Republique preview – High concept action on your iPhone

There’s indisputably another phase of retro homage bubbling under the surface right now. While we’ve seen years of 8-bit and 16-bit homage tweak and redefine the games of twenty years past, Camouflaj has different ideas in mind. The Seattle-based studio, founded by a team of game industry veterans and young talent, has teamed up with video visionaries Logan (responsible for last fall’s live action Skyrim ad and the Metal Gear Solid 4 live action sequences) to work on Republique, an iOS title that looks poised to weave a PlayStation-era classic with more modern trappings to create a game that has us as excited to play it as anything coming to 3DS or Vita.

You might be familiar with the details on the game and its ambitious Kickstarter campaign (opens in new tab). We got a chance to check out some initial information during a presentation last month. Here’s what we know after talking to creative lead Ryan Payton: Republique is an iOS title that looks to wed an ambitious tale of dystopian surveillance culture (yes, Orwellian) to yesteryear’s Resident Evil games, though that’s simplifiying it a bit.

Payton posed the question: “What if you’re on the surveillance side of Big Brother? What does that do to the human psyche?” In the game, you get a message from Hope, a young woman who’s trapped in a laboratory within a foreign nation, being watched by an Overseer. She’s managed to sneak a contraband phone – they’re banned in this society — into the facility, and it (and you) are her only connection to the outside world. You can communicate with her and use her phone to connect to anything with a computer in her environment.

She’s not armed. Therefore, she’ll need whatever help she can get to escape the facility. Sometimes, she might get a two-shot taser, but generally, as Payton pointed out, Republique is about creating tension through non-lethal maneuvering and outsmarting everyone in the environment. But make no mistake, Hope isn’t as helpless as Yorda, and Payton intimated that ideally, she’ll sometimes make decisions on her own. So while you’ll guide her to an escape route by hacking terminals, creating distractions, and unlocking doors, you won’t be puppeteering the affair.

The biggest goal, according to Payton, is to craft a game for mobile that’s as gripping as anything you’ll play at home. Ideally, the visuals should be very high standard; Camouflaj is aiming for high visual quality, with 70 bones and 7000 polygons devoted to characters (for a frame of reference, that’s far more than Snake has in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, either in play, or in cutscenes). Based on some of Republique’s concept art, it appears that the isometric Resident Evil-style camera also lends itself to both the story and to creating highly detailed characters. With pre-rendered backgrounds in the style of Capcom’s classic games, the team can create vivid environments and implement a certain amount of liveliness without rendering full-blown 3D.

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