Imagine a world in which the emergency services as you know them are gone, crushed under the pressures of a hyper-capitalist reality. That world is the world of Embr, but as we all know without emergency services, humanity wouldn’t manage very long before utter chaos rains down, and the new and revolutionary company Embr is one which is looking to capitalise on the positive, and the keen, to ensure that those same emergency services we rely on all too often are still there to save the day, and provided you’re willing to pay a small fee, you too can be become one of the valued Embr Respondr’s on hand to save the day!
In this have-a-go-hero adventure, players take on the role of the previously mentioned Embr Respondr. Embr isn’t the only company out there looking to offer firefighters on demand though, as rival company Hosr are out there looking to steal the success, but with the right attitude and just enough people saved from the roaring furnaces that seem to pop up all over town, you might just make a payday out of all of this.
The game begins with a tutorial level showing you the basics of just what you need to do as a Respondr and truth be told, when you don’t have to worry about courage or bravery, it’s a pretty simple job really. With water, a fire axe, and a keen sense of direction, you can grab anyone stranded within the flames and save the day. Sadly, it’s not always as simple as you expect and should you find yourself taking a little longer than anticipated, you could end up with dead customers, and a building about to collapse on top of you.
The action takes place through three districts – Bedbugstuy, Prospect Flats, and Upper North Side – with each one progressively more difficult than the last. As you progress, you’ll come away from each job having earned both money and a flame rating(star rating equivalent) from your clients based on performance. These ratings work towards unlocking new jobs, whilst the cash can be spent on new and upgraded tools, fresh equipment, new clothes, and a flashy new ride to ensure you arrive in style and ready to go.
There are 7 unique mission types available within the game, with the standard one you’ll need to complete being the Rescue Missions. These require you to head into the various burning buildings, saving those in need before the building burns to the ground. This is where the key ratings come from.
On top of those however are Salvage missions, in which you must get as many items out of the building before it crumbles; Low House Damage missions which need you to maintain building integrity above 50% whilst saving clients; Special Object Missions which are pretty self-explanatory; Escape missions in which you must escape from a building on fire; and finally, Embr Eats missions, which give you the role of the local Uber driver as you deliver the requested foods to those trapped within the buildings before saving them. They aren’t all of the highest quality, with Embr Eats missions feeling a bit ridiculous, albeit fitting with the comical nature that is slightly imposed on things, but they do make for some interesting and varied gameplay which is definitely necessary once you get into the thick of it all.
Gameplay is commenced from a first-person viewpoint within Embr and with up to 4-players able to jump into action together, this is certainly a game that is designed to be played with your friends. Sadly, whilst I was able to grab a second Respondr to help out for my time with the game, it wasn’t long before a few issues popped up to spoil the fun. After choosing your next job via the app on your Respondr tablet, the majority of your time within Embr is spent breaking down doors, smashing windows, fixing electrical circuits, clearing gas leaks, and carrying, or sometimes throwing, people or their beloved items to the safety zone. Now doing this with friends will certainly prove a much easier and vastly more enjoyable experience than doing it solo. It will however also soon see one of you trapped within the walls, flooring or within objects, with clipping a major issue. My time with the game saw either me, or my partner, and even occasionally the NPC’s trapped and unable to move at least once every other mission, which then required a restart if we were both to survive the job.
Whilst this is certainly an issue that could and probably will be patched out pretty quickly, running through missions two or even three times on occasions is certainly enough to put a bit of a dampener on things, especially when you’re doing particularly well.
When these issues don’t arise however and you can get through a mission bug-free, the experience is indeed a laugh. You don’t really need to put much planning in besides maybe communicating who is covering which area of the burning buildings, but it makes for a basic yet enjoyable time.
Let a few minutes pass by and not only is the building now likely to be fully ablaze but you’re going to need to ensure you’ve refreshed your water supply from a nearby sink as well as keeping a keen eye on the blaze before you as it doesn’t take long for an entire room to be little but fire on every surface, and with additional hazards such as toxic gas, falling beams, explosive barrels and electricity surges from a loose connection all possible and likely. It’s not long before saving yourself must take precedent over that of saving clients, especially in later missions.
That said, the difficulty doesn’t increase too quickly and by the time you make it to later levels, some shrewd business and clever spending on the right upgrades such as extendable ladders, crash mats, water grenades and so on will be enough to see you keep a client satisfied enough to call you back should another emergency arrive, although you may be finding you need a second run through to hit that perfect flame rating.
Away from the gameplay, visually Embr is a colourful and vibrant experience. Even amongst the flames there is a natural glow to things, whilst each environment feels varied and surprisingly detailed for an art style such as Embr’s. Think a first-person Human Fall Flat and you’d be on the right track. Sadly, screen tearing is present and does bring down the experience a little, even when playing on the Xbox Series X.
As for the audio, there isn’t all that much to focus on. The menus bring a sort of tranquil mall music, whilst gameplay brings an exciting jazz track to tap your feet to as you run through flames and eventually hear the sound of the blaze around you overpower it.
Overall, and if you want a new game to run around with friends and simply have a laugh whilst doing some basic, yet humorous jobs, then Embr will certainly tick the right boxes. Whilst some of the additional level types feel a bit tacked on, the general rescue missions are certainly enough to warrant a playthrough and whilst playing solo will quickly feel a bit repetitive, going for the full flame rating with friends is worthwhile. Sadly, bugs and minor issues are present and whilst not game-breaking, they certainly detract from the joy factor, but all in, this isn’t the worst way to spend time over the course of a few evenings as you finally get to be the have-a-go-hero we all have hidden inside.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.