Republique may have gotten its start as a mobile touch-based adventure game, but you’d hardly know it when you play the game on the PlayStation 4. Developers Camoflauj and Logan Games have done an excellent job of adapting the title from touchscreen devices to console. That's not to discredit the original iOS and Android versions, because they are critically acclaimed for a reason. But the transition to PlayStation 4 is so successful that the five-episode series isn't bogged down in translation, and it offers a brilliant blend of exploration, storytelling, and world-building.
A Dystopian Story of Hope
The story of Republique spans five episodes, some more popular than others, but all of them largely enjoyable. I won't detail each episode in depth because doing so would spoil important story beats and forcibly give away some episodes' endings — not to mention it would make this review a tad too wordy. Suffice it to say that the way the episodes tie in to one another to tell an overarching story is enthralling. If you dig dystopian fiction, you're going to want to see this particular tale through to the end once you get started.
In Republique, a young woman named Hope is being held prisoner by a militant group known as the Prizrak. Desperate to escape, Hope seeks outside help ... from you. She's able to communicate with you through her phone, and it's up to you, with the help of Prizrak guard who's not exactly feeling their way of doing things, to help her navigate through the compound in which she's being held captive.
Communicating with Hope through her mobile device isn't as novel in the console version of Republique because, well, you're playing with a controller and most likely viewing the game on a large HD set. That quirky phone-to-phone novelty is lost here, but it doesn't take away from the experience — it's just a noticeable indicator that this was originally a mobile title.
At first, the story is shrouded in mystery — you won't know exactly what's going on initially, but rest assured that pivotal details will quickly unfold. Scattered throughout the game are audio logs, journal entries, and propaganda that dig deep into the lore of Republique. While I made sure to seek out such clues in order to consume as much of the game's lore as possible, doing so isn't necessary. Well-voiced cutscenes do a great job of filling you in on exactly what's going on, and they're not overly abundant so as to break your immersion.
The writing and characters in Republique are strong, and the strong voice acting helps to enhance the narrative. I'm certain the story and dialogue would've been fine if they were relegated to antiquated text boxes, but because the characters' delivery is so rich and the performances are top-notch, the story is much more pleasing to take in from start to finish. You can actually hear the sense of urgency in Hope's voice, and whenever a new villain is introduced the voicing works so well that you immediately want to see them taken down.
A New Discovery at Every Corner
Even though the storyline helps create the game's world and build player intrigue, the whole thing would've been a lost cause without solid gameplay. Thankfully, the stealth adventuring you'll be doing throughout the five episodes is delightful, for the most part. You navigate a lot of tight corridors and avoid plenty of patrolling guards — doing so is just a means to an end, though. A lot of the time, you have to sneak around the watchful Prizrak army in order to reach a bigger room that hides a big reveal or unlocks the next major area of the map.
The bigger areas usually have you messing around with Hope's OMNI device to either hack a locked door or mess with the Prizrak's plans somehow. At first, you can only unlock certain doors and perform limited tasks with the OMNI device, but as you play, you unlock more features, which in turn allow you to open even more doors that lead to new areas with more secrets and story advancement.
Camera control is one of the biggest gameplay components in Republique. As one of Hope's only allies and means of escape, you're tasked with guiding her through the Prizrak compound. Aside from actually controlling her using the DualShock 4, you also have to man the compound's surveillance systems. There are cameras everywhere, and because they're fixed, you have to constantly switch between them while also moving Hope along the different areas.
I initially worried that controlling both Hope and the surveillance cameras would be a jarring exercise, but it all works mostly seamlessly. There were times where the controls played tricks on me as the camera shifted from a front perspective to a top-down view, but this was only ever an issue on a handful of occasions when I was spotted by guards and immediately had to flee.
A Mobile-to-Console Success
It's common for games to go from consoles to mobile devices. It's not often, though, that a game makes the jump from smartphones to consoles. Republique is proof that, with the right game, such a transition is actually pretty awesome. I don't know that I would've played through all five episodes on my Android phone because I don't play too many mobile titles. But with the game on PlayStation 4, I became an instant fan and was more than happy to delve deep into the five-part adventure.
Admittedly, I do wish the visual quality had been increased just a bit. Not that Republique looks bad on PlayStation 4, but it definitely doesn't look up to par when compared to other games on the platform. Aesthetically, though, it still succeeds in creating a cold, cruel, hopeless dystopia. The riveting gameplay, interesting story, and superb voice work then help to build upon that environment, and these elements collectively take you on an immersive journey that's grim to witness but impossible to turn away from.