When I was still just a crumb in my Father’s toaster, I wanted to be a firefighter. Something was awe-inspiring about running into burning buildings, saving lives, sliding down poles, and riding in a big truck. It didn’t help that my Step-Dad worked in a Fire Station, or that my hometown was frequently ablaze mind you. As I aged, I moved away from a life of heroism. Instead, I veered more towards a life of writing about my previous dreams of heroism. This is where Embr, by Muse Games, comes into play. Now, even a couch potato like me can experience what it’s like to wield a mighty hose.
Fire Fighting Fun
Embr follows in the footsteps of games like Overcooked or Moving Out in the sense that it takes a fairly serious job and turns it into a light-hearted thrill ride. From the word go it becomes immediately apparent that this is one of those games. You know, the ones with janky physics, wonky animations and unpleasant controls. They have been all the rage for years now. For what it’s worth, Embr ended up being surprisingly good despite its deliberate attempts at worsening the act of playing it.
The game is split into various missions that progressively get more difficult. You are tasked with breaking into a building and locating trapped, panicked, on fire, or pooping civilians. Once you’ve interrupted their bowel movements, you can proceed to lift, hop, throw, and escort them to the designated safe location. Once you have gathered the minimum required to complete a stage, you can leave. Naturally, you’d want to save everyone, and you are handsomely rewarded if you go out of your way to do your job.
Locating civies is pretty simple thanks to your handy-dandy phone. This piece of tech detects where everyone is hiding. The difficulty is finding your way to them before things get too crazy. Do you set up a ladder and go in from above? Do you break down a door and go in spraying? Each building is different enough to encourage experimentation and even a little bit of planning. As the fire spreads previously accessible pathways will get blocked forcing you to improvise. There’s always a timer too, so between saving people, adapting on the fly and watching the clock, it all gets a bit hectic.
You are rewarded with little fire tokens and money doing a good job. The former unlocks new stages, whilst the latter lets you purchase new gear. Gear is where Embr gets its wings, as there is a lot to choose from, and they all open up new ways to play. Why rely on ladders and axes, when you can run around with grappling hooks and trampolines? There is a lot to mess around with here, and you only have a limited inventory. This encourages builds and swapping builds for specific jobs. I had a lot of fun pretending to be Batman – although throwing people off apartment buildings and watching them miss my carefully placed trampoline was pretty fun too.
Embr isn’t the only whacky fire brigade in town, however. Hosr, a somewhat murderous Canadian branch of Firefighters, frequently appears to mess up your day. These missions veer off from the usual rescue mission and become more of an escape room kind of thing. The light puzzle solving involved in core experience is front and centre here and it’s a nice distraction. Speaking of which, once you have progressed far enough you unlock the ability to replay missions and try different modes. Why rescue people when you can just burn the house down in Demolition or become a delivery man,
This is expanded further with the cycling online challenges. These encourage you, once again, to dive back into previously completed content and try new things for hefty rewards. Needless to say, there is a lot of content in Embr – even if a lot of it comes from replaying the same stages with a different mutation applied. It’s a shame that the multiplayer is locked to being online only. Local play could have given this game some serious party game legs. I was, unfortunately, unable to find a game online during the review process, however, the concept of combining builds to tackle challenges is an appealing one.
Just Die Already Review
My biggest issue with Embr is that I found it rather unpleasant to play. At all times. As interesting and as well crafted as the concept and content are, it all feels wasted when the controls are loose, imprecise and uncomfortable. It makes for a more light-hearted experience, sure, but I would have much preferred a bit more control, and a bit less stumbling. The visuals were also pretty poor despite the colourful art style, and I struggled to judge distance whilst playing, which was weird. I noticed some stuttering during play too, which didn’t help matters. Finally, I encountered several bugs, such as the world not loading in properly, which made the game seem unfinished.
Overall Embr is an alright game. There are plenty of things to do thanks to how replayable each mission is, the daily challenges and the build variety. The act of locating, navigating and escaping is surprisingly addictive, it’s just a shame the game’s controls felt so unpolished. This, combined with bugs, performance issues and relatively rough visuals managed to dampen my overall enjoyment of the game. That being said, it’s worth picking up on a sale if you can grab a few mates who are willing to do the same.
For notifications when the latest article drops, follow me on Twitter @gameswithtoasty. Alternatively, you can join the Games With Toasty Facebook page or follow my Podcast. I even have a YouTube channel and Stream on Twitch! Happy gaming.