Now that I have a better computer and friends willing to sit through games with me, I decided to play through some of the games that I had gotten either for cheap or for free. They’re all just sitting in my library either because I never had the motivation to play it or I got them when I had a Mac. Here’s one of them.
According to its Steam blurb, “Replica is an interactive novel game played through a cellphone and social media.” Although I believe the game would look much, much better on mobile, I got this game on PC, so I had to deal with it.
The graphics, although simple, is enough to portray what is necessary. On PC, we are given simple pixel drawing of a hand holding up a phone. We use the mouse to navigate the touchscreen.
When you start the game, all you’re greeted with is the lock screen, showing you some missed calls and messages. You’ll struggle with the passcode combination for a while, but someone will message you about the phone owner Dickey’s birthday, which you promptly put into the phone because every teenager has their birthday set as their phone password.
Once you’re in the phone, you’ll be given instructions via text. The story then reveals itself to you. We’re in a interrogation facility meant to weed out “communists,” as they are a threat to American freedom. You and Dickey were taken by a secret branch of the government’s and are asked to find dirt on each other. If you comply and prosecute Dickey with all the damning information you’ve found, you’ll be proving yourself as the ultimate American citizen keen on protecting your motherland. This is, likely, the first ending everyone will get. Although I did try to disobey the authoritative voice to start with, I decided to follow what he’s saying.
The gameplay itself is rather simple. It’s just point and click. Sometimes, you get to slide, like it’s an actual phone. If you’re well-versed in iPhone’s OS, which this replicates, you’ll breeze through most of the objectives. There are a few issues I have with this, however. Since it’s all objective-based and discovery is locked until you get the objective, you can’t actually discover things beforehand. Sure, there are places where you can memorize passcodes to get into, but you can’t somehow keep in memory the phone owner’s number and email, even though they’re both right there. You have to click on the email again after getting the objective to find it.
There are certain passcodes that are almost impossible to guess without looking up a guide, though they’re tied to alternate endings. The agent assigned to keep watch over you will give you hints if you seem to be struggling, though most of them seem pretty obvious.
Another thing I didn’t like about this game are the sound effects. They’re a bit too loud and obnoxious for my taste. Every message is accompanied by a loud buzzing noise — the same buzzing noise — and after playing through it again and again to get all of the endings, it really grates your nerves.
Despite that, there’s a lot about this game that I enjoyed. First, it really does feel invasive looking through someone else’s phone, even though there isn’t a lot to look at. From the moment the government agent told me to look for dirt, I knew immediately that this kid doesn’t deserve it.
Not only does this entire plot hit a little too close to home, but it just doesn’t feel right to suppress another person’s voice — especially a young person’s — because they share a different opinion. The tyrannical government rules this new America with an iron-fist. You can either be their pawn, or die trying to resist. There is only one ending where it gives you a glimmer of hope, though given my current circumstance, it’s bittersweet at most since I know nothing will come of it.
Half of the endings in this game are serious. The other half are jokes or references. There are detailed guides on the Internet on how to achieve all of them, though I don’t think getting them are worth it. It’s really grindy, as you still have to do some mandatory objectives and there’s no save system. The game sometimes offers you to return to the spot before you did certain things, but they don’t apply to all of the endings and for a lot of them, I had to completely restart. It’s really annoying trying to find all the clues and match them to the “national security law” that they broke.
You can try to speed through everything, but the agent would ask you what’s the hurry and try to slow you down. There are certain bits that you can’t speed through, so it’ll take you a little longer than necessary to see all of the endings.
In my opinion, for a subject matter like this, it’s good that there are jokes to lighten up the mood. One of the endings especially gave me a good laugh, but that’s probably because I was burnt out from drawing too much parallel of this game to the reality I live in. Think V for Vendetta, but with fart jokes (literally).
On the other hand, though, it feels a little distasteful to add jokes into something like this. I understand that this game came out a long time ago, way before any of this happened, but I still find it very sad and upsetting. Especially the photo with the riot police in one of the endings. I can shrug this off in the game, since you know, it’s a game, but I can’t ignore the reality that it reminds me of.
Over all, this is a really good game. The aesthetics are nice, the controls are a little wonky on PC, and the small story is good. The references and jokes are a little too much, but it’s amazing that such a small game has that many endings and references to begin with. I would recommend you to play this game, though I don’t know if you should waste your time doing all the endings and getting all the achievements unless you’re a completionist like me.