Review: Replica (Spoiler Free)
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Developer: Somi, Zero Rock Entertainment
Release: July 11, 2016
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, Android, iOS
Replica is an interactive novel told through a cell phone. Set in a country that just suffered a major terrorist attack, the government has begun inspecting cell phone usage and social media records to weed out terrorist supporters. You wake in a jail cell with someone else’s cell phone, and a caller informs you that you’ve been suspected of terrorist activity. If you agree to search the cell phone and identify evidence of terrorist activity, you and your family will not be harmed. I went into Replica expecting a singular story, maybe a second alternate ending to an “okay” story, but I quickly realized that this “little” game packs a big punch.
Replica is set entirely within a pixelated simulation of a modern cell phone, with all of the apps you’d expect to find: email, sms messaging, phone, app store, etc. The game does a great job of bringing that normal cell phone feel to the switch. Sifting through someone else’s text messages while declining phone calls from their friend and family made me feel as if I was invading someone else's privacy.
You can interact with the screen with A and the left analog stick to click, drag, and swipe, or you can use the A, B, X, and Y buttons along with the right analog stick for quicker navigation. Both options worked great and I found myself switching back and forth between the two options.
Replica does not include voice acting, but even through text they succeed in eliciting emotion and feelings of moral dilemma. Every action you take influences the outcome of the story, and there are 11 different endings you can receive. The screens you view, the calls you answer, and the secrets you uncover directly impact the narrative, and I was blown away by the paths I discovered.
The soundtrack is controlled through the music app on the phone, where you can pause, skip, or repeat songs. The music is decent background music to accompany the mystery story, but after a while I was happy to see I could pause it.
Overall Grade: A
There is way more I could say about the various paths within this game, but I want to avoid spoiling any story elements. What I will say is that I highly recommend playing Replica multiple times. Follow your gut and see what outcome you get. Then go back and play this again and again. You’ll quickly uncover the depth of this story that is hidden behind the secret codes and locked apps. While I would have welcomed some voice acting to add another level of realism, there is nothing wrong with the current state. Replica is currently $4.99 on the e-shop, and it’s a story with 11 potential endings to discover which makes it well worth the money.