Papers, Please Review

Papers, Please is unexpectedly addictive that working at passport control is now cool.

Has there ever been a game that sounded so unappealing to you that when, by recommendation or by chance, you play it and you fall head over heels in love with it? That's exactly how I'd describe Papers, Please to someone that is reluctant to play this addictive, exciting game about checking people's passports.

I'm serious, this game is unbelievable.

In Papers, Please, you play as a border controller for the "glorious" fictional nation of Artstotska. It is your mission to decide whether people are allowed to enter the country or not and you are free to either follow the rules, try and allow an outside group to take over or do cause chaos if you really wanted to.

The game is a mix of pixelated graphics, dull colours and text boxes, yet it works beautifully because it feels individual to Papers, Please. All of them were purposeful design choices that fit so snugly within the faux-Eastern European/Communist aesthetic, everything seems to be done for a reason and it just helps engross you in the experience.

Checking people's paperwork is strangely entertaining

As for the actual gameplay, it's very different to anything you might have played before. Your work as border patrol sees you looking at people's passports and various documentation, checking they match up with the rulebook or what you can see and deciding whether they can enter the country or not.

As you progress through the days, the more documents and various changing rules come in to play. It starts with foreigners need an entry ticket, which changes to a permit, then residents need ID cards, then if a foreigner wants a job they need another paper, then they also need ID supplements before an epidemic includes medical forms and so forth. It adds to the challenge, the speed that you can process people before the end of the day and it keeps things interesting, you never want to miss that one bit of information.

The more people you see to, the more money you get to pay for food, heat, shelter and medicine for your family so you're incentivized to improve processing people through so that you can gain new perks and new accommodations. Why is that an incentive? well should you lose family members you could end up with entirely different endings.

There are 20 different endings in the game that range from committing too many mistakes too often, to killing guards or attempting to overthrow the government. You never really get the same playthrough each time you play, it's interesting to try and find the alternative endings and one of them grants you access to the endless mode.

Are you "really" sure you're a woman?

There are a few complaints, but even then they are fairly nit-picky. On occasion when you question someone's gender on first look then you are told by the inspection system it's matching can be odd, especially when the face animation has a beard and it's a woman. Also, the fact that perks to slightly speed up your job are tied to money can restrict gameplay if you're going for a certain ending and the advantage isn't enough to warrant the expense.

However, considering all the above, I don't think there is a game that is so addictive so quickly. You feel a great sense of pride when you get a perfect day or when you prove someone wrong, it becomes that kind of drug that keeps bringing you back to find that other ending or earning that other nation's coin.

Even if you have your doubts, pick up this game. It's only for PC, it regularly comes up on their sales but it's also available right now on Steam in the UK for just £7.99/$9.99 USD, and you will not regret it. This is a real gem that everyone should experience for its complete and unashamed uniqueness.

Our Rating
Papers, Please is unexpectedly addictive that working at passport control is now cool.


Journalism graduate that's trying to find his way in the wide world whilst trying to convince others to play some games they might have missed.

Published Aug. 23rd 2014

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