By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on March 30, 2016
Donít you just hate it when a government takes away every bit of freedom you have and tells you what to think and feel? I know I do! Alas, this is exactly what happens in Republique, a grim tale of a dystopian future, not unlike George Orwellís 1984 (of which I am a huge fan). Lucky for us, there are those who resist such a regime and try to make the world free once more. Letís join them and overthrow this totalitarian state, shall we?
Originally released for iOS back in 2013, Republique puts the player squarely in the shoes of Hope; a girl, born and raised in a government-controlled facility, aptly named Metamorphosis. Hope is found guilty of reading subversive literature and sentenced to be reconditioned; a process aimed at turning free minds into docile slaves. This, of course is not what Hope was going for but, as is often the case, the ruling classes couldnít care less what other people want and press on with their plan. The situation is completely hopeless for our young female protagonist. Or is itÖ? While sitting in her cell, Hope somehow comes into contact with you, the player, and asks you to help her break out of the facility. Naturally, we are rooting for the underdog, so, with a little help of a Metamorphosis employee named Cooper, we set out to aid Hope on her quest and start looking for freedom (cue David Hasselhoff).
Although the previous episodes of Republique were released over a period of two years since December 2013 and have been since ported to Android, OS X and Windows, developers Camouflaj and Logan Games, together with publisher GungHo Online Entertainment, have just gotten around to finishing and releasing the final episode on March 22 of this year for each of these systems. But thatís not the only cause for cheer; at the same time, a remastered version of the game is released for the Playstation 4, containing all five episodes of this bleak, futuristic story. If that isnít great new, I donít know what is! But letís not get ahead of ourselves here...
So, what exactly is Republique? Well, this is kind of hard to narrow down. Best I can come up with is a stealth, story-driven action/exploration and puzzle game. That doesnít quite narrow it down as much as some of you might like, does it? I personally think a more succinct and to the point description of the game would be ďA very, very, VERY cool game!Ē I must say, it took me completely by surprise; Iím sorry to say that I never played an episode of Republique or even saw footage of the game before last week. Does that make me a bad man? No, other things make me a bad man, but we wonít go into them at the present time. Itís just one of those games that somehow got past me without noticing. Let me assure you that I am very glad I did notice it this time around, because Republique is absolutely a one of a kind game.
Unlike other stealth games (of which I have played quite a few over the years), Republique doesnít let you control the on-screen character as you normally would. Sure, you tell her where to go at times, but you wonít be walking around like youíre used to. Instead, you take control of the environment around her; hacking cameras, locking and unlocking doors, reading confidential emails or listening to voicemail messages. The combination of all these elements letís you chart a safe course for Hope to take, without being spotted by any of the guards (if you do it right, that is!). If a guard does notice you, heíll pursue you until he loses sight of you. In the event of capture, Hope isnít completely without weapons. Along your way, youíll find tasers and cans of mace, each one good for a single use. So if a guard does catch you, you can either mace him or send enough electricity through his body to light up a dozen Christmas trees. Either way, he is instantly incapacitated and will let go of you, creating a chance for you to escape and hide. Cans of mace incapacitate guards for a short duration of time, while tasers will knock them out for the remainder of the day. If you are, however, in the mood for a more permanent solution, then mines are your best bet. These can be placed in the path of a patrolling guard. Just put them down, hide, wait for the unsuspecting sucker to step on them and let the mines do what they do best...
But first, letís get back to the basics; how do we control the environment? Simple! We just use our Omni-view; a program that lets us hack virtually everything that uses electricity. With the press of a button, the game goes into Omni-view mode; a mode that pauses the game and lets us highlight various devices. Just put your cursor over the device you would like to hack and hold the appropriate button. Or, if you are playing teh PS4 version, just push the button, corresponding with the item you want to interact with. If, for instance, you are hacking a camera, your view will change from your current position to the point-of-view of the hacked camera. Then, we can control the camera by moving it around or zooming in and out. If we were to hack a door, your view stays the same, but you are able to unlock or lock that door, clearing a path for Hope, or trapping a guard inside a room. You can only open doors with a value that is equal or lower than the Omni-view version you currently possess. If a door shows the number two when in Omni-view mode, youíd better have Omni-view version two, or the door just wonít budge. So itís important to upgrade your Omni-view whenever you get the chance.
Accessing the Omni-view also enables us to browse through Hopeís inventory, look at the map or check out collectibles youíve picked up along the way. Your inventory does what every inventory does best: hold your items and enable you to equip or use said items. You map is your best friend; it shows you the waypoints of your current objective and can even be upgraded to show the positions of enemy guards. The collectibles fill in the blanks of Republiqueís extremely well-written story. Other collectibles will not go into your inventory, but can be sold at certain terminals. The funds you gather can in turn be used to buy upgrades at these same terminals.
Republiqueís story is one of oppression, thought-control and the fight for freedom. It has quite a few nice twists and turns that keep you on your toes and, more importantly, keep you playing, simply because you definitely want to find out what happens next. The gameís visuals look fantastic and really suit the grim totalitarian future in which the game is set. The difference between the wealth of the Prizrak (the ruling classes) and the hopeless situation of the Pre-Cals (people born and raised in the Metamorphosis facility), is depicted extremely well and makes you care about the characters; a not entirely trivial aspect of story-driven games, in my opinion. The voices used in the game are, as far as Iím concerned, spot on for each character and are provided by a cast of seasoned actors, my absolute favorite being Dwight Schultz as Headmaster Kenichiro Treglazov.
So yes, it has taken me a while to discover Republique. But now that I have entered its world, I just donít want to leave! And would you like to know why? Iíll tell you why: Republique is pure digital awesomeness! This truly amazing game reels you in by telling a really good story, filled with awesome characters and plenty of twists and turns. I found myself rooting for Hope, not only because I had to guide her to safety, but mostly because of the injustice of the whole situation and the unwarranted acts of cruelty and thirst for total control of the government. And no; Iím not an Anarchist, but enough is enough! So I say itís time for everybody to rise up, sit down behind your computer, phone or console, and start playing Republique!