Republique is quite unlike anything I’ve played in recent years and although I went in knowing very little about the game, I came out knowing little more than where I had started.
Republique is an odd game. You play as both an unnamed character who’s able to hack into cameras, and as Hope who you’re helping to escape from the facility, known as Metamorphosis, she’s being restrained in. Hope is going to be ‘recalibrated’ for reading contraband material and, as you quickly come to realise, Hope isn’t allowed to do much in the way of fun and lives a mundane and terrifying day to day life, and so she grasps at the chance to escape Metamorphosis once help comes in the form of you and Cooper, a Prizrak (an employee who maintains law and order in the facility) who is trying to help you escape despite the risk that he puts himself in, and you’re without knowledge of why Cooper is risking his life for you. It sounds far more interesting than it proves to be and although I’m sure some will enjoy the twists and turns presented, I never found them to feel engaging or exciting, instead I felt that there was very little plot at all and what was there wasn’t very impressive or well-written.
There are some unique gameplay mechanics in that you control both Hope and the cameras found around Metamorphosis, allowing you to jump from camera to camera to look ahead for enemies so that you can guide Hope to where she needs to go via crouching, walking and sprinting – although this latter option will alert any nearby guards. Controlling Hope can be a pain due to camera angles throwing off your direction so you walk back through the door you just came through which triggers more loading, and it quickly becomes frustrating. This is a creative way of playing the game and I really like the concept and, to a degree, how it was handled but I do have some problems with it. Other than some awkward angles that make it a tad difficult to jump to certain cameras, my main problem here is the ridiculously long loading times when going through doors or jumping through cameras – it could sometimes take a good 10-15 seconds to stop freezing and allow you to take control again, but this is a frequent issue as you’re going to be doing both of these things for the majority of the game. Other than that there’s very little in the way of gameplay other than pickpocketing, avoiding capture and searching for items that shed more light on the story, Hope and Metamorphosis. There’s plenty of problem solving and a few puzzles to get through though which mix things up a little, but expect more than a little slow backtracking due to the games stealth nature.
Republique was originally an iOS game and whilst it’s far from the best looking title on PS4, you wouldn’t have easily guessed that it was originally made for a mobile device. What really gives its origins away is the copy and paste NPC’s and the dated cinematics which, quite frankly, aren’t nice to look at. Metamorphosis does well in capturing an isolated, claustrophobic feel where you know that more than a few terrible things have taken place. There’s plenty of backtracking and reused assets that dilute the initial effect of the building the further you progress through the game. There are alternate outfits which I was rather fond of and these have an effect on certain mechanics in the game such as increasing difficulty or allowing you to sprint faster. The DLC was free when I grabbed it and also included a costume based on Kat from Gravity Rush.
Opting to go for an atmospheric experience instead, there is very little in the way of music and it’s mostly a silent affair. Sadly, the atmosphere quickly becomes stifled by loading screens and a slow story. Much of the spoken dialogue comes from NPC’s, Hope and Cooper, and I have no issue with the voice-acting which acts as the games high point with Jennifer Hale, David Hayter, Matthew Mercer and Rena Strober lending their voice to the game. Voice-talent as great as this doesn’t help make Republique a better game overall though, especially when much of the dialogue and story isn’t worth listening to.
Republique’s loading problems almost ruin the game entirely on their own as it feels you spend more time loading than actually playing the game, and when you are playing there are various gameplay issues that prevent it from being fun. I like the concept of Republique and the unique gameplay mechanics but it’s not a game I fancy revisiting, and it isn’t one I can recommend. If you want a game to scratch your stealth itch, then you’d be best off picking up something else as the stealthiest thing Republique does is try to trick you into thinking it’s any fun.