You can say many things about indie developers, but that they lack imagination and innovation is not one of them. Nowadays most indie developers have somehow made games of anything you can think of, some of them simpler than others. Papers, Please is a clear example of a different type of game that could never be developed by a AAA company.
Among many reasons, is the simplicity of the game, and how it works as a documentary -pun intended- a game about a fictitious country. But is imagination enough to make something anyone can enjoy? Let's talk a little about Papers, Please here.
About the game
We live in 1982, in the imaginary communist Republic of Arstotzka, but we won't be taking into exciting missions, nor are we soldiers going to war with the equally imaginary Kolechia. You won't be fighting to defend your country, nor saving the world from an alien invasion.
In Papers, Please we play as an employee in the Ministry of Immigration, and we are the ones in charge of deciding who gets in and who doesn't. Yes, we are a simple government agent, our job is to place a stamp on the documents of these people, allowing them to get in, or getting them out of our country.
Working 12 Hours a day, you'll have to ask some questions and verify that everything to judge who can get through and enter the country. Keep in mind that this will be getting tougher and tougher by the day and that you only get paid by the number of papers you stamp.
Your pay is minimal, so you'll have to be efficient in your job to guarantee an income for your household, but be careful of becoming corrupt, for there are serious consequences for thin behavior against the motherland.
A new precursor in gaming
This is, by all means, a game not just for fun. But it also serves as some sort of fake documentary about a communist country and their lifestyle. It's serious gaming in every sense. Don't worry, there are some events to lighten things up from time to time, but never fully relax and keep an eye out.
This game could very well be an inspiration for other indie developers such as Sukeban Games, developers of VA-11 HALL-A: A Cyberpunk Bartender Action. A game where your main job is to serve drinks and get to know your customers. This while making sure you're making enough money to pay for your expenses.
Papers, Please is not a game for everybody, nor is it easy to recommend. But what it is is a very interesting experiment about the bureaucracy and corruption of these systems. And it places us in the place of the most normal of beings during a war, which is not something you see every day in gaming.
Graphics and Visuals: The artistic department of this game is excellent. With a design and colors that completely fit the thematic of the title, the graphics are simple yet efficient.
Gameplay: Interesting mechanics in an easy to control the game. Getting to know all your tools is key to spotting out smugglers and liars in your job
Sound: A Minimalist soundtrack that goes incredibly well with the dull, dark atmosphere of the game
Download Papers, Please
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Papers, Please is an interesting indie game, created by creative mind Lucas Pope. It's a mixture of atmospheric storytelling, light puzzle solving, and player choice. Set in the oppressive and depressing fictional country of Arstotzka, you assume the role of an immigration worker at the Grestin Border Checkpoint. As an checkpoint worker, it's your duty to check the credentials of each person attempting to gain access to the country. Regardless of whether it's a returning citizen, an immigrant with a work visa, or a family with shuffled papers, it's your job to both refuse and grant access to Arstotzka. Although it sounds easy enough, the borders of Arstotzka are constantly under attack due to the political pressure from neighboring countries. With each day becoming more gloomy and border restrictions becoming tighter, your job as gatekeeper to the country grows more difficult.
Gameplay in Papers, Please is very straightforward. Stages are split up into days, and each day starts with you reviewing the rules of the checkpoint and opening your shutter to waiting patrons. At its core, you simply need to review the documents provided to you by each new person. As long as the documents align with the day's rules, you may grant them access to Arstotzka. If not, you simply stamp their passport with a denial and send them on their way. At the end of your work day, you're granted a measly salary. With a family to feed and an apartment to keep heated and cooled, you must choose where you want to spend your money when times get tough.
Apart from remembering the increasingly long list of rules at the start of each day, the challenge in Papers, Please often arises from moral dilemmas. As a lowly member of the working class, you have every incentive to follow the rules exactly, otherwise you face the consequence of a docked pay. However, each person you meet at the checkpoint often has a small story of their own, and it's hard not to get attached. For example, do you choose to separate a husband and wife because one of them doesn't have the correct paperwork? Better yet, what if they offer you a substantial bribe? These are the questions you'll be forced to answer, especially as you start to feel the effects of the dystopian Arstotzkan lifestyle and the warring countries around you.
It's the smart combination of puzzle gameplay and moral dilemmas that make Papers, Please stand out from the rest of the pack. Aside from that, the pixelated art style and generally depressing mood of the game makes it a noticeably atmospheric game as well. There's a distinct tone to Papers, Please in both its gameplay and storytelling, and although it's pretty far from cheerful, it's interesting all the same. Luckily, the game offers over a dozen different endings to the story mode, so there's decent incentive to play again. For those interested in testing their puzzle-solving skills, Papers, Please also includes an “Endless Mode”. In this mode, you're tasked with processing as many checkpoint applicants as possible.
Overall, Papers, Please is an interesting indie title with a moody atmosphere and poignant imagery. It delivers a feeling of oppression and rough circumstance in both its story and gameplay, forcing the player to make tough decisions along the way. The puzzle-solving gameplay builds on itself nicely, and each new day presents an evolving challenge of memorization. Papers, Please is a game that forces you to think, both on a grand scale and a personal one. Its a memorable experience to say the least, and many of the events that happen at the Grestin Border Checkpoint will shock you. If you're looking for an intimate game that asks you the tough questions, give Papers, Please a try.
Here we have a game which I was not sure what to expect and in all honesty, thought it sounded rather strange. However, many hours later I found that I was hooked and from the sounds of it this is the case for most people who dive into the world of Papers Please.
I’m a What?
The premise of Papers Please is super weird and in all honesty, I feel this is what some people will have a hard time getting past. Basically, you are working as a person at an immigration desk and you have to decide if people are legit and are allowed into the “paradise” that is Arstotzka from the less than desirable Kolechia. I know that this sounds like it would be super boring and I will not lie, Papers Please starts off very, very slow. However, you find yourself getting more and more invested and the way that you play can go one of two ways. You can either sympathize with these people and be more lenient or you can go on a power trip and look for any reason not to let someone in.
Give Me A Reason!
Speaking of looking for a reason, you work on a cluttered desk and each meeting that you have with a potential person entering Arstotzka will be different. It is up to you to decide if they are legit or not. This means looking for any kind of irregularities in their paperwork. It can be a name that is spelled wrong, the wrong city, the wrong date, a freaking bomb! Or a million other things. You never know what is coming to your desk and that keeps you on your toes. Speaking of your desk this is not just window dressing, your desk is part of the gameplay. The more that you work the more cluttered your desk gets making it harder for you to find certain documents. This requires you to learn as you play and develop your instincts as you are not always going to have on hand what you need to make a decision.
Making The Hard Calls
Papers Please has a story to play through and I thought that it was fantastic. You have so many hard decisions to make. Do you split up this husband and wife and allow one to enter and one to not? Do you really think that one guy is a sex trader and he has that woman with him against her will? Is that person really looking to blow something up? You have all this to deal with, not to mention more personal and sinister things going on that can affect your job.
It sounds like it would be a little on the boring side, but it really is not. You do find yourself getting invested in the story, but this is also my only real issue with the game. After you finish the main story you can “just work” and play through it again. The problem is the game is very story heavy and you have to sit through it all again, I found that while the story was great it is the kind of story that once you have experienced it is not really worth playing a second time.
I really did enjoy my time with Papers Please. It was far more story driven than I thought and I found myself thinking that everyone was trying to scam me and that they were up to no good. While I would say that it does not have a ton of replay value. I do feel that Papers Please is a great experience and well worth checking out.
- The story is way more interesting than you would think
- The presentation is very well done
- You never know what you have to deal with next
- The decisions you make feel like they really matter
- A truly memorable one time experience
- I really would not play through this again
- The story is rather slow to get going