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License:
Shareware (Free to try)
Size:
12.27 MB
Updated:
Downloads:
1895
Platform:
Windows All
Publisher:
Lucas Pope(more)
Website:
FindMySoft Editor's Review
Papers, Please - immigration inspector simulation game
Review by on
Papers, Please is one of those games that manages to impress not with graphics and special effects, but with the unique idea behind it. You can call this multi-award-winning indie game a customs officer simulator or, better yet, a bureaucracy simulator. It places you in the role of a customs office, in the fictional Republic of Arstotzka, a totalitarian state, which recently ended a war and reopened a border checkpoint. Your role is to check people's passports, make sure everything is in order, and allow them to pass or deny them entry. It sounds simple on paper, but there's nothing simple about Eastern European-like bureaucracy, especially when you have a family to care for.

Papers, Please is available for purchase for Windows, Mac, Linux, as well as mobile platforms, like Apple's iPad or Sony's PlayStation Vita. A free Beta version is available, which you can play up to a certain point in the story, which is enough to see what the game has to offer. It comes in a ZIP archive, and you only need to unpack it and launch it. There's no need to go through an installation process, and you don't need to worry about any system requirements.

You spend your in-game time in a border checkpoint. A huge line of people is waiting outside to pass through your checkpoint, but you have only a limited amount of time each day to process them one by one. When a person enters your booth, they will present their passport, and you will have to click it and drag it to the larger area of the screen to inspect it. If everything is in order, you may place a green "Approved" stamp, but if the picture doesn't correspond with the person's face, if the passport is expired, the issuing city is wrong or if there are any other discrepancies, you have to place a red "Denied" stamp and send the person back from where they came.

The game starts you off pretty easily. On the first day, you have to allow only citizens of Arstotzka to pass, on the second, the border will open up to everyone, and you will have to check expiration dates and other details carefully. You can point out discrepancies by using a tool to select the conflicting pieces of information, though you're not obligated to point them out at least during the first half of the game. Among the common rabble that tries to get in, you will also deal with smugglers, spies and terrorists, and it's up to you to spot them and decide how to deal with them.

As the days go by, your job will become increasingly difficult. Certain events will prompt the government to tighten up security, so people will require more and more papers. First, they will need an entry ticket, with the current date on them. After a few other incidents, those seeking to pass will need an entry permit, with serial numbers that must match the ones on their passports, the purpose and duration of their visit and other details. This is where things will start getting complicated because you will need to make sure every detail is in order. In certain cases, you have to consult a manual, to make sure a logo is correct or whether an issuing city is in the country that issued the passport.

Later in the game, people who are looking to work in the glorious Republic of Arstotzka will need a working permit, which brings you more details to check. An epidemic will force people to present a health certificate, and other events will keep on piling up more work on your desk. Not only will you have to verify more and more information, but you will also need to comply with certain directives from the ministry, like denying citizens from a certain country or doing a strip search on others, and you will have to do all these things in a limited amount of time.

You have to stamp passports during the day and care for your family in the evening. This is a secondary mechanic of the game, which makes things quite interesting. You get paid for each person that's allowed to pass without any discrepancies, but you also get penalized if someone slips through with papers that are not in order. At the end of the day, you get paid according to your performance, and you have to use that money to pay your rent, heating bill and to buy food. Your family members will get sick if you fail to meet these needs for too long, which makes you pay more for medicine, otherwise, they will die.

The family mechanics do much more than making the game little more than a stamp-em-up simulator. It actually makes everything take a turn for the bleak and depressing. During your working hours, a series of unique events will present themselves, and you could take advantage of them to score some extra cash. However, you will also have to make some rather tough decisions. For example, a woman with no paperwork will beg you to let her through, otherwise, she will be executed. In moments like this, you have to decide whether to save another person's life and be penalized or condemn her to her fate so that you can provide for your own family.

The game has twenty endings, which depend on the decisions you make during those special events. You could choose to not get involved in any risky businesses and end up an average worker, help out a conspiracy group and take difficult decisions that could end up hurting you, just to protect your family. There are many paths you can explore.

Papers, Please has simple, MS-DOS-like graphics, but they still manage to evoke a depressing atmosphere, especially when coupled with the soundtrack that feels like it's bearing down on you. It had a huge success when it was launched and rightfully so. What makes it even more amazing is the fact that Lucas Pope, the developer, is the only person who has worked on the game. He has other interesting games to offer, with unique mechanics, like the critically acclaimed Return of the Obra Dinn, which is worth checking out just as much as Papers, Please.

The gritty and depressing scenarios and all the moral dilemmas you have to go through make Papers, Please a clear example of video game art at its finest.

Pros:
The game has clear and fun mechanics. The old-school graphics and soundtrack manage to make the game quite atmospheric. It has a shallow difficulty curve, so you won't have trouble learning to play.

Cons:
On Windows 10, the game will fail to load its soundtrack and won't launch, if you don't have your speakers or headphones plugged in.


You can download Papers, Please free here.
About the author: Frederick Barton
Frederick is a software review editor at FindMySoft. From gadgets to software.
You can follow him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter


Papers, Please Awards
Papers, Please Editor's Review Rating
Papers, Please has been reviewed by Frederick Barton on 26 Jul 2019. Based on the user interface, features and complexity, Findmysoft has rated Papers, Please 5 out of 5 stars, naming it Essential
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