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Papers, Please is an independent puzzle simulation video game developed and published by the game developer Lucas Pope. In Papers, Please, you will embody an inspector in a fictional dystopian eastern bloc, working in a booth located at the border of another hostile country. As an immigration officer, you will be in charge of reviewing migrants and stating who can enter your country, the glorious Arstotzka, and who cannot.
The story takes place in the fictional country of Arstotzka, where a 6-year war has recently ended with neighboring Kolechia. Now the half of the border of the town Greeting is reclaimed. As an immigration inspector, you will have to handle the flow of people who want to enter the great Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Pay attention to every piece of detail before granting entrance to every immigrant because spies, terrorists, and smugglers might get hidden among the crowd. Use all the tools you have and decide who can or cannot enter your great country. Welcome officer, praised be your judgment, glory to Arstotzka.
- Do your job: Everyday you will go through 4 stages. The first stage consists of a view of the newspaper's front page called The Truth of Arstotzka, where you will see the main headlines that will change depending on your earlier action. The second stage is composed of your daily routine, where you will walk into your booth and review the official bulletin and new orders. Again, this is scripted, and some government authorities will visit you. During the third stage, you will call entrants one after another from 6 am to 6 pm, as indicated by the in-game clock (the total duration ranges from 4 to 9 minutes). Your job will be to inspect all entrants' documents using all kinds of tools (depending on the daily orders), stating if the papers are in order or not, and stamping the passport with 'DENIED' or 'APPROVED'. The final stage will start when you finish your daily job, or if any scripted event ends the day, you will be able to allocate credits and pay your bills. Some events like gifts from strangers or family events may happen.
- A well-paced gameplay: Even though the main game mechanics might seem simple, you will slowly but surely find yourself more and more suspicious. The game will let you discover all the tools and techniques you can use, a frictionless and well-paced learning curve.
- A good narrative: Even though the plot might seem simple, the narrative is also well-paced, and your little booth is tiny enough to make your work feel repetitive but essential.
- An addictive inspection mechanic: Each entrant will give you their documents, and the inspection will start. You will analyze one or two documents simultaneously to check information correlation among all the provided papers and information in your records. If you find conflicting information, the text 'Discrepancy detected' will be displayed, and you will be able to interrogate the entrant. The interrogation allows the entrant to correct the discrepancy. If the entrant can't correct it, you can either end the interrogation or take further actions like thorough search, fingerprint alias test, or detainment. As an inspector, you will have the power to state the document's validity whenever your want.
- Morals choices: Your choices will have consequences, be lazy, and you might allow terrorists to enter your glorious country, be overzealous, and you might separate family members. But, depending on your mood, you will quickly embody your character and get caught up in the game. Remember that you will have to pay bills and take care of your family. You might also want to reach achievements. These parameters will make you realize that being an inspector is not always easy.
- Another day, maybe the last: The game will trigger scripted events that will show you poor, desperate people, or on the contrary, terrorists. Sometimes, events will happen outside of your booth and bring more tensions to your duty.
- Achievements: You will be able to earn achievements if you play on Steam. Those achievements will likely shape the way you play and bring lots of replayability.
Graphics and sound
The whole game aesthetic is quite crude but curiously makes you feel the whole game and your action more real. It really succeeds in building a realistic atmosphere. A good old style for a good old scenario. The sound and audio feedback are also simple but enhance the stunning atmosphere.
Duration and game modes
The game offers a solo experience and averagely lasts 5-7 hours if you only focus on the main objectives. Because up to 20 different ends are available, you can play up to 15-17 hours if you are a completionist. The game also lets you choose among three game modes, but some of them will have to be unlocked:
- The classic mode: This is the primary game mode which lasts 31 days, each day you will earn five credits for each entrant that has been handled according to immigration protocol.
- The easy mode: This is the same rule as the classic mode. You can play the story mode with easy difficulty set in the preferences. You will get 20 credits at the end of each day
- The endless mode: In the endless mode, you will be able to play one of three games types, including Timed, Perfection, and Endurance, each of them with an endless flow of procedural entrants. A 5-digit code can unlock this mode; it is revealed after reaching the 20th ending in story mode. You will also be able to choose among four different rule sets for any game type. In Timed, you will have to process as many travelers as possible in 10 minutes (+1 point for each correctly processed entrant, +5 seconds and +1 point for each detained entrant, –30 seconds for each incorrectly processed entrant). In Perfection, the game is over if you fail to respect the immigration protocol (+10 points for each correctly processed entrant in the first minute, one less point for each minute that passes until you get +1 point per entrant, in which the points per properly processed entrant will not lower any more). Finally, in Endurance, you can play until the balance goes negative (+1 point for each correctly processed entrant, +2 points for each detained entrant, –5 × n points for each incorrectly processed entrant, n is the number of citations received).
What do the reviews say?
The game has been rated 85/100 on Metacritic.
"An incredibly impressive little game, from its understated old-school art style to its ability to make you feel uncomfortable with how much you enjoy catching criminals trying to trick their way into your country." (GameFront).
Papers, Please has been rated PEGI 16 as it contains non-realistic looking violence towards human-like characters, sexual expletives, and some mild blood effects are shown.
Is it free?
The Papers, Please version we provide you is the perfectly functional and free beta version of the game.