Developer: Muse Games
Publisher: Curve Digital
Genre(s): Multiplayer, Action, Puzzle, Platformer
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam, PS4 and Xbox)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 23/09/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Embr is a brand new co-operative firefighting game that is now available on the Nintendo Switch. Will it ignite your passion to put out blazes and save civilians from towering infernos? Or will you watch it all burn? Let’s take a look into the world of Embr and how it plays on the Switch.
Call the Fire Brigade!
From the very beginning I thought I was going to love Embr as it reminded me of one of my favourite PlayStation games I used to play a long time ago, called Rosco McQueen. It was a third-person firefighting game that saw you running around burning buildings and trying put all the blazes out on each floor. Embr has a little more variety but stumbles in the execution. Here you’re in a first-person perspective and entering different houses/factories/restaurants, putting out fires and saving civilians, plus doing a lot of other activities like rescuing furniture, searching for cash stashes or even destroying properties; all while trying to earn one of five flames/medals for each mission.
When you begin the campaign you go through a short-ish tutorial teaching you the basics of how to become a firefighter. From breaking down doors with your fire axe to using your hose and finding water outlets to replenish your supply, to even learning how use secondary items like ladders and trampolines among a host of other items that can be purchased from the Embr shop (with earned currency from completed missions). Choppy performance here wasn’t a good start and was something that would be persistent throughout.
From the world map you select various different missions and then districts once you’ve earned enough medals, which will allow you to unlock even more areas to play in. While each mission has a main drive or objective to complete there are lots of secondary ones to complete too, you will unlock further mission types by earning more medals.
I found most missions had a lot of variety. While some focused on just saving civilians or putting out fires, there were even special missions that had you trying to escape certain areas before everything burnt down. Sometimes you would have to use your brain to solve puzzles, like using a few metal oil drums to conduct electricity through them to open a security door for example – keeping things interesting.
At the start of the campaign it’s clear there’s a lot to unlock in Embr. There are costumes for your character which come in parts, such as a helmet, gloves, a jacket, pants plus boots; giving your character different looks and some passive abilities like more fire resistance, for example. There also loads of items to buy such as ladders, jet packs, water bombs, and even different vehicles. These can all be arranged in the loadout screen so you can pick and choose the best equipment for the mission at hand, which is very useful.
Some of the equipment can help you out in a pinch, such as the fire extinguisher when you’re low on water in your main reserves, or when you need to get civilians down from a great height which would normally kill them. If you throw them out of a window, by making sure you place a trampoline at the bottom, you can ensure they will bounce harmlessly to the ground without any major fatalities.
One thing I did enjoy in Embr was the realistic hazards, such as back-drafts, electric fires and how you needed to approach each differently and put them out in the right way using various different equipment. It was definitely a unique challenge as you progressed in your firefighting career through the main campaign. Using the right tools for a job and many upgrades allowed you to overcome the many obstacles that Embr throws at you.
Solo and Online Play
The solo campaign allows you to play through twenty-five missions, through three districts that slowly unlock by earning medals from completing missions and secondary objectives (which will allow you to explore further challenges). The game does have an online component but it’s a choppy affair and after several hours playing in the solo campaign I couldn’t bear putting myself through a night of more wonky bugs and laggy matches that made want to throw up. It’s a crying shame as there is a lot of content here to enjoy and a lot of stuff to unlock. It’s just all bogged down by poor performance.
One of my biggest complaints in Embr is the lacklustre frame-rate throughout the game. Also, wonky controls which feel incredibly floaty and sometimes unresponsive. The game gave me really bad motion sickness because of the inconsistent frame-rate that seem to fluctuate throughout my time playing. I also encountered quite a few bugs, like civilians clipping through the walls, part of the environment disappearing when you were a few metres away and slow-down in areas where fires where prevalent. It just doesn’t run right, which is a shame as the game does have a lot to offer. The performance is such let-down, it made me physically ill playing for any longer than an hour.
Embr should be a great title to play, but it isn’t. If you’ve always wanted to be a fledgling firefighter there’s stuff here to enjoy, but the game’s performance is below par in my opinion and anyone like myself who suffers with motion sickness should definitely keep away. For the rest of you, there’s some fun to be had if you can stand the heat.
Rapid Reviews Rating
2.5 out of 5
You can buy Embr in the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.