objectives which give you a lot of content to play. While designed as a multiplayer game, it even holds up really well as a single player game.
My recommendation for Embr is pretty simple. If the premise of a silly firefighting game doesn’t really appeal to you, Embr likely won’t be for you. If the premise intrigues you at all though, you will likely really enjoy Embr and should really consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Muse Games and Curve Digital for the review copy of Embr used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.