Replica – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, puzzle
Developer: SOMI
Publisher: PLAYISM
Platform: Switch, PS4, PC
Tested on: Switch

Replica – Review

Site Score
6.0
Good: The choices you make affect the ending
Bad: Pitifully short experience
User Score
6.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)

In recent years, there have been a few games that involve breaking into someone’s phone, with the most prominent examples being the critically acclaimed Lost Phone games. There is something exciting about snooping around in someone’s phone, even if it is a fictional situation, so it’s definitely a concept worth exploring. 2016’s Replica, which came to the Switch recently, takes this concept and adds a dash of both government surveillance and terrorism. Is the result a game worth picking up your phone for or should you let Replica go straight to voicemail?

Story

Starting a game of Replica sees you wake up under mysterious circumstances. You find yourself alone at an unknown location and in possession of a phone that clearly isn’t your own. After successfully unlocking the phone, you start receiving a string of text messages from a shady government agency. In these messages, they explain what happened: the phone actually belongs to one of your classmates, who has been accused of being a terrorist. You’re tasked with finding evidence in the phone, all the while keeping up the charade to your classmate’s contacts that nothing shady is going on. Additionally, the government is keeping a watch on your actions and will give you instructions. It’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to coöperate with their instructions or if you’re going rogue to protect your classmate. Either way, there will be consequences. 

Graphics

Despite Replica’s semi-futuristic setting, SOMI has opted for retro aesthetics, with both the phone screen and the background presented as old-school pixelated graphics and primary colors, with no shading present. While this does emphasize the dystopian nature of the game’s story, it also feels somewhat unnatural to look at what is essentially a modern smartphone represented like something you’d encounter in a DOS game from the early ’90s. What’s baffling for the Switch port specifically is that SOMI seemingly missed out on a visual feature that would have done wonders to increase Replica’s level of immersion. Given the Switch’s form factor and the fact that the game offers touch screen controls, we’re surprised that there is no option for a “full screen” option where you are able to turn your Switch sideways so that the virtual phone fully takes over the screen in handheld mode. This is something that Accidental Queens’ Lost Phone games implemented, showcasing just how well the feature works in practice. 

Sound

There’s not a whole lot we can say about Replica’s soundscape, as it is very limited. There is no voice acting, for example, and any dialogue is displayed on-screen. Any sounds present in the game are primitive representations of phone sounds. The music sounds like it came straight out of an overly dramatic daytime soap opera, featuring computer-generated violin and piano tunes. It doesn’t fit the atmosphere and is as forgettable as it is annoying. 

Gameplay

It’s not easy to categorize Replica, as it doesn’t quite fit any of the conventional video game genres. There have been a few games that utilize a similar concept, where you as the player need to break into someone else’s phone and use scraps of information to unlock more apps and features. This in turn allows you to gather more information, enabling you to dive into yet another layer of what is hidden behind the lock screen. In essence, you’re looking at a hybrid between a visual novel, a mystery game and a puzzle game, with a setup similar to that of an escape room. Some of the clues you need might not be useful at first glance, but will eventually become essential to gain access to a key bit of information.

If this all sounds like mumbo jumbo to you, then perhaps we should dial it back a bit and take a look at Replica itself rather than trying to explain the core mechanics of the sub-genre. As we explained in the story section of this review, you find yourself in the possession of a phone that doesn’t belong to you, and you’ll need to use it to get yourself out of a sticky situation. The gameplay is entirely centered around this phone. Your first challenge is figuring out the pin code to the lock screen, something that is neither challenging nor original, but it does give the player a decent indication of how the overall gameplay works. We’ll refrain from delving too deep into the puzzles themselves, as the majority of the experience involves figuring stuff out for yourself, but the game never gets too difficult.

This becomes especially apparent during subsequent playthroughs. Replica has several endings depending on how well you follow the instructions of the government agency that put the phone in your hands. You can go rogue of course, and this will present you with a completely different ending compared to following orders. While having more than one ending does increase longevity, you’re still looking at a particularly short game. We were able to experience three different endings over a combined total of two hours of gameplay. Granted, the second and third playthroughs were significantly shorter simply because we already knew where to find the information we needed. 

Conclusion

While Replica’s concept is solid, and we enjoyed seeing the different endings play out, we couldn’t help but feel like the game was missing something. The puzzles didn’t feel very challenging and the experience was just too short for our liking. Perhaps it felt more impressive when it initially launched back in 2016, but four years is ages in gaming, and since then other and better alternatives have come out if you’re looking for a game that has you snooping around in someone else’s phone.

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Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Replica - Review, 6.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Sebastiaan Raats


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