République first launched back in late 2013; a runaway Kickstarter project that graced iOS devices and impressed, thanks to developer Camouflaj’s successful condensing of a console-quality experience. Now, years later, République takes its rightful mantle on console, in a re-release that reaffirms the quality of the product.
As the gameplay evolves with progression, so too does the story, becoming a tangled web of conspiracy.
République is somewhat miraculous in its ability to feel quite so unique, as it draws from a pretty vast pool of inspirations. Many of these are literary, but the most notable on the video game front are some of our all time favourites: Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid and Bioshock. Remnants of each are ever present in the setting, characterisation, tone, story, visuals, sound, gameplay - everything, really. The rich dystopian locale actually manages to rival the respective Spencer Mansion, Shadow Moses Island and Rapture; a character of its own and another example of deft environmental storytelling.
Hope isn’t totally helpless as you guide her through the harsh world, with lootable tasers and pepper-spray canisters helping to even the odds on the occasions your stealth-oriented directives aren’t quite tactically sound. If you’re caught without these means of defence to hand, you’ll be escorted to a nearby holding-cell and your possessions confiscated, though escape and reacquisition - through pickpocketing the arresting guard - make the process more of an inconvenience than a threat. As the episodes progress, patrols become better equipped to both resist and arrest, donning protective clothing and equipping sleep gas grenades to take you down from a distance.
If you take the time to unearth dirty laundry by reading documents, hacking email inboxes and listening to voicemails, it can be sold to a black market vendor reminiscent of Resident Evil 4’s beloved merchant. Thereafter, you’ll be able to purchase OMNI View upgrades that provide a range of benefits and further tools to help in Hope’s escape. Just be aware that employing their use will drain battery power, so, just like in real life, you’ll want to avoid certain applications if you aren’t near a charging station.
An intelligently written and well-acted game that raises many a burning question.
As the gameplay evolves with progression, so too does the story, becoming a tangled web of conspiracy. You may elect how many strands to follow, as it’s up to the player to discover half of the context independently through exploration, and the consumption of the the written and audio data uncovered. Whether you choose to do so or not, République is an intelligently written and well-acted game that raises many a burning question - though if you don't like religion, social and political issues brought into your entertainment, you may not appreciate it.
The literate, thoughtful and inventive story of technical advancement vs morality unfortunately derails somewhat in the hugely departed fourth episode, and leads into an equally predictable and nonsensical finale that leaves many loose ends left untied. You won’t be left with a clear picture of any form, and we don’t doubt that’s to encourage fine-toothed-comb replays and online conspiracy theories, but that doesn’t make the latter chapters any more satisfying. It’s a shame, as we were deeply invested before things gradually fizzled out towards the end; yet with that said, despite the destination, the journey’s definitely still worth taking.
Despite its gameplay flaws and slightly botched ending, République is a compelling and innovative journey, ever complemented by its ambient future soundtrack. Holding up outstandingly (outside of some ugly character models) for an ageing mobile game, it reminded us of some of our favourite moments in gaming, and more importantly, why we fell in love with gaming. As such, it’s easy to recommend you at least give République a chance to shine - you just might fall in love with it.