I think if we all had the opportunity to help someone in need, we would do whatever we could within our abilities to try to help. Sometimes we are put to the test of what our abilities can truly be. But what if the type of help that was needed, allowed you to help more remotely without being seen? How far would help if your own identity may not be revealed? It’s interesting to think about what we might do in person vs not having our identity revealed? But does developer Camouflaj bring the multilayered political stealth-action thriller into Virtual Reality? Let’s find out with Republique VR: Anniversary Edition for the PlayStation VR.
Republique VR: Anniversary Edition is a stealth-action thriller where you receive a call from Hope, a woman trapped inside a mysterious totaliration state. By hacking into the nation’s elaborate surveillance network and taking control, you will guide Hope through a web of danger and deception. So before you go in and try to save Hope, there are a few things that you will want to know about. First, stealth plays a major part in this, so take your time and don’t rush. Second, I do not want to spoil anything for anyone, so any gameplay that I show will be from the earlier episodes. And finally, set some time aside and just have some fun with it all. With that said, let’s continue…
When you first start the game, one of the things I noticed was just how well the setting takes place as you playing someone who is a hacker and seeing your setup from your backlit keyboard to the monitors to even the ceiling fan above really helps set the mood and really looks good on the PlayStation VR. Then when you are ready and start the game, you will want to select your outfit from her jacket with a hood, the short sleeve outfit that will allow you to walk, run, and stealth faster, the Prizrak outfit that will allow you to avoid detection by walking normally and keeping a distance from other enemy Prizrak and has you equipped with an unlimited ammo taser, and if you want to have your autosave disabled as you like to be fully challenged, then go with the Student outfit. So once you have made your choice, it’s time to get into the game.
Now, since your job is to help Hope and you have the ability to hack into the systems, that means that pressing L1, will provide the ability to see what’s ahead by accessing the different cameras which comes in handy so you can see the paths the enemy is taking so you can make sure that you can help Hope move along and not get detected, read files on each of the Prizrak, and finding different clues. Remember, stealth is important here, so you want to make sure you crouch a lot as your footsteps can be detected. But it’s not just moving from different points as it is to find different clues that can be found throughout the different levels that can be from posters to detailed clues about objects that you find to the audio clues that help piece the story together to even the class PC games that can be located throughout.
And just when you think that you found a door to enter the next area, not all doors are unlocked. Some doors require a version of the Omni View to have access to them. This is why it’s important to not rush, look at your map to see where you need to go, and hopefully not get caught by the Prizrak. If you do happen to get caught, you will be taken to a holding cell, where once the Prizrak has left Hope, you as the hacker that you are, can switch to a different camera so you can unlock the door that Hope is in so she can be free and try and again. Hope is also equipped with a phone that just like any phone, runs on batteries and will have the battery drain. So inside the holding cell, you can recharge your phone or you can find batteries to help charge the phone.
But Hope does have a chance with the Prizrak when finding objects that can help her in her escape. Objects like pepper sprays, a landmine that will make the Prizrak go to sleep, and even a taser. While the Prizrak are rethinking their actions, Hope can also pickpocket them to hopefully find additional objects to help keep her from getting detected.
Some of the doors that when opened as you get near them, will have this flat viewability about them. It’s not too distracting as it made me want to check out that room even more. But it’s when you keep looking and you find another door, that the game can almost get you into this loop of trying to figure out what should be next. There were times when even regardless of looking at the map and seeing where my destination was, I still got lost until I went back again or even a second attempt to where I started, that it made sense of what I was supposed to do. And again, it’s that take your time and pay attention to the surroundings that made me appreciate my time even more.
But this being the Anniversary Edition, there is something that made this edition even more special and that is one setting that needs to be clicked and that is the developer commentary icons. This will show special Camaflouj icons throughout the game so you can hear the different commentaries that are literal recordings of the discussions and arguments the team had from the past and new ones that were made.
Let’s talk about the graphics and sound. There are parts of Republique VR: Anniversary Edition’s level design that really stands out that I stopped just so could look at everything a little longer. Being able to switch between cameras and seeing how different parts played in the recordings really added to the story. When you mix that with the way Hope communicates as you really helping her from a distance really adds to the realism of the story that is being told. Plus, when you have performances from the voice actors such as David Hayter, Dwight Schultz, Jennifer Hale, Khary Payton, and Rena Strober, it does help complete the audio balance.
There are a few things that I hope to see get addressed with an update. For one, the controls. I am not saying that they are bad by any means, but a few times when trying to control Hope, it didn’t seem as tight as it was in other parts of the game. Second, keeping track of Hope. And what I mean by this is when you can see what’s ahead by moving from camera to camera, you can lose track of her. I wish there was a way to make her a little more easily located when you are further away from her. And finally, more episodes. I know that Republique has been through many ports from mobile to console to VR, but it would be awesome if with this Anniversary Edition if maybe one hidden alternate bonus episode was thrown in. Yes, this would make it a little difficult to do as this is more of a want than a need.
Republique VR: Anniversary Edition shows us just how far an idea can come and how much it has improved over time. From what started as an idea on mobile as an episodic game to being reworked for Virtual Reality. Sometimes we have all have dreams we would like to pursue. But it’s the hard work to take those ideas of the dreams that we had and make them into a reality no matter how many versions there might be of them.
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I need to make sure I didn’t miss any clues.