Today I finished Episode 3 of Republique so I finally feel I can talk about it!
It's an excellent game and everyone should play it. I will even state that the game is the most rewarding gaming experience of this year! (I even got the Season Pass!)
Anyways, what it is. It's basically a puzzle platformer, in the same vein as Abe's Oddysee (the Prizraks are almost as stupid as the guards in that game), in which you have to solve puzzles and guide HOPE through each room and area safely. Usually stealthily, so that she isn't caught.
You play...you. The idea is that HOPE has somehow stolen a mobile phone with access to the outside world and called you for help, so when you are not looking through security cameras and hacking computers for info, you are sometimes being addressed by her directly talking to the camera phone. She can collect weapons like pepper sprays, but they aren't limitless so it's better to have her sneak past enemies. Except every Prizrak guard has a game cartridge and sometimes a screwdriver available for stealing, so the game actively encourages you to sneak up behind them and pick their pockets. The reason why I said almost as stupid, is because with each episode there is a new and smarter enemy type: more responsive to noises, walks randomised routes etc.
Lots of thinking and exploring. I should also add that the background music is excellent, so sometimes I am tinkering away at a literal puzzle while enjoying the music.
As for the story...it's amazing! The reason why I write out the name HOPE is because none of the children in the place actually have names, just designations. Hers is 390-H, so she inverted the numbers to make a name for herself. The game implies this to be a common practice among the children. HOPE herself is actually a teenager, but she is always referred to as a Pre-Cal. She is in a closed-in society; no one knows where this place is located but it so far contains a school, security force and a media team. I assume some scientists are somewhere as well, since there is a lot of fancy tech about. So the reason HOPE needs your help is because she has been caught breaking the rules and wants to escape before they "recalibrate" her. They haven't gone into detail what kind of process this is, but an audio clip I've found does confirm my suspicion it involves erasing a person's memories.
Anyway, you have this basic setup but the story is a lot more intricate. Add in an assisting Prizrak with a conscience (the game still hasn't explained why the security guys are called Prizraks), an authority figure with a false identity and unexplained motives, a shameless and ruthless journalist, a sympathetic librarian, a pupil gone missing, a hidden rebel with an unknown identity, the Overseer (who founded and leads the place) and an outsider journalist who had somehow managed to break in to the society and attempted to spark a revolution, before he had been gunned down. Said outsider had recorded several tapes, which were voiced by David Hayter in probably his best ever performance, since they are so damn entertaining. (The revolutionary is never wrong, per se, but he clearly has some mental issues.)
So yeah, lots of plot threads and mysteries.
Anything bad? Well, I couldn't help but notice it takes a gigabyte of memory on my phone. The reason for the size is pretty clear though; all the game sprites are animated people with captured emotions and facial expressions, plus voice acting and a bloody huge location map. It easily rivals the quality and size of a console or PC release. This does bring about a few problems, however. I have noticed that the game sometimes crashes if it doesn't load properly, plus when I open a game and resume the previous save the loading...takes...ages. I also find it rather annoying that sometimes, if I leave the game to check a different thing on my phone...well if it's just checking a text or the time, no problem, it stays open, but if I check my email or Whatsapp, then the application shuts down and I have to start it up again. How irritating -_-
What also irritates me is...what on Earth is HOPE even wearing? Is it a baggy jumpsuit? A shirt tunic over canvas trousers? Cotton pajamas? I honestly can't tell.
This game was also a crowd-funded project...yep! Kickstarter brought them the cash to get this game made. The head of the team is Ryan Payton, who had previously worked on Metal Gear Solid 4 and his friendships with the voice actors meant he could ask them to play some of the parts in Republique (clearly a factor in David Hayter performing since he had given up professional voice acting a long time ago, with the exception of playing Solid Snake). The reason why I bring this up is because it is fascinating to see the various mistakes the young gaming developer made as a team, in their attempts to get this game released. For one thing, they had had difficulty getting the redeeming codes for the game out to the Kickstarter pledgers who were owed a free copy. This is a more concrete and exact example of one of the many many many things that had gone wrong with the production and distribution of this title, since it actually fits in with the assumption that Camouflajj as a studio (and Ryan as its head) had made about how much 'support' Apple would offer them on their platform. The thing is, mobile gaming is like PC gaming: there is no support for developers. Console manufacturers offer support since their hardware has certain inflexible specifications, PC manufacturers don't since their hardware is not gaming-centric, so creators can use them but can only receive so much assistance as an average customer (or maybe extra assistance in their dealings with the store itself, but not much more). The difference between PC-gaming and mobile gaming though, is that PC-gaming is a much older art, plus PCs are more versatile than mobiles (there's a reason most mobile games are simplistic or look cartoonish).
The only reason I bring this up is to make you aware of a bizarre bug. After Episode 3 had been released, the App Store had asked if I had wanted to purchase Episodes 2 and 3, despite my Season Pass being on display in the game. Giving up on waiting for an announced fix, I "purchased" the episodes anyway and found that no money had been charged. That was...a very confusing Apple bug.
[EDIT: Apple did charge in the end, so I had to report the issue, then get the refund. They refunded my money after checking my purchases and saw I had the season pass. It took about 2 months for Camouflajj to reply to my email and report they are aware of the bug and gave me a possible fix. Will keep in mind for episode 4.]
So yeah, be aware of strange bugs and incidents like this. Personally I would chalk up any problems discovered to the Camouflajj studio being inexperienced and that the game itself is hugely ambitious.