Developer: Lucas Pope
Release Date: 8/8/2013
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I honestly went into this game not expecting much. It is an 8-bit style game where you stamp papers for people. Sounds boring right? Far from it, and I mean very far. This is one of the most addictive and fun indie games I have ever played. This game kept me away from Skyrim, Splinter Cell Blacklist, and Saints Row IV. How can a $10 game keep me away from such high budget splendor? Its unique and so much fun. I honestly don’t even know if it’s a puzzle game and adventure game or…something. It’s something, but so original that it creates a new category all on its own. You play as a Russian citizen who gets his name drawn in a labor lottery to work the customs booth at a border check. The story isn’t exactly deep, but the atmosphere is tense and gritty.
You start out every day by reading the headlines in the paper and walk to work (you don’t actually do the walking). The top half of the screen is the line at the border and everything going on. Guards are patrolling, cars are passing by, and you will occasionally witness terrorist attacks. The bottom part of the screen is split into two parts. The left side is your counter and window. This is where you receive everyone’s passports and various papers as well as your rule book and bulletin for the day. You must make sure everyone’s credentials are matching before you stamp their approval. You start out with a simple task of just making sure the issuing city matches the right province. You check this in your rule book. If this doesn’t match up you go into inspection mode and click the info you see wrong with the corresponding contradictory info. This gives you a personal touch to the game and makes you feel like you are in control of these people’s lives.
Before you roll your eyes, this isn’t some sort of Burger Builder or any other type of mobile game. You get more and more papers to check as the game progresses. You get special assignments such as confiscating certain citizens passports, stamp the reason for denial, cross-check shot records, match up ID numbers, height, weight, birthday, expiration date — and you need to do all this fairly quickly. You’re not really timed, but the more you process the more you get paid. This just gets so fun and addictive because of all the hands-on stuff you get to do. Sometimes people will try to bribe you, ask you to deny or pass certain people, guards will bribe you if you detain more people. Later on, you get to even scan them for contraband and fingerprint them. There’s a lot involved, but it’s doled out slowly so you aren’t overwhelmed.
If you mess up you get penalized this goes against your 10-day inspection. You get plaques you can hang on the wall, but if you are caught with anything else on the wall you get docked pay if you are involved with the terrorist group EZIC you get fired. It’s up to you to be loyal to your country or betray them behind your back. There are 20 different endings to get for different choices. Thankfully the game saves before the start of each day so you can change your choice. Things, like accepting certain bribes and spending that money, will trigger an audit leading to an ending. You can burn the money and continue to save, but it’s all up to you. By the end of the day, you need to help your family with food, heat, and various other things using your pay. You need to be very careful and only get them what they need or you will end up with a game over for your family dying.
The constant lash and tension between countries are tense and you get the full brunt if you let known murderers in. Sometimes being the good guy will get you lots of penalties. Too many will lead to a game overcome inspection every 10 days. The game is just so much fun with a lot of replay value and there’s a lot of content here. I honestly don’t have too much to say that’s bad except I wish the game was longer and you didn’t get all these endings and having to restart whole levels as a result.
Papers, Please is one of the most unique games ever made, period. I normally don’t care for these indie games since they are a dime a dozen, but when games like Fez, Braid, Limbo, and Papers, Please come up, they get my attention. Any gamer can play this since it really isn’t designed for a set crowd. This will be the best $10 you will spend on a game.