When you think “third person stealth”, you’re probably thinking about some manly-man macho type with a mustache and an assortment of gadgets fighting the good fight, snaking around top-secret facilities and splintering cells. You’re probably not thinking about a lanky young girl, more scared than anything, armed with nothing but a canister of mace. Well, Republique is going to try and change that, on behalf of lanky girls everywhere.

Republique’s protagonist is a young girl named Hope. She lives in what can easily be described as a page from Orwell’s scrapbook: the dystopian world of Metamorphosis. Led by a Big Brother type fella and backed by some grey-uniformed police, Metamorphosis is a place where words like “Re-programming” and “Erasure” get tossed about rather casually, and nobody’s talking about computers.

In fact, one of the things Republique does well is create a world for the story to take place in. Whether it’s the constant propaganda spewing from loudspeakers or the constant surveillance, there is never a moment you can feel disjointed or disassociated from the world. Backed by graphics that are fairly decent for a game originally out on mobile, Metamorphosis does a good job of making you feel like a small and insignificant pest in an otherwise perfect machine. At least that’s what they want you to feel.

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All the surveillance and constant soul-crushing do serve a purpose, because you’re not just playing as Hope, but as a mysterious hacker who tries to help her as best as the situation allows. Republique is quite unique in that regard – we certainly had games that allow you to subvert security for your own purpose and we most certainly had games where it’s all about ducking a camera’s cone of vision, but we’ve yet to have a game where you do both, as two separate characters, simultaneously. I’ll explain.

Playing Republique lets you control Hope directly as she slinks about Metamorphosis, ducking under chest-high walls, into cabinets, under desks and so forth. However, you always view the situation from a nearby camera – which is also how you scout ahead, hack locks and do whatever cyber-shenanigans you can get away with to keep Hope safe and sound. The combination definitely takes a while to get used to and I’ll admit to a certain degree of frustration when I couldn’t get my view juuuust right, but overall the formula is pretty solid and results are satisfying.

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It’s a given that a game like Republique has to have a good story to keep players going or the novelty of voyeurism will wear off rather quickly. Unfortunately, while Republique’s story itself is actually quite interesting, the method by which it is delivered is tired and overdone – through collectibles. As you look around the world through the many cameras placed in Metamorphosis, you will be able to scan various items to reveal some scraps of information. Anything from a warning poster to a discarded piece of paper can be a storytelling piece and it grinds the game to a halt – instead of discovering the world, you spend far too much time examining rubbish or pickpocketing it from oblivious guards.

I say “oblivious” as an understatement because guard AI is probably the game’s biggest weak point. One memorable event where I was too slow to pick a guard’s pocket led to him turning around, bumping into Hope and… walking along his patrol route. We’ll just chalk it off to fatigue or something. I had a few other embarrassing moments such as this, and by the time I was done with the first chapter all sense of danger flew out the proverbial window. Not only were the guards incompetent, getting spotted rarely had a consequence worth mentioning between Hope’s trusty pepper spray and the Tasers people keep leaving sitting around in plain view. Even locks can apparently defeat the average guard as I ran off to the next segment and simply shut the door behind me to stop pursuers dead in their tracks.

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The game manages to keep your attention for the first 3 chapters before going completely off-track in chapter 4 and slamming into the peculiar conclusion wall by the end of chapter 5. Strange changes in mechanics, removal of certain key game elements, dropping weird gimmicks – it all feels like the latter half of the game was made by a completely different team that didn’t get the notes from their predecessors.

For a game coming from mobile, Republique does some things well – mainly the story and the world which are quite good for a solid half of the game. Unfortunately it simply doesn’t yet have what it takes to play in the big leagues – there is a distinct lack of polish as you near the halfway mark when things just break down. A fully-developed sequel is something I would play, but this game is sadly mediocre at best.


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