Back in the early 2000’s certainly after the release of Konami’s Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Ubisofts Splinter Cell, it felt like any third person action game had to include a section of the game that required you to be stealthy. These were often the weakest aspects of those games as it tended be something that both changed the pace of progression and asked the player to do something that felt against the nature of that particular game up until that point.
Whilst playing Republique, I’m reminded of this time, not because of any �shoe-horning� of a game type into something else, but because its been a while since I’ve played anything remotely like this. The player is initially tasked with aiding Hope escaping from a prison cell and the building she has been entrapped in and to do this you have to avoid the detection of guards using a combination of the games default camera settings and Hope’s mobile phone that has an app installed to allow her to control CCTV camera’s to gain an advantage over her captors. It all sounds needlessly complicated but, having been initially developed for mobile platforms its genuinely not, you can happily ping around the various cameras in each room/hallway, get an idea of your surroundings,m investigate any items of interest that appear and the navigate Hope to the nearest exit.
You see, Hope needs to escape, her reasons aren’t just because she’s been incarcerated, but that she is also going to be recalibrated, she has gained access to literature that those in power deem to challenge their Orwellian control over the populace and they will use any means necessary to keep the people from uprising the oppression they have been placed under. In some respects it reminds me a little bit of another early 2000’s era game, Ubisofts Beyond Good & Evil, this is down to a number of things, the use of camera’s (admittedly done differently between the two as Jade in BG&E; is documenting the oppressors actions rather than escaping from them), the game having a female lead character and the fact you tend to be in a rather defensive position rather than a need to be on the attack all the time, avoiding confrontation is usually (or in Hopes case, pretty much always) the best option. It also feels a little French, which I cant explain why, but the game feels like the kind of work we would have seen from Ubisioft prior to them just becoming a publisher that releases an Assassin Creed or Tom Clancy game every year. I suppose the develop, Camouflaj, being from Canada plays some part in that (although I only discovered that after beginning to write this review).
I actually really like Republique, although I struggle to play it for long periods of time, even though it is broken down in an episodic nature I find it difficult to play through a good chunk of each episode in one sitting. I’d say this is partly down to the games rather oppressive atmosphere, you want to free Hope, just because the game and its setting does everything in its power to make you feel that way. I also think that my struggles with it are also down to its very mechanics, the camera’s aren’t always clear and its sometimes difficult to know what a guard is doing as they move behind scenery that you just cant get a good view of add in that Hope isn’t the easiest character to control, whilst the pace of the game is reminiscent of stuck behind someone in a town centre who just wont move out of your way and let you get on with your business. There’s room for improvement here, but Republique, as a rather rare example of the stealth genre now, is actually a decent attempt at an entry into the genre and certainly rises above elements that used to get tacked onto other games, like that ridiculous stealth section in Atari’s Fahrenheit.