‘Papers, Please’: A Dystopian Adventure in the Art of Paper Pushing
When I think of embarking on an exciting adventure in the form of a video game, the last place my mind wanders is jumping into a paper-pushing simulator after a day at work. The unique journey of ‘Papers, Please’ takes players on a thrilling rollercoaster, in an almost choose-your-own-adventure style of play. The game presents a number of scenarios throughout the story that lead you down different paths, and in turn, different endings. Will you help immigrants trying to better their lives, even though they do not have the proper documentation to get across the border? Will you work with rebel groups to assassinate potential threats?
These are just a few of the many decisions that you will face in ‘Papers, Please’; the latest game from Lucas Pope. While on the surface ‘Papers, Please’ seems like a simple indie game, it is at its core, a very in depth game that will tug at your emotions and have you questioning how you would approach these situations in real life.
The game takes place in the fictional country of Arstozka in the early 1980’s. The full game takes you through the course of 40 in-game days, all the while increasing the difficulty and changing the requirements for proper admission to your country. On day one, passports and identification cards are your primary concern. As the days go on, work visas, immigration certificates and many other documents are added. All the while you are cross-referencing information to ensure that the next in line to enter your homeland are in fact, who they say they are. Forged documents and expired passports are all-too-common, and without a keen eye for detail you will quickly rack up a number of fines.
Fines at first don’t seem to be a huge deal, but you are paid based on the number of people you let through each day. You get a few warnings at the beginning of each day, however the more mistakes you make, the more money is taken from your daily pay, which makes it very difficult to feed your family, pay rent and keep the heater running. In the game, it was not long before I found myself making deals with guards to get a bonus for more detainees, just so I could buy medicine for my sick son at home.
At face value, ‘Papers, Please’ seems like nothing but an oddity. However, once you get into the core of the gameplay, you quickly become emotionally invested and actually caring about the in-game characters. Check out Lucas Pope, the ‘Papers, Please’ website and the game’s page on Steam below.
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Glory to Arstrozka!