Originally an iPad game, Republique brings stealth action to home consoles – it’s good, but I can’t quite shake the feeling that it would be better played on an iPad.
Typically my approach to video gaming is to rush in and go shooting. I don’t know why this is exactly, maybe impatience – maybe desire just to get in on the action. So you’d think stealth games wouldn’t be for me, but when I get my hands on one it’s like a polar opposite of myself. Tactical, sneaking, creeping around – I’m in my element with these and will try in all cases to be a complete stealth master.
Yet even the pace of Republique is enough to test my patience. Whilst it is a stealth game, it’s really more a story driven experience set within the backdrop of a stealth action game. But before we get to the gameplay, the story deserves a mention. It’s really interesting – set in a near-future where censorship, surveillance and ‘big brother’ are all around. The heroine of the piece – Hope – turns to you for help. Yes, you’ll be controlling her movement but you have a role as a character here as well, behind the control of the various cameras and door operations in the environment to help Hope move around. This is a nice touch although probably more suited to being on a tablet. That’s clear on the interaction with the game – big circles highlights things you can ‘touch’ to a activate with the controller used to move Hope around and that’s pretty much the limit of the gameplay with this. There is some physical interaction you can have with guards if you have a pepper spray equipped.
It’s more of a participative experience. As you control the cameras and move Hope you need to ensure that you don’t stray into any guards. If you do it’s an ‘insta-kill’ and you’re transported back into a secure cell to escape and being travelling around again. My issue here was with the line of sight of the guards, I would often be able to creep by the side of them but in front of them – even across a long room as a no go. They have a very limited peripheral vision but incredible distance, a very long and narrow field of view.
This takes a back seat to the story as you discover items around the world and various tapes that help explain what is going on and puff out the conspiracy. It’s a story heavy experience that was not what I was expecting although thankfully the story is interesting enough to keep you playing even if the actual ‘gameplay’ isn’t. I do wish that the mechanism of moving around were smoother though. Hope’s controls are fine but there’s a second delay every time you switch camera. I’m not sure if this is a technical limitation or a deliberate affect to promote the realism of you operating these cameras in real life, but with the tech on show I would expect it to be instant. It would certainly make for a less frustrating experience.
There’s a lot of start and stop in the story that mirrors the gameplay. You have the ability to pause time while you scan the room for things and make your decisions on where to go but this just adds to the start-stop nature of things. Some may find this frustrating (I did) but those seeking a decent story driven experience probably won’t mind too much.
There’s a fair bit of backtracking but if you’re invested you may not mind. For me I felt like this pushed the limitations of how slow and steady I want to take my games but I can see there’s some fun and interest to be had here.
Reviewed on PS4