Game review: République is a stealthy little number, although not completely successful
This smart release captures some of the joys of the stealth genre, but unfortunately its conclusion feels rushed and out of keeping with all the good stuff that’s gone before
Good stealth games are hard to find, especially as our gaming world stretches its boundaries into bigger, bolder and more attention-seeking territory. That’s why we were excited about République, a game created by former Metal Gear Solid developers and said to have been dedicated to that franchise’s glorious early days, before unbearable cut scenes and bizarre gameplay tarnished its original intentions.
The game was originally released in episodic form on the PC, but we’re not big on patience when it comes to releases we like, so we ignored the urge and waited for this PlayStation 4 edition. Are we glad we did? Yes and no.
Set in a futuristic totalitarian state, République cleverly utilises the Big Brother-like world, so that you never really play as its main fugitive character, Hope. Instead, you’re you, hacking into the world’s computer systems from afar and controlling surveillance systems as you guide her through the dystopian labyrinth that is Metamorphosis.
The game is certainly inspired by the original MGS and others late-’90s stealth favourites, but it’s just as equally indebted to that era’s early forays into survival horror: Resident Evil, Silent Hill and the like. Stilted camera angles, strangely random puzzles and Hope’s stiff movements are an interesting homage, but those so-called “influences” often feel frustrating, especially when the camera angles rotate in a maddening automatic cycle or the game descends into a series of fetch quests.
We can deal with all that, though – we’re grown-ups and have handled this kind of stuff for decades. What we can’t stand though, is an episodic game that isn’t structured. The point of episodes is to build the story slowly, to create a proper arc for your characters. The developers didn’t seem to take note, completely ditching République’stone, gameplay dynamics and many of your hard-earned abilities for a rushed ending that feels more like something out of a bad James Bond movie.
That said, the game is a still decent stealth adventure and did have our ’90s nostalgia riding high there for a little while. Frustrating focuses on long-expired gameplay and a fascinating plot that eventually stoops into stupidity might hold it back a bit, but we’re still waiting for stealth to make its long-awaited comeback (not going to happen, we know) – and until it does, République will have to suffice.