Republique tries to accomplish many things, but mostly sets its mind on simplifying stealth controls to work on a touch device. It executes that task with great aplomb, but not without some problems. For me, most of these problems arose from my want to interact with the game more than I should. For my first 30 minutes or so, I wanted to do more with Hope than the game allows. I quickly learned that in terms of gameplay Republique is not built that way. It is instead a much more slow paced, methodical experience. The game lets you pause the action too make decisions after all, so I should have expected this, Once you wrap your head around that, there is fun to be had.
In terms of story, it chooses not to dwell as much, telling an ample origin story and setting up many strands that should be tugged at in the future. Let’s not forget this is just one part of a multi-episodic tale after all. In terms of laying groundwork for something that could pay off, it does a solid job. It debuts interesting locale, and introduces many characters during its short run time – the most distinct being one that interacts with you using only the dulcet tones of Microsoft Sam and various emoticons 0_O. It is impossible to review a game based on what I want it to be in the future. Nevertheless, there does seem to be enough here to go any number of interesting directions in the coming months. The developer, Camouflaj, have not written themselves into a corner, and I feel they could go any number of interesting directions in future episodes to weave their chosen tale.
One of the more unique parts of Republique is how you interact with it. You are not physically part of Hope, the central protagonist’s, world – you can only interact with her through tech and can only see her trough cameras . This facet of the game’s unique gameplay is best illustrated when Hope wants to talk direct with you. She uses her phone to call your phone (there is a good chance you should be holding one of those if you playing the game). You accept the call, and Hope then talks to you in a pseudo-Skype style panicked conversation. Of course, no actual real-life camera is used to achieve this, but because the game is being played on a device associated with that tech you get the feeling of experiencing more interactivity than there genuinely is. It’s a pretty solid trick though – even if I feel Hope’s always uncomfortably close to the camera while talking – kind of like someone’s grandma that does not fully understand how this VoIP nonsense works. To be truthful, I don’t think anyone does. Magic?
It was those moments that I ended up liking most about Republique. It makes solid use of the platform it found itself on. Getting a call on a Codec never felt all that special in the Metal Gear Solid games – but the one time I had to check the back of the CD case to find a frequency to contact Meryl was a magnificent moment. Similarly, having one’s mind read and controller shook were pretty impressive, although in-reality simple to achieve, feats too. While Republique does not have anything to truly match those moments, it does a great job of using its chosen platform to the best of its ability – like those tricks did – making time with the game feel just that little bit more compelling. An endeavor to provide more moments like that has to be appreciated, and I hope the series takes further steps in those directions as it develops in coming episodes.
Regardless of all the totalitarian themes used, and the gameplay tricks implemented, Republique is still a stealth game at heart, and as a result that might be enough to push some people away. It does not try to appeal to the lowest common denominator by throwing in action scene fluff – akin to the new direction the Splinter Cell series has taken in recent entries. For a modern-day stealth game, it is one uniquely still focused mainly on the sneaking. However, there is much to do to keep you entertained along with that. It’s a game that makes you feel like you’re an expert multi-tasker, trying to keep a multitude of plates spinning at once -but in reality it is never asking too much of the player at once – mostly due to the game’s well implemented, but still limited touch controls. Perhaps that’s yet another good trick it manages to pull off.
Game creation is not about big names with sky high ideas. It is about teams of people with the ability bring those idyllic notions into reality. Regardless of having the Ryan Payton name attached (who is a name you most probably know ), the team around that name (whose names you likely don’t), crucially do their jobs well. They have worked and expanded on the original plea that dawned on Kickstarter 20 months back to create a game that is today perfectly playable. With stealth based gameplay, a slight air of an escort mission, and touch controls all looking to trip them up, they come out almost unscathed. If nothing else, that alone should be seen as a victory.