Who thought that making a game based on stamping papers at a checkpoint would be fun? Apparently Lucas Pope did. And it is amazing.
Papers, Please was released in 2013 by Lucas Pope. The game has the player’s name pulled from the October Labor Lottery, meaning you now run the border of two fictional countries: Kolechia and Arstotzka.
The goal of the game is to approve or deny passports, based on the documents the player is given by the applicant. As the game progresses, more documents are added for the player to stamp, as well as more responsibilities. During the player’s time at the checkpoint, the story unravels more and more, to the point where the inspector need to pick a side.
When the player fails to notice if there is something wrong with the papers, they get a citation. If the inspector gets more than two citations, they will lose money for every next citation.
The player must also make emotional routes. Be it stopping a brothel from a note a woman gives, having a man kill a serial killer in an act of revenge, or giving someone a love note, there are many ways the player must think for themselves.
Near the beginning of the game, the inspector is approached by a hooded figure, saying that “The Order Awaits.” The anarchy starts, as you slowly realize the atrocities Arstotzkan officials make.
At the end of the day, the player needs to balance food and heat for the family. If the money comes up short, there may need to be some trade offs, like not buying heat, food, or both. The player’s family can get sick, and medicine needs to be bought if they get sick, adding to the expenses.
Throughout the game, the revolution against Arstotzka, known as The Order of the Ezic Star, gives the inspector certain tasks to fulfill, like poisoning an applicant to letting people through. It is essential to help the order, in order to get a good ending.
There are 20 endings to the game. Actions can have consequences, so be clear on what is going on.
Papers, Please has a moderately low replay value, but is great your first run through. The game is available on PC and Mac for $9.99 via Steam, and is also available on iPhone and iPad.