Also On: PC
Publisher: Gungho Online
If you're a cynical sort of person, you might only see Republique as a collection of influences. The art deco-inspired designs, the unseen voice guiding you through the world, the widespread use of propaganda: all of that is pure Bioshock. Likewise, you'll probably see Metal Gear Solid in every corner you sneak around and every guard you pickpocket. You may even be tempted to draw a line between this game's techno-paranoia and that of Watch Dogs, but you'll want to avoid that link, seeing as Republique's first episode came out on iOS about five months earlier than Aiden Pearce's adventures were unleashed on the world. That said, it's certainly appropriate to say that both games mine a similar vein of distrust of technology and surveillance that has been around since at least 1984 (the book, not the year).
If you choose to see Republique that way, and only that way, I certainly can't say that you're wrong. I mean, all of those influences are unavoidably present; there's really no getting around the fact this game isn't hugely original. However, even if Republique doesn't break much — or any — new ground, I don't think that means you need to avoid it entirely. After all, if you're going to steal, you may as well steal from the best (and again, we're not including Watch Dogs in "the best" category).
That's not to say, of course, that Republique comes anywhere close to matching the heights of its antecedents. While the mysterious facility that main character Hope is trying to escape echoes Bioshock's claustrophobic undersea city, it never quite feels as fully realized; all the lines are a little too sharp, and all the colours are a little too muted. Similarly, if you're a fan of stealth you'll feel like a sneaking god the first several times you tiptoe past oblivious guards, but that feeling of superiority will fade pretty quickly when you realize how stupid the AI tends to be.
The good news is that even if Republique doesn't do anything as well as its influences, it doesn't do anything poorly, either. Considering it got its start as a mobile game, it looks pretty impressive — far better than many of its peers that were originally conceived of as PS4 games, in fact. By showing all the action through security cameras, camcorders and smartphone cameras, the game has a built-in excuse for everything looking a little fuzzy, and it adds to the charm.
And besides that, Republique deserves credit for being a mobile game that made the leap to consoles without sucking. I mean, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD was a bit of a bust, Toukiden: Kiwami was better experienced on the Vita, and Table Top Racing was just plain awful. For Republique to seem like a natural fit for PS4 and PC is kind of a small miracle.
In all of this, I'm aware that I'm kind of damning Republique with faint praise: "It's pretty good…for a mobile game," and "It's good, but not as good as XXXX." But that's kind of the point: Republique is a solid game that aspires to be much more than that, but is done in by some built-in limitations. You certainly can't go wrong with it if you're not expecting the most amazing game ever, but just be aware that you may spend your whole time with it thinking of other, better games you could be playing.