Papers, Please ReviewPC
key review info
- Game: Papers, Please
- Platform: PC
- Gamepad support: No
- Reviewed on:
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Papers, Please is at once a comedy, a tragedy and a solid exploration of how humanity fares when freedom is taken away and an entire life is built around a simple, repetitive act that has consequences for other beings.
The core idea of the game is simple: the player is a citizen of a communist country called Arstotzka (despite its difficulty, players will get to recognize the name) which is opening its borders and he has been selected to be the one who checks documents and decides who does and who does not enter the country.
The rules for the control process change from day to day and the player always has access to the rules and to an increasingly complex set of tools to verify information and make sure that he only allows in those people who have proper papers.
Thoroughness is important to make sure that no detail is out of place, but at the same time, players of Papers, Please will have to move quickly because the number of people they check determines their payment at the end of the day.
Money is required to pay for rent, food and heating for quite a numerous family and the game can become quite bleak as gamers are required to abandon one item or another just to make it from one day to another.
Trying to clear or deny as many persons as possible in one day quickly leads to failure because any mistakes are quickly penalized by an all-knowing more powerful authority that does not seem interested in actually getting involved in the process itself.
As the game progresses, more surprises are revealed and the gameplay evolves in unpredictable ways, with some events that are better experienced than read as part of a review.
The game also offers no less than 20 endings to explore and given the difficulty of the game as the days go by, it will probably take even dedicated gamers quite a few playing days to get most of them.
And it all makes a player think about his own choices in life, the pressure he needs to deal with and how far he would be ready to go in order to keep his family safe, while also making sure that he does not lose his humanity.
Papers, Please is clearly an indie game, but the limited resources that Lucas Pope used to make the title manage to create a unique look, clearly inspired by the monotony that’s one of the core traits of any sort of communist or tyrannical regime.
The details on the faces of those who seek to cross the border are less important than the small print on the various documents they are using to try and justify entry, which clearly shows how much Arstotzka is concerned with the individuals that are being evaluated.
The music is equally cold at times and disconcerting and really emphasizes the bleak conditions that the player has to toil under.
Papers, Please is a good game both when it comes to the actual features and to the message it is trying to send.
Every passport and document checkup is tense and even after hours of playtime, I still forget some detail or miss a discrepancy, which results in a fine, which then leads to prison for me and deportation for my family.
This is a hard game despite its simple mechanics and getting through a single day without a mistake is cause for celebrations and high fives.
Papers, Please also forces any player with some history knowledge to evaluate his actions inside the game and wonder how he might have acted in the real world if faced with similar situations and pressures.