Republique review

  • Stellar presentation
  • Superb voice acting
  • Intuitive controls
  • Bland main character
  • Lack of consequence for failure
  • Doesn't really feel like a stealth game

You want to learn a strange recipe? Mix together one part Metal Gear Solid and two parts Broken Age. Then pour that over a nice solid layer of George Orwell’s 1984 and wait for it to settle. Add just a dash of The Hunger Games and you’ve got yourself Republique, the debut iOS game from Camoflaj studios. The first episode is definitely a unique brew, but it isn’t always all that palatable.

Playing Republique is an...interesting experience. You control an anonymous hacker helping a teenage girl escape a mysterious, oppressive ”Republique.” Thanks to the cameras mounted, seemingly, on every wall, the player can scout the area around the girl--named “Hope”--and order her to move from place to place. Navigating and interacting with the world is easy, thanks to an elegantly simple control scheme. Dragging your fingers across the screen pans the camera you’re using, while tapping on the screen causes Hope to move to that location. Hidden data logs and interactions are clearly indicated to the player, so you’ll never have to hunt for pixels to figure out what you need to be doing.

The hype leading up to Republique emphasized stealth and intrigue, but you’ll quickly realize Republique is essentially a point-and-click adventure game with the merest gestures at stealthiness. A big part of that feeling is the tiny penalty for detection. If Hope is caught by a wandering guard, she meekly submits and follows the guard to a confinement cell. Which you--being the amazing hacker that you are--promptly free her from. Sure, you’ll lose an item or two, but they really aren’t all that important anyways.

Not that you’ll really care what happens to Hope--she’s the grand sum of every Damsel in Distress ever created. Her only expression seems to be a pleading stare at the camera, and half of her dialogue amounts to “please help me.” Part of the problem is that the relationship is so one-sided--the player has no way to actively communicate with Hope, so there’s really no chance to develop any sort of relationship. It’s possible that Hope will get fleshed out a bit in later episodes, but for now, it’s hard to be sympathetic for a character with all the personality of a barbie doll

Of course, Republique isn’t entirely without merit. For one thing, the actual interface is pretty good. Swiping the screen from side to side to move cameras and tapping where you need Hope to walk feels elegant and natural. Sure, there’s the occasional hiccup when you send Hope right into the arms of the bad guys--it’s easy to accidentally tap the screen--but outside that, the control scheme feels surprisingly natural. Give it a few minutes, and you’ll be hacking cameras and computers like a pro. You’re getting a solid three to four hours of content out of the first chapter (there appear to be four additional episodes in production), so the $5 you’ll spend on Republique isn’t a bad value.

Camoflaj clearly took great pains to make Republique look as good as possible on a limited budget, and they put the Unity engine to stellar work. The interior of the Republique is at once shockingly oppressive and disarmingly corporate--the fake plants and bland room layouts contrast with the grey palette and multitude of cameras. All of the characters--but especially Hope--are smoothly animated and look about as good as you’d expect from a mobile device. I know it’s old hat to remark how far iPhone graphics have progressed, but Republique really might be the benchmark by which all other “AAA” mobile games are judged.

Unfortunately, beauty really can’t cover up Republique’s other issues. For a game that is as story-fueled as Republique, the lack of an interesting protagonist to root for makes it hard to hold on to. Without some sense of humor or an engaging character to latch onto, Republique ends up feeling just as hollow and lifeless as Hope herself.

More Info

Available Platforms: iPad, iPhone
Genre: Adventure
Developed by: Camouflaj, Logan Games

If you’re interested in Republique purely as a tech demo, its smooth animations, realistic models, and excellent touch-controls would have you raving. Unfortunately, the story is so shallow and the central character is so bland that, despite a top-notch supporting cast, Republique’s narrative simply can’t carry the weight of the game.

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  • Zepaw - February 6, 2014 10:45 a.m.

    I'm holding my judgement until the next episodes because it has a lot of promise. Tech demo is a good term for episode 1, it feels like they were just getting familiar with everything. It has a promise of more but If the rest are as bland it will be a real disappointment.
  • shawksta - February 5, 2014 9:26 a.m.

    Im still interested in this game though, might try it.
  • shawksta - February 5, 2014 9:26 a.m.

    Feburary is starting with a bunch of mediocre titles, make sense given the more bigger shitstorm thats gonna happen near the end of the month
  • gilgamesh310 - February 5, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    Okay. This review is just rubbish. There is far too much emphasis placed on Hope as a character and not enough on the game itself. It shouldn't matter how much of a personality the character has as long as the game is good. I actually think Hope is an interesting character. She doesn't say all that much but things like her design, the way she moves around independent to the player during gameplay and the things she says when passing by guards and stealing things from them make her fairly interesting. She's probably not as strong as some of the other characters mind, but there wasn't even a mention of them. The story itself is good and very well told. If you're going to heavily criticise a game for story elements at least do it properly. Also, this game came out over a month ago. What's with only reviewing it now?

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