In the world of Embr, capitalism has truly won the day. Firefighting is being outsourced to ride share-like apps which dispatch friendly freelance firefighters to help save you and your loved ones. Except they’re not there to put out the fire or save your valuables. According to the app’s terms of service, their only obligation is to save 70 percent of people in the building to consider the order fulfilled and get paid.
But that’s no way to get a good five-star rating so you’ll find yourself pressured by your corporate overlords to get every single person out of the burning building. Take too long, however, and the building will likely become engulfed and collapsed, killing everyone inside. If you end up injured or killed, Embr has the right to blame you for everything that’s happened and you become liable for not only your own medical bills, but the bills of everyone involved. So don’t push yourself too hard! But also don’t just settle for 70 percent! You want to keep your reviews up!
It’s hell. The world in Embr is actually capitalism hell. But that nightmare of a world is just a backdrop for a silly, amusing experience that’s best played with a friend.
Granny’s Got An Axe
Before you even start fighting fires, there are some things to consider. The game has multiple loadouts, each with its own specializations. Our Hero Class firefighter, for example, comes with a water gun, axe, an extendable ladder, and one of those life safety nets that looks like a trampoline. You also get what is essentially an AR phone app that tells you where your customers are inside of the building. Another class called Ascender (pictured above) has a grappling hook so you can quickly climb to the roof or other hard to reach places.
In an unusually free move, for an app like this at least, you don’t just have to deal with whatever the app sends you. Instead they’re displayed as a map on your device. Each comes with a difficulty rating and highlights about how much pay you can expect. You can put that money to good use, buying better gear or vehicles.
The level based structure is a similar approach to Overcooked. You’ll likely need a certain number of stars to unlock new, more challenging levels, that provide increased rewards.
Professional Flub Job
From a gameplay standpoint, there is a disaster waiting to happen around every corner in Embr. Niki and I weren’t even in the building for more than 30 seconds before I botched our rescue attempt.
Breaking down one of the doors in the building, I entirely ignore the door beginning to glow with heat and flames. Busting it down with my axe, a backdraft of fire explodes outward, sending me flying back and further spreading fire around the room. The man inside, now sitting dazed on the floor, isn’t in great shape.
I try to put the fire out but only make the situation worse. Turns out that explosion exposed some electrical wires meaning the water I’ve sprayed all over the room is now electrocuting the man and myself. We’re told we need to turn off the light switch somewhere in this broiling lounge area or turn off the power to the entire building at some breaker we’re yet to discover.
Naturally, with my success determined by number of people evacuated, I leave the man to suffer and go search for someone else to save. I’m not gone long before Niki finds the light switch himself and I double back to evacuate our first few souls.
In a way, each of the burning buildings is a puzzle that can be made easier or harder based on what you do. After Niki and I went back into the house, he willingly walks into a cloud of green gas that’s accumulated. We’re not professionals and don’t have gas masks so Niki is wounded by the inhalation and needs reviving. Now I have to save both him and the people inside.
I have no idea what to do, but he isn’t able to move and I can’t just step into the gas otherwise we’ll both die in the fire. Frantically, I break out of a nearby door looking for a way to get around, smashing a nearby window in the process. Apparently that’s enough to help, but it’s taking too long for all of the gas to waft out. Then I notice a box fan nearby and rush it over so that it’ll blow the air out the window. Neither of us know what really happens next, but we’re informed that the gas is about to catch fire and explode. It does. Somehow we’re both fine and having “solved” that puzzle we go back to our savior attempts.
A Spreading Blaze
How each level plays out entirely depends on how you approach it. The spreading fire does more and more damage to the structure of the building. You can decide to fight the fire to slow its spread, but that’s technically not your job and won’t earn you any points towards success.
While Niki and I were out dealing with the gas leak and saving a few folks on that side of the building, the room we entered through had become entirely engulfed in floor-to-ceiling flames. I beams had also collapsed, further delaying our progress as we had to chop them away with our axes. And the gas explosion earlier ended up destroying the ceiling, making our efforts on the second story of the house much more difficult.
You also have the usual balancing act of water consumption. You’re not hooked up to a water supply, after all. At points throughout the level you may have to find other sources of water.
All of this is to say that Embr is the usual delightful co-op game you’ve come to expect from titles like this. There’s a lot of preposterous moments, light puzzle solving, and a ton of laughter. You can fly solo or work together to try and save everyone inside. You can also be like me and fumble your way through the building, making it harder for just about everyone involved. Just don’t “save” someone by throwing them off of the roof. They’ll just turn into a pile of bones. Take it from us.