I do not enjoy stealth-action games. Kickstarter success story République is a game with deep roots in the Metal Gear Solid franchise -- the pinnacle of the stealth-action genre. Why am I enjoying it so much? It's a matter of perspective.
You see, I am not sneaking in "Exordium", the first episode of République. Hope, the doe-eyed lass attempting to escape an opressive totalitarian state, is the one doing all of the sneaking. She's the one crouching through corridors and tiptoeing past the guards roaming the halls of the Metamorphosis facility.
Me? I am the one in control.
I am the Morpheus to her Neo, guiding her through the facility via a contraband cell phone. I take control of security camera to scout ahead. I unlock doors. I read emails, and scan documents, intercept messages and set off alarms. I tell her where to go, and when to go there.
While some of the industry's top voice talent (David Hayter, Jennifer Hale, Dwight Schultz) give life to the character populating this possible future, I am the guiding force that moves everything along. One could say the same of any video game, but in République it's never been quite as true.
Hope sees brown corridors and imposing guards, I see camera viewpoints to hop between and objects to interact with. In my bluish-grey world time stops. I work in-between moments to facilitate her escape, uncovering bits and pieces of a compelling story along the way.
Since I am the camera, camera controls are never an issue. The mechanical eye possession mechanic is a clever way to handle camera controls in the 3D adventure game -- there is no need for virtual analogue sticks here. Guiding Hope is just a matter of tapping where I want her to go, simple commands that rarely go wrong.
It's a heady mastery République gives me over my environment and Hope's actions. What the game does -- clever, clever game -- is give me the same amount of control over the situations presented as its totalitarian regime has over its populace. I assume total control to help a person escape total control. It's enough to make one dizzy.
Fortunately, or more accurately unfortunately, République always manages to choke me in the shallow water of reality before I get too deep.
Picking the pockets of the guards, for instance, rewards me with Atari 2600-style game cartridges representing other popular mobile games. These populate a gallery, complete with links to iTunes, should I wish to purchase them.
There are blatant calls out to other Kickstarter success stories.
And then there's the unfortunate side-effect of Kickstarter success -- backer rewards. While spying on guards, I have the option to click on them to bring up a biography. These are populated by Kickstarter backers who donated large amounts of money to the game.
It's not a bad feature at first. Then this happens.
Immersion killed. Dead. This is something for developers to keep in mind when assigning Kickstarter tier rewards in the future.
République has a pretty big future ahead of it. This initial $5.49 release is only the first of several episodes (season passes are available as in-app purchases for $15.99), and the game is also being ported to the PC and Mac, where maybe someone can mod out the silly Kickstarter biographies.
République is off to a pretty spectacular start. As long as the series maintains the momentum of this first episode and continues to distract me from the fact that I am, indeed, playing a stealth-action game, I shall consume the remaining chapters ravenously.
Genre: Stealth Action, Only Different (Better)
Developer: Camouflaj and Logan
Platform: iOS (PC and Mac in the works)
Price: $5.49 for the first episode