Republique is a stunning example of how far mobile games have come since the days of Snake and Solitaire, showing that touchscreen titles can also boast slick presentation and compelling gameplay, just like their big console brethren. Here’s our review of episodes 1-3 of this iOS/Android game…
On paper, Republique sounds like a cross between George Orwell’s 1984 and classic stealth games like Metal Gear Solid. It begins with a girl called 390-H, who unsurpisingly prefers to go by the name of Hope. You find yourself inadvertently watching her in her tiny room via the wall-mounted security camera, as some shady characters known as Prizraks give her a royal bollocking for reading banned literature and threaten her with ‘recalibration’. Sounds like a pretty crappy start to the day.
All is obviously not well, but you (as a faceless, nameless protagonist) quickly realise that you can hack into Republique’s computer network and help Hope to escape her terrible fate. Not only can you zip between the many all-seeing security cameras, but you can lock and unlock doors, access confidential data, set off distractions to lure guards from their posts and plenty more besides.
It’s this hacker mechanic that adds a unique twist to Republique’s gameplay and makes the game so compelling (aside from the gritty totalitarian storyline). You’re never in direct control of the girl, even though you can instruct her to move by tapping on the environment. Instead, you must try your best to guide her unharmed through all kinds of sticky situation by using the limited tools at your disposal.
There are five episodes in all, with the first three currently available to download. Each episode lasts around two hours, if you take your time, and although the core gameplay doesn’t change much as you progress, there’s plenty in there to keep Republique compelling.
For a start, the story is a cracker. From the offset, there’s little in the way of clunky exposition – Republique’s world is revealed in chunks as you guide Hope onwards, and each slice of imparted information usually raises even more questions. Who is this mysterious Cooper figure who is so keen to help you? For that matter, who on earth are you? Each episode ends with a suitably climactic cliffhanger, driving you to the next with uber-efficiency.
Presentation is another strength. The likes of David Hayter and Jennifer Hale lend their vocal talents and bring the sub-characters to life, while graphics are gorgeous enough to belong on a full console game.
Then there’s the little touches that make Republique even more interesting. We love how you can ‘level up’ your abilities by exploring the world and finding interesting hotspots, which gives you new hacking skills such as the ability to see guards through walls.
We were happy to see a sprinkling of humour throughout the game too, mostly supplied by the chirpy Cooper, who communicates via a robot voice and emoji graphics. Dystopian futures rarely offer much material for chortles, but Republique always finds time to throw in a gag, such as the security scanners which aren’t just being used to seek out weapons.
It’s also nice that the developers have added hidden commentary spots throughout each episode, along with full making-of videos, which you can unlock by buying a season pass. These are occasionally best avoided on your first playthrough as they can get a little spoilerish, but it’s an extra incentive to play through again afterwards.
If you’ve got the patience for a carefully crafted stealth game, Republique is bound to delight. You can grab a season pass now for roughly a tenner on iOS and Android.