Review

Republique Review

  • First Released Dec 31, 2014
    released
  • PC

Paranoid, but not an android.

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It begins with a plea for help, a closeup of a teenage girl's panicked face, clandestinely whispering about being "erased." Her name is Hope. You don't know why she's called you. You can't quite tell where she is. But you know she's frightened, and everything is horribly wrong.

We know this not because some omniscient narrator fills us in on the world in Republique's opening in-engine scene but in the same way you get all your information in Republique, a way that few games offer: you observe. You explore. The truth about Hope's new surroundings is out there, on the walls, in the newspapers, in the voicemails scattered around the game. Either the future or we're at least in a place with the future's technology. A foreboding "headmaster" sees all, assuring an unseen populace that all is still right with the world. Except clearly it isn't since you're surrounded by guards, people are smacking our girl around, blathering on about manifestos, the dangers of information, and the poisonous influence of a dead rebel named Daniel Zager, who sets the tone at the game's outset during the developer logos even more succinctly and ominously with a single quote: "I used to be angry at my government because I thought they weren't listening. Now I'm angry because I know they are." We are in a world of lavish accommodations, a place that resembles Xavier's School for the Gifted more than any sort of prison, and yet all the other telltale signs of a stone-cold prison are inescapable and in full view.

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

And so begins Republique, with a sense of supreme disquiet and a constant, ongoing bewilderment. It's that bewilderment that drives the game onward and keeps you guessing episode after episode through a mystery that's all too reluctant to hand out easy answers.

The dystopian nightmare is a compelling veneer for a rather simple stealth game when it comes down to brass tacks, though. Once you break Hope out of her initial confinement cell, your task is simply to keep her out of the hands of the Prizrak, the private security stooges milling about, keeping Pre-Cals--that is, the children of Republique--in their place, locked up, and under control. You do this by hijacking the thousands of surveillance devices scattered around the place, Watch Dogs style, and guide Hope from hiding place to hiding place, just beyond the sight of the Prizrak, hacking every piece of electronic equipment you can find, occasionally managing to improve your door access in the process. Republique's lineage shows here. Developer Camouflaj has a few Metal Gear Solid veterans working under its roof, and that game's stealth pedigree shows in the patrol patterns, Hope's hiding spots, and the more advanced reactions when the Prizrak spot Hope and give chase. The difference is that Hope doesn't have Snake's arsenal--or anything much at all, really. Hope can pick up pepper spray, tasers, and a landmine that puts the Prizrak to sleep. She can even pickpocket them from the Prisrak if she's clever. But for every item Hope picks up to just barely fend off being caught, the Prizrak get taser-proof armor and nerve gas. It's in character for the game at least since Hope is definitely shown to be a naïve character who wouldn't know anything about the subtle arts of murder and persuasion. But it means often feeling like Hope is hideously outnumbered and outgunned.

I used to be angry at my government because I thought they weren't listening. Now I'm angry because I know they are.

No Caption Provided

Or at least it would if getting caught meant death or punishment or higher security. Instead, losing means being marched, hands up, to the nearest confinement cell (these are, essentially, the game's save rooms), waiting for the guard to leave so you can bust Hope out. For a place that seemingly wants Hope dead and has no problem putting the boots to anyone who disobeys, they seem to handle Hope the way you would a bratty four-year-old, and it works every time. It doesn't make the stealthing around any less fun, and arguably, the infinite retries are often a blessing, considering the amount of Metroid-ish backtracking that you already have to do, but it does mess with the game's immersion.

Indeed, breaking the hypnotic, curious spell that the game can cast when it’s doling out more of the mystery is its biggest problem. When jumping from camera to camera, you have the ability to read detailed files on each of the guards, which would be a nifty touch, one that pays off in spades in the third episode, if not for the fact that most of the guards' files have a giant "Kickstarter backer" stamp under their country's flag and often reference their gamer identities. Early on, you start getting additional assistance from another Prizrak guard who calls and offers advice and information in emojis and a Stephen Hawking voice. He's a strong character, whose role in the facility is pieced together bit by bit and who just so happens to have floppy disks referencing fellow indie developers scattered all around the place as collectables. The game certainly has supporters in high places who deserve tips of the hat, but placing those smirking nods so shortly after Hope sees her first dead body or after watching Republique's media branch destroy a man's reputation feels wholly out of place.

The inquisition's here and it's here to stay.
The inquisition's here and it's here to stay.

It's only a stumbling block considering how great a job the game does of world-building for such extended periods. For most of Republique, our eyes and ears are just as innocent as Hope's, and every new room is ripe with opportunities to learn something new, to find a new piece of the puzzle of what we know about the Headmaster's plans and ambitions, the rampant, terrifying censorship and moralizing, the journalism-turned-propaganda-machine, the failed, or the hostile attempts by the Republique brass to engage the leaders of the free world. The stellar voice cast keeps us engaged from minute one, with every hackable device giving us brief, audio-only glimpses of the outside world and Republique's black-hat inner workings.

At the center of it all, literally and metaphorically, there's just Hope, a frightened girl who just wants to see the world outside Republique, and we can already tell that she is in for some hard times if she ever does. Episode 3 drops a few major bombs as to who and what Hope might be, and it's worrisome stuff that threatens to absolutely ruin a girl we're already forced to tread lightly with. One of the only moral choices in the game involves that very idea of how much of the world's worst lies on her shoulders. Where Republique's gameplay is satisfyingly simple, the plot driving it on is anything but.

The dystopian nightmare is a compelling veneer for a rather simple stealth game.

No Caption Provided

Needless to say, despite its mobile game roots, the world of Republique is meant to immerse, to beckon the your curiosity, and to involve you enough in the city-state's ins and outs to get Hope, our frightened girl, out of danger. The good news is that, in transitioning to PC, the game remains largely successful. All that remains is for the game's two remaining episodes to stick what is undoubtedly going to be a rough landing for everyone involved.

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The Good
Simple, intuitive and fun stealth gameplay
Great example of environmental storytelling
Compelling,engaging, well-plotted mystery
Excellent voice acting
The Bad
Lacks in tension due to the inability to fail
Frequent hat tips to its Kickstarter roots kill immersion
8
Great
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About the Author

Justin Clark got through all three available episodes in about 5 hours, spent a half hour frantically trying to find out if there was a release date for Episode 4, and 15 minutes screaming at an uncaring laptop screen that there isn't one yet.
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Avatar image for Ezioprez9709
Ezioprez9709

I like the Radio head reference at the start.

Avatar image for istuffedsunny
istuffedsunny

I tried really hard to like this game but it's just way too slow paced. Only try it if you have lots of free time and patience

Avatar image for omotih
omotih

okay, let me write this again ...


u all need to play this ... its intelectual ... its educational ... u dont kill anybody in this game


9/10 revolution is coming


bye

Avatar image for deth420
deth420

@omotih: what? intellectual, educational, dont kill anyone, plus the female protagonist is fully clothed....im out of here

Avatar image for tj3n321
tj3n321

@deth420@omotih: well...i guess...this can be made to a proper reason...XD

Avatar image for thekillchan
thekillchan

I wouldn't put the "lack of tension due to inability to fail" under THE BAD, and that's for 3 reasons:

- the simpler one: if a guard catches you, he will take away every weapon you have -> thus you have to get them back somehow when you restart from checkpoint OR search new ones in the facility

- this is not the usual "Metal Gear Solid 1" kind of plot: they won't try to kill you when you're discovered because it's a totally different story where they WANT you to stay alive. The reason of course is yet to be revealed. That aside, the principle is about the same as any other game: if they catch you and you can't escape, you're back to check point; the difference stands in how the devs handled this and Replique is much more realistic in that aspect.

- I don't know how casual gamers may feel about the point I'm trying to make, but as a fan of stealth games I feel like the main goal of such games is not to just clear it, but to clear it without getting caught once AND to fool the guards: in this game you can also pickpocket the guard without knocking him out, and that means a higher risk. If you approach the game with this state of mind you'll see EVERY room as literally filled with tension.

Avatar image for justinofclark
justinofclark

@thekillchan: Yeah, I can definitely see conceding this if the last two eps give a very good reason why they'd want Hope alive, and I feel like they're ramping up to that. Still, the thought "Well, could you guys at least handcuff her to a radiator or something?" is everpresent.

Avatar image for thekillchan
thekillchan

btw I meant "but to clear it without getting seen"

Avatar image for dylandr
dylandr

Want to play it but if you can't fail where is the fun?


Avatar image for leikeylosh
leikeylosh

It's exactly like the game The Experiment (or eXperience 112), but with refined gameplay. Unlike The Experiment, though, the backstory and storytelling are really good, which compels you to keep playing.

Avatar image for Oozyrat
Oozyrat

Pretty cool quote. I might check it out a little later on.

Avatar image for garfield
garfield

This has "overrated" written all over it.

Just a hunch.

Avatar image for leikeylosh
leikeylosh

The game is actually good, specially the storytelling. It's worth to hack e-mails and answering machines in the game to learn the interesting background story.

Avatar image for Cloud_imperium
Cloud_imperium

Was waiting for PC version. Will try it soon. Difference in visuals is huge.

Avatar image for timthegem
timthegem

A dystopian future with a girl named Hope. How very original.

Avatar image for OHGFawx
OHGFawx

@timthegem: Vona is hope in Icelandic, that could've been cool.

Avatar image for Butcer2
Butcer2

@OHGFawx@timthegem: vona does not mean hope , it means "hoping for" , von means hope

Avatar image for Butcer2
Butcer2

@OHGFawx@timthegem: no its not , thats von , vona is "hoping for "

Avatar image for miser_cz
miser_cz

@OHGFawx@timthegem: "Přízrak" means phantom/ghost in Czech. Coincidence?

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@timthegem:

I am going to guess that you are a fan of Mirror's Edge.

Avatar image for Xmus942
Xmus942

@timthegem:

Dumb point is dumb.

Avatar image for zeca04
zeca04

@timthegem: Yeah. Her name ruined the game. Do not want anymore.

Republique Remastered More Info

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  • First Released Dec 31, 2014
    released
    • Android
    • Google Stadia
    • + 5 more
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • Macintosh
    • Oculus Go
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    Republique is a stealth-action game that explores the perils of government surveillance in the Internet Age.
    7.9
    Average Rating23 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Republique Remastered
    Developed by:
    Camouflaj, LLC
    Published by:
    Camouflaj, LLC, GungHo, NIS America
    Genre(s):
    Action, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    Blood, Strong Language, Violence