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