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Papers Please Pleases Players

Posted on March 26, 2013 AT 02:37pm

Just when I thought every game about a menial job had already been made, I happen to find Papers, Please.  This title has you manning the booth at border control for the fictional country of Arstotzkan, painstakingly comparing entry documents and allowing or denying people entry.  While the task you’re assigned in this game sounds rather dull on paper, pun intended, with the twists they throw into the mix, it creates an exciting and sometimes stressful game that becomes hard to quit.

As with any good game, Papers, Please starts by easing you into the experience.  Your first job is to simply deny entry to anyone not from your homeland.  As each day cycles through, the parameters for whom you may let through the border becomes more and more complex.  Once you get deep enough into the game, it becomes about searching through as many parameters as fast as possible and allowing or denying them entry based on your instinct.

The game gives you several documents to aid you in your ability to inspect a persons papers.  First off is a manual that contains all of the basic rules for the day as well as a map with information about all the countries from which people are coming.  A recorder keeps track of everything they say once they’re in the booth and there are of course the papers they hand you as well.

When you manage to find an inconsistency between two documents, you have the option to ask them about it.  Sometimes they’ll give you an answer that solves the issue and sometimes they’ll outright deny it.  Either way, it’s up to you at that point to either deny, detain or allow them to pass though.  In my experience so far, I’ve been mostly denying them at that point, but a few of the discrepancies try to tug at your heartstrings a little bit.  One good example is where a man whose papers are all fine asks you to let his wife through right after him.  She is missing one of the papers and tells you she will be killed by her country if she isn’t let through.  If you let her through, you could be penalized, so it adds another element to your decision.

Another parameter to juggle amongst the rest is your cold, starving family.  Each day you earn a salary based on the amount of people you were able to process during the day.  If you make mistakes, you can be penalized monetarily and it’s game over when you can’t afford your rent.  Occasionally, your family will need something special like medicine which might take a larger toll on your already thin wallet.

The real gem of this game though, are the interactions you have with the various people coming through the booth.  Some people are hilarious, some are surprisingly dark.  You might find yourself with someone who is simply passing through, but hates your country at one point and someone with a laughably fake passport the next.  I still have a ways to go with this game, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite things to play when I have some downtime at home.  It’s available for free on PC and Mac at the website below.  Check it out and thank me later.  Or curse my name, depending on how much you needed to get done this week.

Papers, Please Website


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