Republique PS4 Review - There's Still Hope

For the most part, I try to stay as far as I can from mobile to console ports. It just seems like these ports never live up to our standards and expectations. That's why I was more than cautious going into Republique. By the time I was done, I was pleasantly surprised. And while the game doesn't come without its flaws, it's one of the most unique stealth games I've played in a couple of years.

So what is Republique all about? Well, it's an episodic action-adventure stealth video game. In it, we find ourselves in "Metamorphosis", a totalitarian facility in which the Prizrak, the guards of the state, perform mysterious experiments on "Pre-Cals", people who were born and raised in the facility. One of these people is a woman named Hope. She somehow manages to contact you (the player) through her phone, and you begin to help her escape Metamorphosis.

Now, as soon as I started playing the game, I fell in love with the aesthetic. It's very George Orwell's 1984. The tyranny the state imposes over its citizens, the cells that the rebels are put in, the cameras, computers and posters sitting everywhere, the dark color palette. Everything fits, and the result is a very creepy, realistic atmosphere. It helps you get immersed in the setting, story and characters.

Another thing that shocked me is just how smooth the transition from mobile to console is in this game. Like I said before, a part of me believed the game was going to be a disaster. But I was wrong. Seriously, this feels like a console game that was exclusive to the wrong platform for about a year. The visuals look crisp, the controls are easy to understand, and the voice acting and interface are pretty neat.

Hands down, my favorite part of the game comes with the unique storytelling. Republique is divided in 5 different episodes. And as soon as the end credits started rolling (10 hours), I was extremely satisfied. Even though the game takes place in the future, the story feels so relevant in today's world. It poses some important questions regarding power, censorship, and hope. The funniest part? Even if the plot is a crucial element of the game, you could play through the game while missing most of the narrative.

Indeed, outside of a cinematic sequence at the beginning and end of each episode, the majority of Republique's story is told through audio logs and other collectibles Hope finds throughout the game. Some of them paint a better picture on the inhuman experiments being done, which makes you care about the situation and world. However, others objects are there to bring a smile to your face (game cartridges with other indie titles like Shovel Knight, Gone Home and Axiom Verge). Every now and then, you'll find a supercomputer that allows you to purchase upgrades and new skills. The more items you collect, the more credits you receive. The game encourages you to slow down and see everything it has to offer. It's so refreshing to tell a story without the constant use of cutscenes. Developer Camouflaj attempted it, and I'm glad to say they succeeded.

Continuing the trend of refreshing game making, time to analyze the gameplay. Let's start with the positive. It's original. I'm so used to stealth games copying the Hitman formula: big, rich environment, multiple ways to complete the objective, take down enemies and steal their outfits to access specific areas. It works, we get it. But having a different take on how a stealth game should be played is a much appreciated change. Republique plays in a very interesting fashion. There are two different dynamics. The first one involves Hope. You move her with the left stick, and you're able to crouch, run, and attack the enemies. The second one is a lot more interesting. You (the player) are able to hack Metamorphosis's security system, allowing you to control cameras and distract guards. When you combine them, you get a pretty fun, meticulous experience. You use the cameras to track your enemies' movement, and wait until it's safe in order to move Hope without being detected. Sadly, the experience is affected by a lot of frustrating gameplay nuances.

Let me make this clear: Republique doesn't have a BIG mistake. There's nothing that ruins the experience or makes it unplayable. It's just a couple of frustrating issues that hold the overall game back from it's full potential. First off, the cameras. This is a problem I always have with games that make you control the camera: it doesn't fully work. Because each camera has a fixed angle, every now and then you'll be detected by a guard when you had no idea he was even in the room. This might be a result of the limitations the mobile platforms present, but it's not ideal. Also, the cameras bring rather annoying, and unnecessary loading delays when one camera switches to the other.

Lastly, I have a minor problem with the constant backtracking Republique makes you do. Some doors are locked until you upgrade Hope's software enough to unlock higher level doors. It's an artificial, dull way to extend total playtime, and it can be quite frustrating. And the constant Kickstarter references kept breaking the immersion. Literally, 30 minutes couldn't pass without the website being talked about.

Verdict: Republique's incredible aesthetic, storytelling and smooth presentation is more than enough to justify the occasional frustrating gameplay flaws. Stealth fans are bound to enjoy this one.

The Good
- Fantastic Asthetic
- Smooth Presentation
- Unique Storytelling

The Bad
- Frustrating Gameplay Flaws
- Kickstarter References

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