Embr Early Access Impressions
Embr is a satirical take on the gig economy where firefighters are just an app away. Whether the newly anointed firefighters are effective is an entirely different story.
Ever have that Uber drive that was good for the most part, but you had to hang on for dear life as they cosplayed their favorite NASCAR driver? Same! Embr flips a traditional Uber for cars on its head, and instead you are essentially an Uber firefighter, with a 1-5 star rating and all. It’s not long before the high jinks ensue as you clumsily work your way around burning buildings in hopes of saving most of the clients from an early demise.
Embr sets you up with a map that has a dozen or so locations with each location getting progressively harder due to the number of clients that need saving, or the layout of the building. The beginning levels are easy enough. Save a few clients and avoid hazardous traps such as electrified floors, gas filled rooms and… well… fires. The game does give you some decent ways to deal with these varying levels of hazardous events. For instance, you can take care of an electrified floor by hopping on furniture and flicking the switch, or better yet, a simple flip of an outside junction box does the trick. Fans become extremely useful for forcefully pushing out toxic gas, as does simply opening a window; albeit, the second option does take a bit more time to filter out.
As for fires, you can usually work to quell them as you sprint past them for your clients and/or their possessions. As you are reminded multiple times, you aren’t paid to put out the fire, you are paid to save the clients. The only issues I had was the normal walking speed was a bit slow. This can be sped up when lugging a client around, but I felt the gamespeed should be upped to capitalize on the hilarious situations that occur. It would also be nice to launch clients just a tad further. You can get some nice distance by hopping and throwing from a height, but I couldn’t count the number of times where I chucked them to the zone, only for them to fall a couple inches short. When this did happen from a rooftop, the client smashed into the ground and turned into a skeleton; it was tilted-head back funny.
Save all the clients? Get a five-star rating and more cash. You also have the opportunity to save some of their possessions for a cash bonus, as well as helping yourself to some stacks of cash lying around. The cash earned allows you to access a rather large cache of tools, upgrades, useful and interesting outfits. With a slew of gadgets at your disposal, from things such as an ultra-handy ladder, to an even more useful grappling hook and to things like water grenades, what first appears to be a straightforward affair quickly turns to anything but. Creating load outs allows you to complete locations in some unique ways. Nearly every load out I had included the grappling hook, water grenade and the returning ladder.
The upgrades work as active bonuses with gameplay changing abilities, like an upgrade to the ax which allows you to use it while carrying someone (one of the best upgrades in the game), while outfits give you passive bonuses. With buffs to your immunity like taking less electrical damage, or an increase in movement speed when carrying a client. The upgrades, of which are plentiful, really open the game up and provide a reason to hop back into previous clients to better your rating.
As touched upon, you get access to increasingly difficult levels as you progress. Sometimes this is adding in additional clients to save, new environmental hazards, or most challenging, multiple locales of varying heights. The most challenging level had to do with what appeared to be an office complex with a whole slew of clients on all different levels, and the only way to get them to the safe zone was by taking them down an elevator. First try: as I go to put the first client on the elevator I fall through a small crack and die on impact. Second try: jump over the gap, set the client down and he falls off the elevator and dies. Third try, and so on. That’s where Embr really does shine, it’s simplistic in nature, yet freshly challenging with each run. The levels are fast, load quickly and provide a multitude of ways to tackle each section.
Short asides from clients provide for some hilarious levels with your main nemesis, presumably throughout the game, the Canadian fire department. Up until a boss fire, these work as kind of escape rooms with all the stereotypical Canadian tropes you could imagine. It truly fits in with the satire heavy feel, especially when the boss of the first area takes place in a maple warehouse where you have to chuck barrels of maple to defeat him.
The only major complaint I had dealt with the inability to get a private match going. After several attempts, we did the classic “On three, I am going to make a public room and hit join.” Not a major deal since it is EA, and the player base isn’t there quite yet. However, once the game is full-featured and officially out of EA, that won’t quite work out.
Embr contains a solid framework upon which to build. With slight tweaks to speed and multiplayer, I could see this game making it into my chill-game rotation. A perfect game to just have a great time with friends.