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Papers, Please review
by jorrybaby

I didn't know anything about Papers, Please before diving in, apart from knowing I enjoyed Lucas Pope's offbeat specificity-based humour, having had a grand old time with his second major release, The Return of the Obra Dinn. Much like its successor, it's not easy to describe how Papers, Please works to someone who hasn't played it - and even if you manage to get across what the core mechanics are, it would still be a challenge to describe what it is actually *enjoyable* about it. I'm still not really sure it's a "fun" game in the traditional sense, but one of the most remarkable things about it is how it manages to create the atmosphere of mundanity without actually being overwhelmingly boring. In particular, because the core gameplay loop is a bureaucracy simulator, it's the small emotive moments (gratitude, despair, a friendly (?) face) that stick with you.

The game is devious in how it sucks you into the work - for it is very much work that you are doing when "playing" the game. Looking back, it's a bit disturbing how speedily I acquiesced to being a cog of state machinery - this might just say something about me, but (I hope) it's also the game cleverly highlighting the logic and power of political structure, rigigity, and order. For me, the crowning achievement of Papers, Please is how effectively it highlights the absurdity and inhumanity of border politics. I completely understand why this game was such a hit when it was first released in 2013. But I would argue that in a lot of ways (and very depressingly), the game's politics are even more relevant today, when state-sanctioned border violence, soul-crushing bullshit work, and poverty wages are under increased public scrutiny.

Other reviews10

simple but really fun
i love communism
not the most fun game but i can appreciate the work that was put into it. i like how it looks and how it has you make moral choices a lot but for some reason i just cant get myself to play it again
9.0/10 - A very unique game.
«Can’t stop playing»
Fun stuff
«Just one more turn»
«Can’t stop playing»
«Blew my mind»
Translated by
Microsoft from Deutsch
"Papers, Please" cannot be compared to other Titles. Political Satire? Work Simulator? Control Fetish? In any Case, the indie pearl is singular. The communist State Of Arstotzka is pleased to inform You that You have won in the labour Lottery and Are happy about a highly coveted job as a border Player of our glorious Homeland. Long live Arstotzka! You are allowed to defend our Motherland. At the Desk. With the Stamp. For Arstotzka remains communist, even if the counter-revolutionary Enemies around us prefer to bomb us away. Just on Christmas, communism in its Run does not stop either Ox or Donkey! Long live Arstotzka! Be Borderline! Be a Civil servant! Be a Controller! Penible and fussy. Incorruptible and unyielding. For Society. For our Motherland! Be ready at all times! Long live Arstotzka! Before I get completely lost in Propaganda Malt Now ... What is the real Issue of "Papers, Please" We play on a day-to-day basis. As Border Agents, we get slightly changed Regulations every Morning. There are Foreigners of a particular Country Needing an extra entry permit, for example, or an extra Work Permit if they commemorate in our beautiful Country (Long live Arstotzka!... To work in debt). Or People from a particular Country need to be scanned. After we open our Shop, we ask the first one at our Counter, he presents the Papers and we have to control them. Whether ID Number and Name in the passport and the Entry permit match, for example, whether the work Permit is valid, whether Names match, the Weight and Size in the Passport is correct, the photo corresponds to the Person and the registered Sex. Every now and then we have to Take Fingerprints for identification, or scan people, because some people try to smuggle Things or even carry a Bomb under their Clothes. Manchesmal is not so easy to work Out the Control needs, because our rather small Desk does not exactly help to arrange the Flood Of documents. Is all checked we resort to our most important Tool, the Damocles sword of the Border Agent, the Stamp with which we either approve or reject Entry. And then it's the next Person willing to enter. In Principle, that's the whole Game. Sounds monotonous? But It is not. On the contrary. In our Neck hangs the Clock, which is always ticking too fast. A Working day is over faster than we would like, because we are paid after successful Clearances. Our state-allocated Apartment, where our entire Family is living, generates ongoing Costs. If we have handled too few at the End of a Working day, we may have to give up Heating the next Day, which in turn can lead our Mother-in-law to Illness or, at worst, to Death. Good and yet speedy Control Work is therefore vital for survival, especially since we are happy to Be fined for Mistakes. In Story Mode, which exists alongside endless mode, we repeatedly make difficult moral Decisions when a Lady with false Papers in her Homeland is threatened with torture and Prison. In addition, we always come into Contact with an Underground Movement. Should we support them or follow our Mission? Graphically, the Game moves to the simplest 8-Bit level. The Surface practically does not change, everything is pixelated, colorful and edgy. And that's exactly how it hits the Style necessary for the Content perfectly. Likewise, the sporadic Sounds and simple, always repetitive Music are matching the Setting. The Amazing thing about "Papers, Please": We develop into a functioning public Servant in no Time, become unyielding, emotional, just thinking of our own Woe, losing our Humanity. "Papers, Please" manages-and this is outstanding-better than so much Documentation to make the Mechanisms of a totalitarian State tangible, to make it tangible With the simplest of Mechanics. "Papers, Please" is work, is brittle, is repetetive, but that is precisely where its exceptional Quality lies. The Idea is ingenious, the Execution highly skilful, intelligent, sovereign and partly also ironic. Rating: 10/10 Atmosphere 9/10 Story 8/10 Graphic 8/10 Sound 8/10 Game Mechanics 10/10 Game Pass Conclusion: Long live Arstotzka! 10/10 Overall Rating
Translated by
Microsoft from Norsk
Perfectionism to the degrees. Not a hint of bumps. The music and appearance make me feel like I'm in corrupt Russia in old days. The game goes to our security controller who will check the identity of people who will pass the border of the country of Astortzka, and your job is to check all the requirements the administration has laid for the security protocol. Every day, a new requirement is added that makes it more advanced and challenging. I had this game on PC, and the first thing I thought was; this had been perfect for the ipad, and that was it. Though the price of the game is a bit high, it's definitely it. The game is faithfully made by a person who deserves the money and well so.  6/6 is highly recommended
Translated by
Microsoft from Dutch
The atmosphere is good in this game. At the end of November an endless row of winter coats is waiting to pass your newly opened border post. You are new to the job, because you have won the monthly labor lottery, and are chosen to man this booth. You start your work very awkwardly. It's going slowly. Time is ticking away while you try to stamp within the lines and check everything double or triple. That is why you come home with a low wage. The rent and heating costs of your new home prove sky-high, and moreover your family is very hungry. All your savings then go there. Hopefully things will get better tomorrow. That is of course disappointing, and every day you are presented with new regulations from the regime that always seems to be looking over your shoulder and tapping your fingers. Asking people questions about papers that are not in order, taking fingerprints when in doubt, detaining people or turning a blind eye. It goes from bad to worse. It is very simple, but every detail has been thought through and everything is open to interpretation. That's the fun thing about this game. In no time at all, you have turned into a surly bureaucrat who rejects papers without glances and blushes and throws them back over the counter without mercy, after which the person who has not been able to see his family for six years turns around and drips. You try to work more efficiently and therefore you become immediately impatient when someone starts a chat before issuing their passports. You run lives. You try to survive. You become ruthless. You decide who comes and goes in Arstotzka! Next!