Papers, Please

There are many stereotypes we recognise when referring to late millenium Soviet block culture.

Eastern Europe has us believing everybody queues for a loaf of bread and during months of famine they eat the leather strips from their chairs.

It’s also re-known for its border control and the constant hustle bustle of traffic from one country to the other. Which is what this game’s based on.

As insane as this sounds, the aim of the goal is to effectively manage a passport control office where you, as the protagonist, are tasked with balancing a mindless job of stamping passports with whether you can afford to pay for heating at home.

Papers Please

What’s even more insane is that it’s utterly addictive and I have not been able to put it down, chalking up another win for the indie wave.

Your job, as an utterly desperate citizen of Arstotzka, is to check the credentials of every person coming into border control, cross checking against passports, entry cars, access cards, medical cards, work visas, etc. etc. against the daily restrictions imposed upon a variety of the neighbouring countries.

I can’t even….

It’s pointless trying to review this game. It’s too weird for words. But it is freaking addictive. It’s also embarrassingly touching at times with the feelings of desolation and desperation bleeding through between the 8 bit dialogue. Do you do your job to the letter, go home with your measly paycheck and literally make a decision on either food for that night or medicine for your sick son? Or do you accept a bribe to allow someone through the gate for an additional 5 credits? It’s gloomy make no mistake.

chalking up another win for the indie wave

Papers Please manages to capture this real sense of how important your job actually is. You notice that the height declared is different to what you see now. So you ask for fingerprints. it matches so you let them through with a stamp of approval on their passport. Except as you see them walk away you receive a citation for failing to notice that the passport issuing city in their country is fabricated and non-existent. Always followed by a curse. Always.

It’s too short though. There are multiple endings and you find yourself traveling, time traveller style, between save points to ensure you catch all endings. They’re all bad. All depressing and end up with you being shoved into labour camps or your family returned back to the village they came from..

I can also end on this line. It’s not mine unfortunately but stolen from a forum:

“There is more character in one of these lumpy pixel faces than in all of Mass Effect’s 300 million polygon boobs and butts characters mo-cap’d to hell and back.”