République starts off having the odds stacked against it, but delivers a fresh take on the stealth genre in a techno-thriller environment.
Originally released for tablet devices and in an episodic format, it was always a little uncertain how République would fare as a full release on a console like the PS4. After all, tablet games rarely take advantage of the control options that regular controllers offer – nor do they make use of the graphical horse power that a console has. Having originally been released in five parts, it was also interesting to see how the episodes would mesh together.
In reality, République on the PS4 is still a collection of episodes – a boxed set, if you will. The danger with this is that conventional game design is often altered to accommodate the shorter format. Instead of introducing new skills, enemies or puzzle types – the game just repeats itself and serves up a familiar helping with a new storyline on top. Luckily, République doesn’t fall into this trap.
The game is essentially a stealth action game, but you’re not taking charge of a character like Solid Snake. Instead, you’re “you” – a character who views the world through a series of cameras and hacks into security systems to help the game’s protagonist (Hope) on her quest. The game is probably best described as a mix of Metal Gear Solid 2’s aesthetics and the gameplay in The Experiment, also known as Experience 112. The latter is not that well known, but provided a nice look at a different type of game – a dynamic that has been heavily streamlined in République.
Despite the improvements that developer Camouflaj has brought to this creative niche in the stealth genre, the game’s controls do take some getting used it. This is perhaps somewhat surprising, because the game was originally designed for tablets – thus featuring relatively simple controls. The game’s problems stem from its use of fixed (security) camera angles though – where the game will often pick the best view of the action for you. This works well from a cinematic standpoint, but it does switch your controls around. Moving to the right when viewing from one camera will move your character the wrong way when the camera switches to another one down the hall. This can create small moments of frustration for you as a player, especially on your first playthrough.
In spite of little shortcomings like that (and the limitations that come with the conversion from what was once a tablet game), République spins an intriguing tale of technology, suspense and privacy – and it’s a story that’s delivered well. Playing as some sort of “voyeur” means you have a limited amount of control, but it’s just enough to make the experience an immersive one. We can’t wait for a virtual reality version of a game like this with voice controls – to really be the Chloe to your Jack Bauer. Until then, this is the next best thing for PS4 owners.