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Video Game / Republic: The Revolution

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Republic: The Revolution is a Political Strategy Game produced by the short-lived British developer Elixir Studios (better known for later developing Evil Genius) and published in 2003 by Eidos Interactive. The game takes place in the small nation of Novistrana, a fictional country that has just gained independence from the Soviet Union. You play as a political mastermind... whose family was assassinated by the KGB... and unfortunately, the man who was resposible for those murders is currently "president for life" of Novistrana and beyond the reach of the legal system.

Thus, the player's job is to set up a party and gather enough support to launch a revolution. Of course, you're not the only one with an agenda - opposing him are several other groups, including other political parties, churches and even criminal organizations. In order to overcome the opposition and overthrow the president, you'll have to persuade others to work with you and support your campaign. Of course, they're trying the same...

The game's political spectrum has three dimensions: Forcenote , Influencenote , and Wealthnote . Different ideologies draw (or repulse) different voting groups and can make recruiting certain people easier (or harder). The military is more likely to support a person with an interest in force, while the church can be hard to persuade to join the cause unless you share their belief in the power of influence. Corporate salesmen care for nothing but cold hard cash.

Development on the game began in July 1999, after the British chess and math prodigy Demis Hassabis left Lionhead (where he was the lead AI programmer on Black & Whitenote ) and founded Elixir Studios to produce an original political simulation game. Published in August 2003 by Eidos, Republic was a critical and commercial flop, prompting Hassabis to step down as CEO to devote more time to his next project, Evil Genius, released a year later to a somewhat better reception. It was too late to save Elixir, however, which closed its doors in April 2005 — just two months after announcing an MMO sequel, Republic Dawn: The Chronicles of the Seven. Both of its IPs then went to Rebellion, who put them on in 2009, before "temporarily" pulling Republic from sale in 2011. As it has not been reinstated since and Rebellion doesn't even list it in its own store, there is currentlynote  no legal way to play the game other than tracking down an original physical copy by Eidos, although the release of Evil Genius 2 gives us some hope that Elixir's legacy is not entirely dead and gone yet.

This game provides examples of:

  • Artistic License – Politics: The game reduces democratic process to a Three-Stat System that represents both ideology and resources of each political party and voting group: Wealth, Influence, and Force. The fourth parameter, representing the general support by the populace, is derived from the first three and from the success or failure of about a dozen different political operations your faction performs before the elections.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: 3D mode. Most of game is played from 2D map.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Novistrana translates roughly to "New Country" from Russian.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Player can beat other factions by engaging in the same actions as they do.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Karasov is President Evil. You're out to topple him because he made your parents disappear, and arranging a regime change will require ruthless tactics up to and including corruption and murder. Even a pure Influence playthrough requires setting up a charitable trust you can use to fund your political party and arranging for the martyrdom of one of your allies so you can use his death to spark the revolution.
  • Branch-and-Bottleneck Plot Structure: The game dynamically chooses (based on your current ideology) one of three ideology-specific branches at several predetermined points in the main quest, before rejoining all branches for the next ideology-neutral plot sequence. For instance:
    • In Ekaterine, after setting up your party with your friends and freeing and recruiting a political inmate, you then must establish your power base in the city. If your ideology is Force-aligned at this point in the game (and it is unlikely to have changed since character creation), it tasks you with starting an underground movement by setting up illegal printing presses and disseminating anti-establishment propaganda; if you are instead Influence-aligned, you must pressure the Bishop of Ekaterine into endorsing you in a highly-publicized Sunday sermon; lastly, if you're mainly into Wealth, you have to secure the Morozov Casino as a source of future income by throwing out the Konstantino Cartel and buying the whole place out. Once you're done with that, all that's left is to meet with the Mayor, to hold a public rally, and to leave for Pugachev.
    • Upon arrival in Pugachev, you are immediately given three ideology-specific objectives to gain foothold in the city (in addition to the ideology-neutral task of exposing the corrupt Mayor) and unlike in the previous instance, you can freely decide which one to tackle, forfeiting the others: form a crime syndicate (Force), a charitable trust (Influence), or just network with local businessmen (Wealth). After your power base is secured and a new mayor, elected, the game checks your ideology (which might have shifted significantly by now) and tasks you with making waves by staging either a football riot (Force) or an general strike at the oil refinery (Influence), or by securing a Celebrity Endorsement (Wealth). Much later, when you are going after the Red Mafiya's leadership, there is also a Promptless Branching Point when you try to convince The Consigliere to hand over incriminating accounts: should you fail at the Persuasion Minigame, you receive a new objective to hire an ex-Special Forces major to straight-up assassinate The Don.
  • Cigar Chomper: At the end of the Easy Life (Weath's Resolve-boosting action) cutscene, the main character (or whoever instigated the action) smugly lights up a cigar and smokes it as his underling (who has just received the keys to a brand new car) speeds away in the background.
  • Class and Level System: The game features a unique class roster (called "professions") geared toward political activism:
    • Force professions are Police (primarily Force/Wealth-based actions aimed at other characters), Military (primarily Force-based for damaging others' Resolve and boosting own Support), Trade Union (a Force/Influence hybrid specialized in boosting and eroding Support), and Criminal (an exclusively Force-based action set aimed at Support boosting and eroding).
    • Influence professions are Political (an exclusively Influence-based well-balanced action set with a tendency for Support boosting), Religious (mostly Influence-based actions for boosting and eroding Support), and Academianote  (a balanced class with actions spread across every category and ideology).
    • Wealth professions are Business (exclusively Wealth-based actions mostly aimed at boosting support), Media (the most ideologically-balanced class with the most abilities for damaging others' support), and Celebrity (an Influence/Wealth hybrid with the most Support-boosting actions).
    • Lastly, there is the special Leader profession, available only to faction leaders (including the protagonist), which have access to Executive Powers (such as firing recruits), and partially overlapping, partially ideology-specific action roster strongly geared towards recruitment.
  • Character Customization: Notably averted with the main character's looks (he always appears as the default dude in a leather jacket with a neatly trimmed beard), but his political views are customizable through the Player Personality Quiz at the start of the game.
  • Character Portrait: Each recruitable character in the game has a unique portrait which is used to represent them on the "Risk"-Style Map.
  • Chromosome Casting: Every single politically active (and hence, recruitable) citizen of Novistrana appears to be male. There are plenty of women in the game, but none of them have any bearing on the gameplay.
  • Cold War: Set shortly afterwards, but the point of the game is that the Hole in Flag phase hasn't properly arrived yet and you're supposed to finally rid the country of authoritarianism (at least in theory).
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Pretty much everything in the game is coded either red for Force-related areas, individuals, and actions, blue for Influence, or yellow for Wealth.
  • Determinator: Not only is the main character's Resolve stat permanently maxed-out, but he is seemingly the only person in the game who never needs to any sleep at all (sleep being an in-game mechanic that requires every other functionary in the game to spend one out of three daily actions resting).
  • Coup de Grâce Cutscene: When you order someone killed. There is no way to cancel the action once it has begun.
  • The Dragon: General Alexashenko. Can be bribed into Dragon Their Feet.
  • Easy Evangelism: Because of how popular support works mechanically, functionaries of the Religious profession (read: priests) can convert entire districts to their (party's) cause within a few days. Their primary support-boosting action is even literally called "Evangelize".
  • The Exile: The eponymous Influence action (first available in Berezina) is the "humane" alternative to just shooting NPCs whom you want permanently removed from the game.
  • Experience Points: Completing actions gives characters experience, which eventually lets them upgrade their own skills.
  • False Flag Operation: You can pull these off, it's just takes some extra effort.
  • Flavor Text: Every single building, character, and even random objects like telephone booths and trash have their short flavor texts that can be read by clicking on them in the rooftop (3D) mode.
  • Fog of War: Played with. You can see the 3D world wherever you want, but you won't know what your enemies are doing if you're not actively investigating. There are even actions to intentionally spread the fog of war to prevent other factions' from knowing what you are doing.
  • The Fundamentalist: Some of the church people (obviously).
  • Guide Dang It!: On the Influence path, you are given a task to dig up some dirt on the Bishop of Ekaterine. There are two problems with that. First, for whatever reason, there are actually two bishops in Ekaterine: Abram Baranov, the leader of the political faction Church of Novistrana, who is explicitly named "Bishop of Ekaterine Church" in his Flavor Text, despite apparently not being an Ekaterine native; and the other is Breshnov, whom his Flavor Text describes as "the often absent Bishop of Ekaterine Town" and who is your real quarry, despite never actually appearing as an NPC on your radar until then. Secondly, in order to get him to spawn, you have to use an obscure mechanic that is never properly introduced up to that point: while one of your functionaries is gathering information in Lissitzky Towers, click on the Church of Epiphany in rooftop mode to access the "Dig Deeper" action, which will change the building's Flavor Text, instructing you to investigate in the same manner the Morozov Casino, which will reveal Bishop Breshnov's gambling addiction. Add the two factors together, and you'll be entirely forgiven for spending in-game weeks tracking Baranov's every move to no avail.
  • Hide Your Children: Partially explained, however, by some of the information boxes in the 3D world. Children's play areas exist, but are said to be abandoned because few parents let their children out on the streets of Novistrana, while the fact that no schools can be seen is explained by the poor education system the regime is running
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Time marches forward constantly. Days are divided into three parts and each action takes place in one part.
  • Inspiring Sermon: Party members of the Religious background get access to the Revelation and the Evangelize actions at Character Level 1 and 2, respectively. Both are effectively public sermons,note  but the former directs public indignation at another faction's transgressions, while the latter boosts your own faction's support by appealing to the public's religious sensibilities.
  • It Gets Easier: Quite literally: in Pugachev, the Mayor's assassination by The Mafiya is a massive game-changing event, while your own hit on Red Mafiya's leader takes several missions to prepare and to carry out. In Berezina, functionaries of the Business and the Military/Police backgrounds can send hitmen and the Alpha Squad, respectively, after their rivals as a regular gameplay actionnote . This is primarily because the assassination actions (as well the Politician's Exile action) are unlocked at level 8, and Character Level is capped at 7 in Pugachev.
  • La Résistance: You start as this. Whether it lasts or not is up to you.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Late in Pugachev, a plot-mandated schism splits your party, when two of your highest-level recruits go rogue to form a Wealth-aligned "New Peace Party", taking a full half of your raw support with them, giving them more than enough resources to rival your power base. While it is up for debate whether the protagonist or, indeed, any character in the game qualifies as "heroic", the event does give the protagonist's real enemies, the Red Mafiya, time to catch their breaths, while he has to either crush, or reconcile with these new rivals.
  • The Mafiya: The Red Mafiya (literally) is a rival faction in the second city, Pugachev.
  • Mentor Archetype: If you pay attention to all the memos you receive after key plot events, you'll notice that all of them are from one Tresori Vilnov, an aging (Influence-aligned) dissident who has taken the protagonist under his wing and is subtly directing him in his quest for power. You can actually meet Tresori in person when you reach Berezina, although he cannot be recruited.
  • Multiple Endings: Though you take over the country whatever happens, your ideology determines the method used.
  • Multiple Game Openings: Depending on your ideological profile, you start in different regions of the First Town and have to face different opponents early on. Later in the game, your ideology also determines some (but not all) of the story missions.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Intentionally averted in-universe: Many actions, particularly of the Force ideology, generate "bad facts", which your rivals can uncover with investigative actions and use to boost their own actions for free, especially actions that erode your popular support.
  • Old Soldier: Force-oriented parties tend to hire these guys.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Going between Force and Influence ends somewhat like this.
  • Persuasion Minigame: Recruiting new party functionaries, as well as many special events revolve around a negotiation minigame between your functionary and an NPC. First, you get a number of persuasiveness points (dependent on your functionary's Resolve score), which you have to assign to four differently-weighted arguments you will use later. In the first round of negotiation, you must play each of these arguments in any order, not knowing which arguments the other party has. In the second round, the process is repeated, except both parties now know each other's arguments. The party with more successful persuasions (i.e. matching the opponent's argument with a stronger argument) wins the entire negotiation. Also, at one point can try to convince a wealthy businessman to support you. If you mess up the negotiations, he won't give you anything. Win, he pays. Go over the top and he pays extra.
  • Player Personality Quiz: A new game opens with one right after the intro cinematic. Your answers mainly determine the political ideology of the player character's newly-founded party.
  • Plot Lock: You can't mess with the President's power in the center of Berezina, at least not directly. You have to gain control of the proper institutions (the central bank, the Cathedral, or the Secret Police HQ).
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Late in Pugachev, the right-hand man you've recruited from among the protagonist's three childhood friends in Ekaterine will turn on you, causing a literal party schism, after someone (read: Karasov) informs him that you have been in constant contact with someone in Berezina (read: worked for Karasov) the entire time. The reality is that you do have a contact in Berezina, but it's actually Tresori Vilnov, a notable political dissident and underground hero, who has taken the protagonist under his wing.
  • Redemption Demotion: Kind of. At the start of the game Robert Tarasov is the head of the Democracy Now Party and, as such, has access to all of the perks of the Leader profession. If you free and recruit him following his arrest, however, he will revert to the standard Academia profession instead.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified / The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Depending on the player's choices, but leaning more towards the latter.
  • Ridiculous Repossession: The game has "Debt Collection" as a low-level action to damage the opponents' Resolve (which functions as a mix of Hit Points and Sanity Meter). The ridiculousness comes from the fact that because there is no actual debt-based mechanics in the game, this action can be launched against any character at any time, as often as you have the Wealth to. So if you want someone out of the game, you just spam "Debt Collection" at them three times a day, for days on end, watching the same cutscene of your agents hauling stuff out of the victim's home that somehow doesn't seem to run out, as the victim yells the same angry curses at them over and over again.
  • "Risk"-Style Map: Cities are divided into districts.
  • RPG Elements: Each playable or recruitable character has five stats (Status, Charisma, Presence, Control, and Resolve, the last of which functions as a kind of Sanity Meter and factors into every action's effectiveness) and a profession that determines which actions they have access to. They also gain XP for completing actions and can promote up to 10 times, with each level giving them 10 points to improve any stat except Resolve, and 1 Skill Point to unlock a new action type or "star" an already unlocked one (all regular actions can be upgraded up to three stars, i.e. have four power levels).
  • President Evil: Vassily Karasov is a former secret service head who has not only seized dictatorial power in Novistrana, banned all opposition, and declared himself President for Life, but also had the protagonist's family disappeared!
  • Protagonist Power-Up Privileges: The protagonist gets two of his profession's action types (ideology-specific Resolve boost and Rally) for free, meaning that he has two more tech points to invest into his skills (other professions get at most one action for free at high levels). This is offset a little by the fact that every faction leader gets these free powers, no just the Player Character.
  • The Purge: Very early in act 1, Karasov declares himself President for Life, banning all political parties other than his own, and, in order to prove he means business, orders an Alpha Squad raid on the HQ of the then-largest opposition group, the Democracy Now Party, systematically killing or throwing into jail all of its members (although you can later arrange for the DNP leader Robert Tarasov to be freed to work for you instead).
  • Ruritania: Novistrana, whose name is a Fake Russian rendition of novaya strana (it literally means "new nation").
  • Sanity Meter: The Resolve stat basically functions as this for recruitable NPCs: the higher the Resolve, the better a functionary performs his assigned tasks, failing them reduces Resolve, and it can be raised again by nice things happening to the agent (especially if the party leader recognizes his efforts). On the other hand, rival parties can specifically attack others' Resolve by putting them through hardship (such as being forcibly dispossessed by debt collectors), and a functionary whose Resolve drops to zero quits political work altogether! They don't die, however, and it is possible to recruit them (back), since recruitment also gives an initial boost to resolve (depending on how well you perform in the Persuasion minigame).
  • Scare Campaign: Support us, or the evil commies/capitalists/anarchists/fundamentalists/atheists/etc. are going to EAT YOUR BABIES!
  • Secret Police: Borderline State Sec, since there's so much crossover between the Secret Police and the army.
  • The Syndicate: The Konstantino Cartel, despite its name.
  • Sliding Scale of Libertarianism and Authoritarianism: And you get to decide where you want to sit!
  • Sliding Scale of Turn Realism: In a really weird variation, this game is basically a Turn-Based Strategy where all gameplay takes place in real time. Each day is subdivided into three time periods (morning, afternoon, night), and during each period each agent can carry out exactly one action; resources are handed out once a day. Frustratingly, there is no way to significantly slow down the time (e.g. to have more time to review the situation and assign duties) or speed it up (to skip to the next turn); and some actions additionally require you to manually adjust the manner in which they are carried out as they happen (even though for many, it could have just as well been specified when ordering them), making carrying out more than two actions within the same turn excessively hectic.
  • Speaking Simlish: Novistranians seem to be speaking a weird mix of Ukranian and Russian, and the "Cyrillic" letters are fictional.
  • Starter Mon: Your first task in a new game is to recruit a right-hand man. Conveniently, the main character has exactly three old childhood friends in the First Town, each representing one of the three political pillars (Influence, Wealth, and Force), and one of them is easily recruitable even early on.
  • Strawman Political: Everyone, more or less. Everyone subscribes to one of three main focuses (Power, Influence, Wealth) and have their main skillset picked from that power. However, some characters do have secondary beliefs.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Influence sways Wealth, Wealth buys Force, and Force beats Influence. In theory. In effect, the one who keeps gathering the most raw support beats everyone.
  • Tech-Demo Game: If you spend any time in the rooftop view (3D mode), it becomes painfully obvious that the game's engine, codenamed "Totality", was intended to simulate the life of an entire city in full detail, down to the individual street names, cars, and every single artificially-intelligent resident. Unfortunately, while the simulation part was largely successful, the devs had failed to use it for any gameplay more gripping than a rather bland, repetitive, and overly-complex Euro Game. As a result, most of the game time is spent in the "Risk"-Style Map of the city, while the intricate simulation running in the background goes mostly unnoticed and unused.
  • Three-Stat System: Each political party, party functionary, and electoral district has an ideological profile that combines Wealth, Force, and Influence in certain proportions. Each combination makes them more or less suited to carry out or to support certain political operations.
  • Velvet Revolution: When Karasov finally goes down, he goes down quickly and without much fuss. Even more so in the Wealth ending, where you force him to resign by screwing with the economy.
  • Voice of the Resistance: Obviously, capturing a radio or TV station helps to persuade people to join your cause.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: There is no real way to ally with any other faction. Despite everyone opposing Karasov, everyone is more focused on defeating each others first.
  • Welcome to Corneria: There is only a small set of opinions the people have to share. Hilariously enough, the text shown might match the voiceover, since there aren't enough spoken lines to go around.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: How Novistrana's problems start.
  • Working-Class People Are Morons: In just three days, the entire city can go from religious fanatics to capitalist to military dictator to pro-democratic movement.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: As soon as you expose the Mayor of Pugachev's ties to The Mafiya, they send a hitman to silence him.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Karasov and his regime will try to paint you as a terrorist, while naturally you potray yourself as a freedom fighter. Where you actually fall depends on your chosen path.