Burning Down The House In This Embr Review

Little do firefighters realise how much of a side earner saving people can be. Make a profit in wacky firefighting adventure Embr, out of Early Access today.

Fire it up as the freelance fire brigade is on the case with this Embr review. Join a team of firefighters, or go it alone to save lives and make a tidy profit. Lifesaving just got corporate, or as the devs say, it’s Uber firefighting.

From Muse Games and Curve DigitalEmbr has been in Early Access since last year and has come a long way in its development. A first-person action title, it shares many of those traits with games like Overcooked as you have to fulfil several objectives in a short space of time. In this case, the house will burn down.

The tone is an amusing one as you’ll set out to rescue folk from a burning, soon-to-be condemned building, but that righteous path often leads to profiteering by taking goods and returning to their owners, with the expectation of a ‘tip’. You’ll smash down doors with your axe in a conventional manner, or you can throw one and take out some ugly furniture so you can rip off that plasma TV and salvage it. It’s all good fun.

Embr Review - Escape plan
Escape plan. Source: PR

Embr Review

There are three city districts to explore, and each level has variations of missions you can attend to. In principle, it’s all about rescuing citizens, but as you’ll see from the tablet you carry that lists the next gig, they’re seen as clients. It’s ok for the clinical approach as these chumps don’t seem bothered about the danger and would rather dick about on their phones.

Everything in Embr is controlled from an app on the tablet. Select your single or multiplayer campaign from here, but it’s also a place to invest in your equipment. It’s not just a selection of helmets, fireproof (ish) jackets and the length of your hose. It’s what you do with it.

There are three shopping sections: Tools and Upgrades, Gear, and Vehicles. For the first, there’s a selection of firefighting devices like a hose, extinguisher for electricals, sprinkler systems, axes, grappling hooks (to scale a building), trampolines, hairdryers and disposable toilets.

Gotta Have The Best Gear

On top of that, your gear options give bonuses that protect against the obvious fire hazards, electrical damage, falling, and grip for rescuing citizens and carrying objects. The vehicle side is mostly cosmetic for pimping up your wheels, but there is the option to add onboard water supplies and more.

Almost all of these items can get extra upgrades that range from damage, capacity, range and even benefits like a ladder that comes back to you at the press of a button. You can then specify a loadout, naming them too, so that you can switch your gear based on the type of mission.

Embr Review - Too much fun
Too much fun. Source: PR

It would be a fair assumption that Embr is just about firefighting, but it’s not. There are gas leaks to contend with, electrical faults, and even a rival firm from Canada that frequently set up elaborate traps in a building to shut you down (by killing you!). These are essentially obstacle courses where you use all your skills to escape.

Saving lives should be the only goal, but Embr is a business, and you’ll have to make sure you complete the objectives in a speedy time to get rated by your clients. These ratings subsequently unlock new missions, with various themes such as rescues or solving a gas leak. The better you do, the more areas you open on the map.

The Urgency Of Fire

Irrespective of your rating, the key thing here is to earn money too. There isn’t XP; instead, your equipment will decide on the success of your job. Other than the money you earn for a successful mission, you can salvage items from a fire to return to the customer for a tip. If you can put out the fires in ample time, this is a great opportunity to loot the building and make some money to buy stuff in the shop. Shame on you.

The levels in Embr are varied enough that it doesn’t feel as repetitive as it could be. Though a few buildings frequently pop up, for most of the time, NPCs spawn in different locations, there are bonus objectives of finding hidden money, and of course, the fires are unpredictable.

Embr Review - Boxed in
Boxed in. Source: PR

The presentation in the game is excellent. It’s a comical approach and quite amusing watching the NPCs run around in panic or lie in a heap when you’ve jumped out of a building with them over your shoulder. Anything’s better than watching them pace the floor looking at their phones when a blaze is bringing down the house.

The visuals were nice and all, but the close-ups when you hack down a door or furniture is a bit ropey, and you’ll see some ugly pixels. As for the audio, it’s a nice jazz selection that works well with the aesthetic, and the voice-overs are good – especially the ‘evil’ Canadians.

Time To Make Some Money

I almost wrote this off before playing, thinking there’d be too much focus on a multiplayer, or playing in the solo campaign would be pretty monotonous. I’m pleased to say that the solo element of the game is very enjoyable. 

Besides the mission varieties, city sections, bonus objectives, daily and weekly challenges, special events consist of a chain of missions you have to complete one after the other. The only downside is you have to start it again if you don’t finish it in one go. It’s not the end of the world, like your house burning down.

Does Embr get a recommendation? It certainly does. Objectively, I’d say this would be a lot more fun in a multiplayer scenario (which I didn’t get the chance to cover for several reasons), but the solo campaign is weighty enough to keep you occupied. The fact that so many items and upgrades are available makes the game that bit more interesting and provides plenty of replay value based on this alone.