At first glance, République isn’t something you’d expect to find on the AppStore. From the fully rendered 3D environments to the impressive cast of voice actors, this game has all the trappings of a larger indie title, and it certainly doesn’t feel as though it’s suited to mobile and tablet devices, or even that they could run it very well.
But République is magic, and the game is perfectly suited to a tablet device, perhaps even more so than any of the touch screen puzzlers or point and click adventures which are available. République is a stealth game – one of the most enjoyable and least punishing I’ve played, at least on the easier difficulty option – and it’s a story which you’ll want to see unfold, as we’re three fifths of the way through this episodic adventure.
In République, you play you, looking through the CCTV cameras of a highly secure facility and interacting with a girl named Hope, who seems to be prisoner in this dystopian labyrinth. It’s a version of co-operative gameplay where you have to help the in-game character by moving her around and hacking into things, with her completely aware of your presence. And it’s so brilliantly executed, making the story much more immersive and the fantastic set of characters feel ultimately quite real.
République is a dystopian game. It merges the modern sections of Assassin’s Creed with the stealth and futurism of Metal Gear, and there’s quite a bit of Killzone’s setting in there too. But it’s not trying to copy those games or pander to their audiences; it achieves what it sets out to just as well as any of those games.
It does get off to a slow start, however; the introductory episode is quite intriguing, but fails to do anything outstanding, essentially taking you through limited environments with abundant stealth sections. You can feel the potential though, and thankfully episode two smashes right through your hopes and delivers something which manages to correct almost all of the complaints that you might’ve had with the first one, without repeating itself.
The second episode brings puzzles, from simple problem solving to more complex affairs, such as collecting details from a library to use for the security questions on a computer, in order to get a PIN code and progress to the next section. Then episode three takes this even further, with the security getting tighter as Hope makes her way to freedom. You won’t be able to sneak past this security, so an unusual alliance has you finding evidence and creating headlines to get the guards arrested and therefore moved from their posts.
It sounds silly, but it really works in the context of the game, and plays with the cult-like tendencies of the organisation behind the place, who are keen to remove anyone immediately, even if it does pose a risk to security. It also makes you question if what you’re doing is right, and takes the story to the next level. If episode one was the introduction to stealth, then two was the puzzles, three is the point where the plot is really taken up a notch, and it turns République into an almost essential experience.
There’s a beautiful continuity to the game, too, with the overarching plot not being the only thing linking the games together. République is all about information, which you’re able to access by hacking into guards’ profiles, audio logs, newspapers, emails, and so on. There’s even developer diaries which you can listen to by finding them hidden in the environment with just a tap of a button.
Once you’ve upgraded your hacking tools – some upgrades using the information you’ve collected as currency – you’re able to return to sections in the open area or even go back to previous chapters’ locations, getting you through doors which you wouldn’t have been able to access before. Here, you’ll find even more information and backstory, and all of this really fleshes out the world in the best of ways.
And that world looks and feels superb too – there’s a great attention to detail with the environments, with fantastic visuals for a game on the AppStore, as well as some great sound effects with voice acting talent from big names such as Jennifer Hale and David Hayter. The developers have clearly taken care to make sure your immersion is never broken, with fantastic ideas employed such as guards taking Hope to a holding cell when caught rather than just restarting the area.
République isn’t just superb in its own market, showing other tablet games how it should be done, but great compared to many gaming experience – even those AAA ones on your shiny new consoles. It has many traits that you wouldn’t expect to see in an indie game, never mind one that’s only on mobile and tablet devices currently, but these are executed perfectly and it feels at home on the platform.
Episode one might not do enough to grip you, but by midway through episode two you’ll be alert and ready, and then when you reach episode three you’ll be fully immersed in the game world, with enough back story to last you for a good while, and plenty of replayability through collectables.
Since République has improved on itself massively with each episode, I really can’t wait to see what’s next. And every episode ends on the perfect note which leaves you satisfied but ultimately wanting more. I can’t wait for episode four, and until then, I’m just going to have to go for that 100% completion in the first three chapters.