From PAX West in Seattle, USA to Taipei Game Show (TpGS) in Taipei, Taiwan, Replica is getting recognition worldwide by earning nine awards in various major international game events. The latest one is the Grand Prix award at TpGS.
∇ Replica’s developer getting the Grand Prix award at TpGS
Replica is an indie game by Somi, a one-man team consisting of Somi himself, who is in fact developing in his spare time while having another job and a kid at the same time. The game adopts a slightly different investigation mode where players can only see a smartphone screen (one that doesn’t belong to them) and access different apps. However, using this smartphone is not as fun as it is supposed to be. As players start receiving messages, calls and even forceful orders from different people, and start looking through the phone’s apps for secrets, the story unfolds. Yet, which ending they are going to get is theirs to decide.
The story has its take on privacy intrusion and sacrifices, which is an insanely rich combination for a game that can be finished as fast as 10 minutes. Such achievement is made not by only Somi’s creativity but also his inspiration, his hometown – South Korea. Fortunately, we were privileged to interview the said brain behind the game at Taipei Game Show and got to understand how and why Replica was such a big hit.
∇ Somi being interviewed by QooApp
In March last year, South Korea’s first anti-terrorism legislation was approved by lawmakers. The bill enables the country’s spies to wiretap phone conversations and collect personal information of suspects. Many opposed the idea for they feared being monitored by the government, and as a result they would be deprived of freedom. Being upset and inspired by this event, Replica is Somi’s public warning on the danger of government surveillance. Replica is more than a game that entertains.
Apart from being a warning, Somi was also trying to make players realise the weight of every choice they make. He made 12 endings that were not exactly happy, well, this depends on how the players look at it. Still, there is no denying that every decision the players make carries a certain weight – a weight so heavy that not all people can bear. To deepen the immersion even more, Somi chose to make it like a phone, and so all can feel like they are using an actual phone and walking in the protagonist’s shoes instead of playing a game.
∇ The game’s title screen
∇ Search for clues using different apps
∇ Receiving calls
∇ Receiving messages
Too bad that such a great game is not getting a sequel, but this is a decision that we understand. There is no point to continue something that has ended. When asked about future plans, Somi said he would again make an investigation game. This time the protagonist will be a graduate from the police academy. Somi stated clearly that once again, he based this game off current South Korean society.
Does it sound like it is going to be a serious, upsetting game like Replica?
The brain answered, "We’ll see".
P.S. A big thank to Somi for answering our questions!