Sunday, 27 October 2013

Indie Gaming: Papers Please

Glory To Arstotzka! The October labour lottery has been completed. Your name was pulled. You have been selected to write the review for the game "Papers, Please". Do a good job, your country is counting on you.
In Papers, Please you play a humble border checkpoint operator. It is your task to process the entry documents of all persons wishing to enter Arstotzka. The year is 1982, and while the countries are all fictional, the design truly makes you feel like you are working for an oppressive authoritarian regime.

The colours are muted, full of browns and grey. Most people look glum and tired, desperate to enter. You accept or deny them based on a sea of bureaucracy, all confined to your small desk. As the game progresses your booth gains extra equipment, including a body scanner. You must do your job to feed your family, but make too many mistakes (deliberately or otherwise) and you will be heavily fined.

Significant choices are thrown at you each day. Should you help a couple stay together, even though one of their documents is invalid? Should you detain more people and take a kickback from the guards, or should you just deny them and let them go on their way? All the while you are being monitored by your superiors, and you have to choose whether to take part in a rebellious conspiracy.

The work is just as dull as I imagine a real border office to be, but you are on a very short clock and the queue is endless. The more people you process the better off you will be, but I always found myself being just a little bit too hasty and letting through far too many mistakes.

The threat of terrorism brings extra challenge, as an incident will close the border for the rest of the day (restricting your income). Later on, security cuts mean you are required to assist in taking down anyone who violates the border. You have a tranquillizer gun and three darts - do not miss.

There are twenty different endings, and so far I think I've seen three or four. Getting a "good" ending seems to be immensely difficult, the ones I've seen so far have been a little bleak. My ability to scan through passports and documents has become a lot better though, so perhaps next time I'll get the ending I seek.


  1. This looks like a really interesting game, but just don't have the money to spend on it yet.

    1. I would think it'll be on sale over the winter holiday season, so you might be able to pick it up cheaper then.

      It's definitely worth playing, I haven't played anything quite like it before.