Papers Please

Papers Please screenshot

First Impressions: In Papers, Please, the player plays as a border inspector, making sure that people who want to enter the country present the legal documents necessary. The primary resource that the player cares about is credits, which is used to pay rent, food, heating, and other living expenses. The player earns credits based on how many people are correctly processed, which encourages going fast. However, there is punishment for making an incorrect decision, which prevents players from getting careless. 
 
Story-wise, it seems that you are just trying to make a living to support your family. If you’ve proven to be an impressive inspector, the extra credits can be used to afford higher tier housing.

 

Going Further: There are lots of temptations given to the player make an exception. Your country, Arstotzka, continually increases the amount of documents/registered information required to allow people through. Thus when you catch people perhaps missing document(s), and they claim to have been unaware of security level increasing while having family waiting for them, it becomes very tempting from an ethical point of view to make an exception. However, because you need to make a living, and because your financial situation is very tight, you end up making the correct official decision most times. 
 
Story-wise, there is another temptation to help the Order of the EZIC star, who plan on overthrowing what they claim to be the corrupt Arstotzkan government. They send you a cash temptation of thousands of credits (which can pay for living for the entire game), but if accepted, you will be detected and killed shortly after. This game really knows how to throw genuinely tempting traps at the player, while keeping a great balance in game mechanics. 
 
Without actually complaining about the game, I want to address desk space as a point of frustration when playing. In later stages, I want to have everything laid out so I can quickly detect flaws in documentation, but that isn’t quite possible. This may be intended as a way to keep the game challenging, but it is a hardship nonetheless 
 
The resolution of the game is also suboptimal. It would be nice to have a 1920x1080 version of this game. 
 
However, none of these critiques detract from how great this game is as a whole. The game mechanics are great, accommodating to slower and faster players. The decisions that the player needs to make on the spot can really play with emotions, and the events that happen in the game seem realistic enough to imagine that the player can really get into the game world. 
 

Platform
Reviewed by
Ardamax