Republique Sneaks to Console - Remastered Review

Republique has been recently released as a remastered version for the Playstation 4 but it was originally an episodic release game for iOS devices back in 2013. Soon after the original release it was made available on Android, PC/Mac and now also for the Playstation 4. This ambitious mobile gaming title hit absolute highs especially with its well-known cast including Jennifer Hale (FemShep from Mass Effect) and David Hayter (Snake from Metal Gear Solid).

Although the game was originally set out as an episodic release, this recent remastered version for the Playstation 4 comes complete with all five episodes and they are all as follows:

Episode 1: "Exordium"
Episode 2: "Metamorphosis"
Episode 3: "Ones and Zeroes"
Episode 4: "God's Acre"
Episode 5: "Terminus"

Republique was developed by Camouflaj and Logan Games and is an action-adventure stealth video game where you will communicate with the main character 'Hope' using a mobile phone or computer to help her escape being captured. You, the player will hack and control CCTV cameras which are installed in the facility where Hope is being held. Using these cameras you will guide Hope along a safe path by scouting out ahead for guards and any other dangers. You will use a hacking system known as 'OMNI View' to hack doors to either unlock them so Hope can go through, or lock them to prevent enemies from reaching Hope. As you progress through the game you will be granted access to upgrades to the 'OMNI View' system which will in turn allow you to hack higher level terminals and doorways. These upgrades are made possible by selling Intel that Hope finds along the way via computer terminals.

The game is presented in a full 3D environment where you have full control over Hope. You will also have separate control of the CCTV cameras not too dissimilar to what you could do in Watch Dogs. While you control Hope around the environments, you will also need to pan the CCTV cameras around to keep Hope in view and also to see where the enemies are at. This can take some getting used to and will feel a bit foreign to begin with. By pressing R1 on the controller, the game will pause, allowing you time to work out a strategy and a path that you will need to take. While in this paused state you will be able to hack doors, terminals and also read short bios on the enemies and friendlies that are on screen at the time.

Due to the placement of CCTV cameras within the game's levels, it can get difficult to maintain your direction and it is very easy to accidentally get turned around which can get you lost or killed. Luckily, the included 3D styled map is very forgiving and works quite well to show you which way your camera is facing when you are checking out the map. There is one thing though that makes this almost not worth using and that is the process involved in opening up the map. You will need to first press R1, followed by pressing the touchpad, then you need to cycle through some other options (like your inventory etc.) to then get to the map button and then press X. Then you will finally be launched into the map. If you need to then go back to the game and move around a bit you will need to repeat this process each and every time that you want to look at the map. For me, this was often because I don't have the ability to commit a whole map to memory and without a constant mini-map on the screen I found myself needing to check the map every time I entered into a new room, and there are a lot of rooms that you need to go through early on in the game.

Republique is a very unique game that is very well made but for those that want more of the action side of a game, won't really find what they're after here. Hope can't engage enemies much more than using a burst of pepper spray on guards to effect an escape so you will be sneaking around a lot and looking at your map even more. The pace is slow, so slow in fact that I would often get frustrated and attempt to wing my way through areas but that almost always ended in failure.

The cross over to the Playstation 4 has been done in a way that you can still tell that the game originated on mobile devices, but it is scaled in a way that you are still happy to play it on the big screen. The graphics are presented nicely and the colours are vibrant. There are still some kinks in the armour that needs to be addressed for this to be a perfect port however. The processing power of the Playstation 4 should be oodles more than this game would need, but it still manages to chug in certain areas of the game. Whether it is serious frame rate drops or just locked up loading sections. For example, almost every time you switch a CCTV camera, which is a lot in this game, the screen freezes for a short moment before entering into the next camera. I feel that this would have been a good opportunity to create a great transition from camera to camera with an awesome effect, but it's left wanting due to poor optimising of the games engine on the Playstation 4. These gripes don't break the game but it does slow down the already slow pace of the game.

There is a very powerful narrative behind everything that is happening in Republique and the varying mediums used to tell it are brilliant. Spoiler free of course but the story has to be gathered from multiple places in this game. For instance when in 'OMNI View', certain posters and newspapers can be scanned which give a little detail to back story but the collecting of cassettes, banned books and contraband is where the story really deepens and verges on the darker side of story telling. So in order to experience the game at its fullest potential you will be required to have the patience during gameplay to pickpocket every guard and be very vigilant in checking every room for these collectibles.  

One thing that needs to be addressed, anytime it comes to the inner workings of this game is the overwhelming appreciation the development team has for the Kickstarter program and Indie game developers alike. There is a lot of referencing to indie titles and a few games from the past that have obviously served as encouragement to the developers chosen career path. 

There has been a lot of work put into this game to make it feel like a very grim situation with very little to no chance of success but this is where the game contradicts itself in a positive manner. The burn of being caught by a guard after an hour of stealth perfection is punishing but by no means game breaking. I haven’t alluded to this point previously but the developers have gone to the lengths to give every NPC a purpose and a backstory. With this backstory comes a name and after being caught it is very important to remember the guard’s name. Being caught is not the end of all your hard work, it merely means you are escorted to the closest solitary facility and you will have all of your contraband taken off you. This contraband I speak of here is everything in your inventory that has a practical use i.e. pepper spray, Taser, etc. and all these items can be retrieved by simply pick pocketing the guard that caught you. So given this little bit of freedom to experiment obtaining all collectibles therefor completing the narrative is not an impossible or grindy task.  

In summation, Republique is a crafty stealth game with some very real world dark overtones infused in its narrative. Couple this with the innovative 'OMNI View' gameplay mechanic and it's a very unique game. It has come across to the console generation almost seamlessly, hopefully a patch in the near future to help optimise loading and pauses in game will come and that will then give it the final 1% of polish that is needed. I highly anticipate this holding my attention for more than a single playthrough and that in today's day and age is very seldom. I would love to hear your thoughts on this game and any thoughts from those who have played in on a handheld device for a comparison. Feel free to leave them below in the comment section or across at our Facebook page.

Lucas / Red

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