Embr is a Silly Firefighting Sim That's Best When Played With Friends

Embr is a Silly Firefighting Sim That's Best When Played With Friends

Embr is a game with a simple premise: what if there was an app like Uber for firefighters? As an Embr Respondr you are tasked with putting out fires and saving lives, all while being a part of the Emergency Services Revolution. Equipped with a state-of-the-art wireless hose, along with any other equipment you choose to bring with you, you run into burning buildings for the greater good (and good pay). On top of all this, Embr works around your flexible hours, so you work when you want.

It's hard not to smirk at the self-aware and quirky presentation of Embr and that style is imminent throughout the game. From civilians using phones while their house is on fire to an optional side objective that lets you steal things from the burning house if you so desire. On that note, let's talk about gameplay. Before you go into an area to fight fires, you first choose what you wear and what equipment you want to take with you. Embr has an in-game store that lets you purchase items with money you earn putting out fires. While equipment such as ladders or upgraded hoses help you in a literal sense, the wacky clothing you wear can also give you buffs to help you play. This means there's some mixing and matching to do before you find the sweet spot that works well for you.

However, saving the day in Embr isn't as simple as going in and getting out. The game has a few puzzle mechanics to keep you on your toes such as electricity that can be used to both help and hinder your objectives. These puzzles are unique in concept. They change up the gameplay and require players to think through their actions more. But I can confirm that figuring out if the open circuit is closed or not while fighting off a raging fire is more chaotic than challenging.

Now let's talk about friends, a luxury I do not have (because I got family). No, seriously, I had no one to play this game with, and putting out imaginary fires by yourself is only good when you're trying not to make a big deal of the fact that they are out of queso at Chipotle. I had a fine time playing the game by myself but I couldn't quite shake the feeling that the game would be more fun with other people. Much like a kid with his nose pressed against the window of the sweet shop, I watched quite a few videos on YouTube and streams on Twitch of people having a fun time playing the game cooperatively and nothing feeling close to that same experience when playing by my lonesome. This is actually a big part of why this is not a full review where I would have given the game an official score which wouldn't be an accurate representation of the game and its value.

That's not to excuse Embr for all its shortcomings though. Due to the nature of Embr's gameplay loop, it can get repetitive fast, with or without friends. The game does have a few different game modes to prevent fatigue, but it doesn't take long to see all that they have to offer. At the end of the day, Embr is technically a first-person shooter with water instead of bullets, and when you jump into the field to save civilians and recover assets you have to do so carefully. I played the game on the PlayStation 5 and I couldn't help but feel that the game was not optimized for the controller. Despite my best efforts, I could never get the game's sensitivity to be just right and it resulted in me having more than a few mess-ups along the way, mainly in parts where precision is required. 

After a year in Early Access on Steam, Embr has grown a great deal before finally releasing on consoles and PC. I have had the pleasure of playing the game for the past two weeks to get my thoughts together, but at the end of the day, my opinion about the game can be summed up in the title. Embr is a really silly firefighting sim that is best when it's played with friends. The game has a great sense of humor and completing objectives cooperatively is a great way to spend an evening. If you plan on picking it up for consoles, make sure you set aside the time to fine-tune the controls or learn to live with them as they are, the latter of which I do not recommend. Embr may not be a game you pick up every day, but if the humor suits your style, it is a great game to pick up every now and then to put out a few fires. Embr is out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam. A review code for the game was provided by the publisher.

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