Republique – Episode 1: Exordium
Mobile gaming is undeniably a big part of the gaming industry at this point, but many titles lack the polish and depth of console and PC offerings. With République, Ryan Payton and the teams at Camoflaj and Logan are hoping to bring a genuine triple-A experience to mobile devices. In some ways, the attempt succeeds. Its production value and visuals are among the best on the App Store and it features an interesting, 1984-inspired setting, but some awkward stealth mechanics and AI issues keep it from reaching its full potential.
This first episode introduces us to Hope, a sentient AI who’s in danger of having her memory erased by the authorities at Metamorphosis, a containment facility. Her background and the details of the overall universe of République are almost entirely a mystery in this first episode, which manages to plant some intriguing seeds for future installments. Story is one of the driving focuses of République, and fans of Metal Gear Solid (which Payton previously worked on) will certainly see that series’ influence.
Like that long-running stealth series, your objective in République has far more to do with staying away from guards’ lines of sights than with confronting them directly. Hope can use tasers and pepper spray as defensive mechanisms, but your best bet is to stay as far away from the baddies as possible.
Unfortunately, the focus on stealth leads to some of the main frustrations. Without a direct control option like consoles offer, you’re forced to lead Hope around with taps of the screen. Tap a box to duck behind it, tap a door to enter it, double-tap the screen to make her run, etc. It works most of the time, but it can be aggravating to be captured by a guard because Hope’s AI caused her to get to a hiding spot in a way you didn’t intend. Her AI isn’t the only downside, as the guards operate on very strict, predictable paths that feel more mechanical than organic.
All of the action is viewed from behind a Big Brother-like series of security cameras, which the player controls. Hope occasionally looks directly at you through the lens and talks to you, but your communication with her is mostly relegated to hacking doors open and telling her where to go. It’s pretty cool to view the entirety of a game through a security system, but I occasionally got tired of constantly having to pause and switch perspectives to a new camera.
République is an ambitious title that plays better on a tablet than a phone, but you’re bound to run into a few control hiccups regardless of the device. This first episode doesn’t clear up much of what’s happening in the world of République, but it’s presented with a level of production value that I've only seen rivaled by Infinity Blade on iOS. If you can forgive some frustrating control and AI issues, République’s first episode is an intriguing start to this ambitious episodic title.
If you can forgive some frustrations, Exordium is an intriguing start to this ambitious episodic title.