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Papers, Please

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By NeonAnderson02-08-2013
Bobfish (editor)
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
Papers, Please

The Defence

Developer:
3909
Publisher:
3909
Genre:
Adventure, Indie
Release Date:
08-08-2013

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo 1.5 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 8600
AMD equivalent
RAM:
2 GB
HDD:
100 MB
DirectX:

WARNING, THESE DOCUMENTS ARE HIGHLY CLASSIFIED AND ONLY AUTHORISED PERSONNEL MAY READ THEM.

*Unauthorised access may lead to years of imprisonment and potential deportation out of our wonderful nation of Arstotzka*

Inspectors,

Today I bring great news. Our glorious nation has decided to open its borders and allow the suffering people of the other inferior nations entrance into our great and wonderful country.

However, be weary inspectors, not all immigrants have been cleared for entrance into our great country. It is your job and duty as an Arstotzkan border inspector to ensure all people who pass through your border checkpoint have their papers in order! To ensure this we have provided you with the latest technology that our genius scientists have produced. So go! Out there! Do your duty for the glorious country of Arstotzka!

GLORY TO ARSTOTZKA

Signed, the Ministry of Admission

We have a runner!

We have a runner!

Hey, who authorised this message in my preview! Shoo pesky Ministry of Admission and hello my fellow Pixel Judgers! As you might be able to tell from my tone, I am in a great mood today as I bring you a preview of a surprisingly epic and unique indie-developed game called “Papers, Please”. On the official website of Lucas Pope, the developer of Papers, Please the game is described as a “Dystopian Document Thriller”. And indeed, this game could even be perceived as a type of educational title because, by the time you have finished playing it, you will definitely feel as if you have gained some form of new insight and knowledge into the way the world works. At least in terms of immigration. For those among you who have travelled the world quite a bit, you will have experienced these kind of situations first-hand.

I can see the mystification on your faces already. You are saying “Tell us Neon then what the hell this game is?!?” Well yes, it is a game and yes, it is really fun and addictive but at the same time it also manages to raise your blood pressure, illicit emotional responses and, if that wasn’t enough, it raises your awareness about immigration policies around the world. This game is a bundle of different things and the first of its kind, so please, if you would all clap and applaud the great work of Lucas Pope on this title!

In simple terms, all you do is check the papers of immigrants. While this sounds very boring the way in which the game is designed makes it anything but. Behind such simple mechanics are layers of story, intrigue, espionage, terrorism and comedy. To make things even more complex the character you play as is actually supposed to be you (unless you are a girl, sadly the game does not *yet* allow you to pick and/or customise the gender and look of your inspector). You also have an entire family to take care of; you have a mother-in-law, uncle, wife, and son. The status of these people impact the story as you progress through the game. Every day you have rent, food, and heating to pay for. If you can’t pay for food or heating one day, then you have the high risk of one of your family members getting sick and this will then require doctor fees or medicine, which puts even further strain on your income.

All clear, strange.

All clear, strange.

To make matters worse, as in real-life, there is also inflation and other situations that can put further stress on your income. Surprisingly, I found myself trying harder and harder with each playthrough to maximise my income and thus do my job as fast as possible. Yet at the same time you have to pay attention to so many different details on the papers you are checking, as well as cross-reference this with the news each day, the story the people give when they come to your checkpoint and so on.

As a result of this, you really start to feel the strain and stress put on the character you are playing and things can actually become pretty sombre when you make a mistake or things go wrong. Additionally Lucas Pope has implemented a sort of linear path of events that build on each other. Thus, depending on your actions and choices on previous days, you will change the course of the story. This still just amazes me as all you really are doing is approving or denying entrants into the country you live in - Arstotzka. But all of this story that I did not expect to find in a game that works with such simple gameplay mechanics, really just blew me away. I keep saying the mechanics are simple however there are a lot of actions available to you and this only increases the further you get into the game; on the first day you can only stamp passports, on the second day you can start cross-checking details, on the third day you can start interrogating people. This continues and eventually you gain the ability to have people arrested and even x-ray them to check if they are bearing any illegal weapons or drugs. The x-ray machine is also used to check the gender of people as this is not always clear. You can also fingerprint people to check if it is really them in their picture or if the names do not seem to match.

With all these tools at your disposal, your goal is to do things as quickly as possible. If you take too long, any people processed after 6 PM will not earn you income and this will affect the people you have to support. At the same time if you do things wrong you will end up getting warnings or even penalised income. Or worse. At the same time, occasionally you have to pay attention to the people and keep your eye out for the story and choices you are being presented. Here you still get choices but, unlike other games, it is not presented in the shape of a clearly identifiable button labelled ‘press this to advance the story’; you have to keep your eyes out for actions available to you for the story choices.

We have to do screening just to make sure what the gender is.

We have to do screening just to make sure what the gender is.

While the beta only goes for roughly 10 days it goes plenty far to show the potential and uniqueness of this game, as well as having built me up for the choices I have made and left me with an insatiable desire to find out what happens next and where my choices will ultimately lead.

All in all, there is a lot of promise here and I really hope the fun and uniqueness of the game are prominent in the final build too. I really hope Lucas Pope will fix the issue with the small workspace. Seriously. It is not even funny how small your workspace is for how many documents you need to put there.

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Comments (8)
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Posts: 3290

Were you arrested for delinquency too? That's how my first time ended...after four days >_<

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Posts: 240

So, after one hour which ended in my arrest in the middle of the night, I have to say that this game is fascinating and really bloody good. Really unique title we have here.

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Posts: 596

It is dark, but also sadly realistic in some ways. I mean heck, just deal with border control and immigration in any European country and you will see. All the while in Europe illegal immigration keeps increasing every year... and it is no surprise really as legal immigration is designed very poorly and is completely impractical. Often requesting documents that the immigrant's country MIGHT NOT EVEN HAVE!!! Complete insanity!

But yeah, the game is great, it has a dark tone, but also a definite documentary element to it. The picture device for example is the backscatter scanner at airports (which btw was bribed into service as in it NEVER PASSED HEALTH TESTS!!!) So while it is dark, it has a scary amount of fact to it.

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Posts: 53

Wow this looks like one really dark game.

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Posts: 233

GLORY TO ARSTOTZKA (The awesomeness of ARSTOTZKA warrants the caps)

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Posts: 3290

Exactly!

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Posts: 596

Yeah Bobfish, in this case that is definitely true! But behind all the simplicity is also so much complexity. Really looking forward to the full release of this title!

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Posts: 3290

It's like I keep saying. Sometimes, often times, most times even. Most times, the simplest things are the best. Their simplicity is their strength. It allows a much tighter focus