Republique: Remastered – Review
Many a gamer has been sweating on the re-release of Republique. Developed by Camoflaj and Logan Games, Republique was released episodically on mobile platforms in 2013, before finally migrating across to PC in 2015 and PS4 this March. Unlike the other platforms however, the newly released PS4 version wasn’t released episodically with all five episodes releasing simultaneously with a 15 hour experience. It’s a different way of consuming the game, one that originally was delivered in pieces to gamers, but it begins with a plea – a plea for help that drives a very different experience that puzzles just as much as it intrigues.
We’ve played games in first person, third person, top down, isometric and a range of other perspectives, but have you ever played a game through the lens of a camera? I would suggest in the overwhelming majority of cases the answer to this question is no, and it’s this that provides the core structural support to Republique. We know very little about Hope, the youth that we’re introduced to in the opening minutes of the game, but the answers are out there, and as this ever lingering digital presence, you have the ability to escort her out of danger and learn answers to some intriguing questions that drives a constantly evolving narrative. Episode by episode you will be doled out small titbits that hint at bigger picture answers, but the answers don’t come easily and you’ll be left baffled on numerous occasions by a mystery that continually evolves.
My biggest question going into Republique, as I’m sure it will be for many readers was regarding the gameplay of this remastered title. Originating on the mobile platform where touch based controls are the interface of choice, it was obvious that the game was going to need some work in order to successfully transition across to more traditional platforms, and this is the source of many of Republique’s problems; where handling was slick on mobile, it is clunky and sticky on the PS4. At its core Republique is a stealth game, but when you’re sticking to desks then falling off them and crashing into a guard while trying to pick-pocket them then the experience is not nearly polished enough. The saving grace when it comes to these poor controls is that there isn’t really a fail state. Should you get captured by a guard you are returned to a nearby cell, and it takes only a matter of a minute before you’ve escaped and returned to the scene of your capture.
Despite there being some flaws, there is also quite a lot of depth to the gameplay. As the entity on the other end of the security camera lenses you can switch from camera to camera with a simple button press, scope out the threats that may lay ahead and then guide Hope through the environment to safety. When you can actually pickpocket someone you’ll manage to steal floppy disk based version of recent classic games such as Gone Home, Shovel Knight and Destiny with a couple humourous lines to go with the discovery, the same applies to books that you can find and other hidden collectibles.
Republique has been incredibly well realised. An excellent looking game on mobile, the game received a significant facelift for the PC and PS4 and while not eye-bleedingly gorgeous, the artistic design of the core game carries it onto HD systems with ease. The dystopian, nightmarish setting of Republique is suitably oppressing and evokes the feeling of claustrophobia that the cramped environments are designed to extract The dialogue is good enough but its thanks to the efforts of an excellent cast of voice actors spearheaded by Jennifer Hale and David Hayter that it resonates as much as it does. The game has a dry humour that at times grates but rarely overstays its welcome and drives you to uncover more mysteries. The times it may frustrate however are when it repeatedly reminds you of its Kickstarter origins – it will beat you over the head with this excessively.
Republique does a lot of great things but is hamstrung the most important component of any video game; the gameplay. Perhaps a patch or two might fix the sticky, clunky feeling but don’t let it detract too heavily from an experience that engrosses and intrigues at nearly every turn. It does some clever, inventive things, and doesn’t overstay its welcome, so while not a must have game, it’s certainly one that if you have a few hours up your sleeve is worth exploring.