Replica can be best described as a detective game. The core premise of the game is that you are in possession of a phone and someone claiming to be part of Homeland Security tells you to gather information from the phone to prove its owner is a co-conspirator of a recent terrorist attack. If you do so, they will release you from their prison. In order to accomplish this, you do exactly what you would do in real life; you go through his text messages, his pictures, his phone log, and you even crack his various passwords to see what he posts online. The game’s entire interface is designed to replicate a smart phone’s interface. You never interact with anything unless it is through the phone. As you explore, you learn about the suspect, the government, what is going on in the world, and who you play as.
The game’s interface is its most memorable part; the phone beeps when you get text
messages, the game music cuts out and in with phone calls, the clock even moves in real
time. If you pick up the mobile version, the game will utilize your phone’s vibrate feature when you get text messages. I played this on my Android and there were several times I
kept trying to use my phone’s actual back and home buttons instead of the game’s buttons because of how immersed I got into the game. My phone vibrated and I had thought the game glitched because no text message appeared… because I had gotten an actual text message while playing. I highly recommend getting this game for your phone and not the PC simply because of how much it adds to the immersion.
The gameplay definitely reinforces the idea that this is someone’s phone you are going through. The Homeland Security agent gives you explicit instructions on what information to find and there is a To-do app that acts as your mission log. To find the info does take some thinking on the players part as not everything can just be found in the contacts list. You’ll have to look at photo’s location data, gather memorable dates to the suspect to crack passwords, and download other fictional apps to log into the suspects other internet accounts. There are still passcodes I did not have figured out after playing this game for two hours.
Of course you do have the option of just not following his instructions and doing what you think is right. Depending on what you choose to do or not do will lead you down one of twelve possible endings. It took me about 40 minutes to reach my first ending but depending on what you do it can vary greatly. The game thankfully does not always make
you go back to the start to get another ending. If you got a certain ending because you did X and only because you did X, the game lets you return to the point before you did X. If you had to do X, Y, and Z to get an ending then it does return you to the beginning. Going through the same section a second time is a lot faster than the first because you know what to do and the passwords are not randomized.
The only frustration I got while playing was when *partial spoilers* you have to use a law app to connect suspicious behavior with laws that it breaks. For example, having an illegal message app installed would be a violation of the Government’s internet monitoring. The way to do this is to first click the piece of evidence and the game will say to open the law app to report the violation. You don’t actually do that though. You press and hold on the evidence and a pop-up menu appears saying report. Click report and another menu opens with all the various laws. You cans swipe left and right to view all the laws as it’s a long series of horizontal tabs. Click the correct law and it gets registered, click the wrong one and you have to press and hold to report again. None of that is explained in the game and clicking the actual law app just tells you it is already installed. Better in game instruction on how to use the app is needed. I also had problem with the press and hold feature itself, sometimes it wouldn’t register unless I did a very light touch other times I had to mash and hold.
For $2.99 this game is absolutely worth the cost. You’ll get at least an hour of play time from it and what it does it does well. Get the mobile version to help build your immersion and because the game lends itself to popcorn gaming to get all the endings.
Developer: Somi, a solo indie developer in South Korea
Release Date: 6/7/2016 (Itch.io) 7/11/2016 (Steam) 11/15/2016 (Android, iOS)
Price: $2.99 All Platforms
Review Device: Samsung S7 Galaxy Edge