By Tyler Lubben / March 26th, 2015
|Release Date||February 26, 2015|
|Age Rating||N/A – Presumed Teen|
République Remastered is not what I thought it would be when I first fired it up. That isn’t to say that the game wasn’t fun or challenging, but, as someone who is generally out of the loop when it comes to mobile gaming (I don’t even own a tablet), my expectations were clouded by my preconceived notions of what a stealth game is. My opinion, painted by such games as Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid, is there are just certain things that you expect when you play a stealth game; specifically that, even if you aren’t particularly good at sneaking, you can overpower your opponents and clear the room, making the prospect of “stealth” in its purest form more of a suggestion than a requirement. But enough about what I expected – let’s talk about what I got.
République is an episodic stealth game originally released on iOS back in 2013. It centers around a fictional, but realistic, world in which a malevolent secret society called Metamorphosis rules over its subjects (which, as far as I can tell, is a bunch of teenagers – like a weird, dystopian Hogwarts) through indoctrination and monitors their every action through a network of security cameras and other recording devices. It is against this backdrop that we are introduced to the game’s main protagonist, a young woman designated as 390-H, though she refers to herself as Hope (Get it?!). Hope is referred to as a “Pre-Cal,” born and raised in Metamorphosis. While she originally seemed to be a somewhat-willing participant of the République experiment, the game opens with her being imprisoned by the Prizrak, the Metamorphosis security force, for possessing and reading certain banned texts. This apparently-unforgivable crime has doomed Hope for “recalibration” which, while not explicitly explained, is likely to be one of two outcomes: good ol’ fashioned brainwashing or straight-up death. So, with this wholly unattractive proposition before her, Hope wants nothing more than to escape Metamorphosis and reach the world outside.
One might expect that, since she is so central to the story, Hope would be the character that players control. Well, this is only half true. As it turns out, players are put directly into the game as some unnamed hacker who characters in the game will directly address. Rather than a third-person view that follows Hope, players will use various security cameras dotting the game’s environments to get a look at her surroundings, keep track of guards patrolling the area and hack different electronic devices for information on items and passwords that may come in handy.
Hitting the Space Bar activates a special mode known as OMNI Vision which freezes time and allows players to interact with the many electronic objects in the game. From here, players can jump from camera to camera, allowing them to move around freely, not unlike the way Aiden Pierce would hack cameras in Watch_Dogs. The difference here is that players do not have free reign to look as far as they want. Since the player is technically tethered to Hope’s phone, the farther away one gets from her position, the more static that begins to appear on the screen. This goes about the distance of a complete room before players are blocked by a static-y blackness.
Once players have a good feel for their surroundings, they can tell Hope to move by clicking anywhere in the environment. For the most part, this mechanic worked well for me. Hope moves slowly and quietly, so as to avoid attention of guards. However, double-clicking will have her move more quickly, though nearby guards will investigate the loud footsteps.
While merely clicking around normally wouldn’t normally match the nuances of using WASD controls and a mouse, or even a controller, much of the micromanaging is taken over by the game as necessary. If Hope is in a position where a guard may see her as he patrols, she will automatically move around to avoid his gaze as he approaches. This makes maneuvering around things like round tables and statues, which would normally require a lot of clicking to stay in an optimal position, much more manageable, especially considering that the fixed camera angles wouldn’t always make this possible to do effectively. Aside from simply ducking behind cover, Hope can also hide in lockers, inside small gardens and behind large decorations along the walls.
As a teenage girl, Hope isn’t really equipped to take guards head on (or even stealthily in most cases), but she does have access to a few tools and abilities that can help even the odds. First is her pickpocketing skill, which is available from the beginning of the game. When this skill is selected, Hope will automatically approach a guard and attempt to steal whatever the guard has in his pockets by simply clicking on him. It’s important to have a handle on a guard’s behavior before attempting this, though, as she can easily get into trouble if she’s noticed before finishing this action.
Fortunately, Hope is able to pick up a few items to aid her when a confrontation is unavoidable, including cans of pepper spray and tasers. Pepper spray, when used on a guard, will blind him for several seconds, allowing Hope to quickly escape the area or hide before he recovers. Tasers, on the other hand, will (as far as I can tell) permanently knock out a guard. Finally, there are sleep mines, which are pretty self-explanatory. Using these mines is the only way to incapacitate guards wearing anti-taser armor and facial protection against pepper spray. There are also air vents that Hope can use as shortcuts between rooms, but only if she has a screwdriver to open them up. All of these items are single-use, though, so they’re really best used sparingly in case of emergencies, as the only way to replenish your supplies is to find more while exploring.
Meanwhile, getting grabbed by a guard while empty-handed can actually be helpful at times. When this happens, Hope will be taken to the nearest holding cell. This would normally spell the end of a prisoner’s escape attempt, but, of course, most prisoners don’t have a hacker secretly working behind the scenes to help them succeed. Unlocking the door is simple enough, but the real advantage to finding these holding cells is that they often contain a console that allows the player to contact the Data Broker. This mysterious individual will offer you money (or some kind of Internet Fun Bucks?) for the information you pick up while exploring; guards’ passports, newspaper clippings and other such findings. You can then use this currency to buy additional hacking abilities that will help Hope along the way. Some of these will allow you to view more of the game’s lore, like listening to recorded phone conversations or reading e-mails (which will then net you more money when you turn them in), while others will help Hope get around more easily, such as highlighting a guard’s patrol route, being able to see guards through walls or activating electronics in a room, causing them to break from their patrol route to investigate. Most of these skills use up some of Hope’s battery, so you’ll want to use them sparingly. However, it’s simple enough to replenish the battery again at charging stations found in the holding cells or by using single-use battery packs you’ll find while you’re out and about.
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