Developed by Camouflaj comes Republique VR a VR version of the game with the same name. Interestingly, it has done the rounds including a 2D version for PC and mobiles and a VR version for Oculus GO. Now the game arrives on the Oculus Quest and Rift S as a cross-buy title. Using Revive is also playable on other VR headsets like the Valve Index.
Republique VR tells the story of Hope and her escape from the Republique a totalitarian state hidden from the outside world. With it comes a cast of diverse characters where Hope is not a person but a numbered individual who has to conform. Somehow, your character fits in by way of viewing her via the camera systems which monitor the entire location. This is a great excuse to offer two-tiered play. On one side players act as the eyes for Hope by freely jumping from one camera to the next scouting ahead and interacting with items of interest (which in turn offer upgrades to help Hope traverse each area). On the other side, players directly control Hope’s movements, be it taking cover, pick-pocketing or attacking guards with tasers or pepper spray and generally sneaking about undetected.
The two approach works reasonably well except when the camera view automatically shifts for a better look at Hope. It might have proved better to allow players to choose camera manually to avoid the switch overs. The problem with auto switching views whilst controlling Hope means a bit of disorientation when moving. It takes a few moments to work out not only where Hope is, but what direction she is facing. Sometimes the jarring shifting can result in a needless confrontation with a guard. It’s something you have to wrestle with as you play which is a shame really because it does impact you’re enjoyment somewhat.
To be clear, this is a stealth/puzzle game and certainly nods to games like Metal Gear Solid and similar titles. You get to hide in lockers for instance and distract guards. Interestingly as a side-note the voice actor for Solid Snake “David Hayter” lends his voice to the game. Puzzles are not too taxing but will have you interact with elements in the environment.
Going back to the controls, and on the Oculus Quest you can use a pointer to move Hope which works well and harks back to the Oculus Go version. On the Rift or other VR headsets you can use an Xbox One gamepad or motion controls. The former probably is the best option. In general, the stealth works well despite the guard vision cones looking quite limited in scope. It’s possible to dance around guards undetected with timed movements in relation to their set patrol patterns. That’s not to say it’s easy as you progress further into the episodic story. Guards have alert-levels which raises the tension, as well as various forms with resistances to your attacks. Interestingly, once discovered the game puts you back in a prison cell of which you can escape to try again. At least in this regard it’s not so punishing.
Visually, Republique VR looks pretty decent with some neat effects across various rooms and locations. However, the Quest version looks massively scaled down in comparison to the Rift. Texture details and effects look reduced considerably and the overall resolution isn’t as crisp. Playing one then the other highlights the differences making the choice to use a tethered experience the only way to play this if the option for both exists. The Quest version doesn’t take advantage of wire-free play or roomscale in any way either unfortunately. If Quest is the only option available, then there isn’t anything to compare and therefore it’s functional and not-bad for the system’s capabilities.
Audio is pretty good too with a good cast of voice over talent, such as previously mentioned David Hayter, Jenifer Hale and Dwight Schultz lending their talents. Music and sound effects overall are well-produced making for a great game to get lost in; especially if chilling in bed with the Oculus Quest for example.
Gamers can expect to complete the 5 chapters in around 6 – 8 hours but there is more to mess around with such as alternate outfits offering increased or reduced difficulty. Players can collect items from the field and pick-pocket game discs from patrolling guards. You scan guards also for their background details which is a neat touch. It’s a shame a two-player mode wasn’t thought about where one person controlled the cameras and the other Hope. That could be fun with coordinated conversation.
Republique VR works well in VR with a good sense of presence as the camera operator controlling Hope. The locations look and feel impressive in terms of scale, but in our experience the character models look slightly too small. It’s not clear if this is a deliberate choice though seeing as you’re supposed to be viewing events through a camera feed. It’s good to see a different style of game for VR outside of the usual suspects and in this regard the game succeeds and is pleasant to play. So, if you like stealth games and have access to either a Quest, Rift or other VR headset, then this is must simply because it stands out from the crowd, has great production values and an interesting story. Jarring camera switching aside (the only real negative here) it’s a cool game which naturally fares better on tethered devices. Visually the Quest version in comparison feels like such a downgrade but still worth it if that’s all you have to go on.