Bureaucratic job simulator

User Rating: 8 | Papers, Please PC

Indie games often come up with interesting ideas, and sometimes the fact that it is different attracts a lot of attention and praise. Then, when you play it, you wonder what the fuss is about. A game where you take the job at border control sure sounds rubbish, but to my surprise, this game is actually entertaining and surprisingly addictive. So I'll jump on board the band-wagon and praise the game too.

In the top half of the screen, you see the queue of people and your general surroundings; guards are patrolling, cars are passing by. The bottom part of the screen is your desk. To the left, you have the counter where people will hand their documents and your reference guides are stored. On the right hand side is your desk, where you can place any document to analyse it.

At the start of each day, you are given instructions to what the rules are for the day. You must make sure people have the correct documents, are valid, and adhere to any restriction imposed. You must then stamp their passport with the Approval or Denied stamp.

Initially, the rules are as simple as making sure the Issuing City on the passport matches the valid list in your reference guide. Later on you are checking everything on the passport. Does their picture match? Is the passport in date? Are they the correct gender? As you progress, people are required to have more documentation, so you must check the validity of this document and cross-reference to the passport for any other inconsistencies. Citizens of Arstotzka will be required to have different documentation to immigrants from any other country. Citizens produce an ID card which shows their height and weight. Finding a difference in weight can mean the citizen is attempting to smuggle contraband, so must be scanned.

If you find something that is suspect, you click the Inspection Mode button and click the two conflicting pieces of information. Sometimes the person may give you the missing document, or try and protest their innocence. If it is as simple as the passport expiring, you will just give them the Denied stamp and move on. If its more serious, then you will click the Detain button for the guards to come grab them.

You need to make your decision fairly promptly because the day is timed, and the more you process, the more you get paid. However, if you incorrectly allow people in, you are warned, or fined when making several mistakes.

At the end of each day, you choose what to spend your money on. You need to pay your rent, and the rest of the money goes on food, heat, or medicine to keep your family healthy. If all your family dies, then it is game-over. Your family's well-being may determine the end sequence that you get.

There are 20 different endings to find which depends on key events throughout the story. The game saves before the start of each day so you can revisit a day and change your choice.

It feels a lot like work and shouldn't be fun, but somehow is. Sometimes you do feel guilty denying people, especially when they are telling you their situation. It's up to you whether to accept someone's bribe (or just take it but deny them anyway!), or detain them.

It may be a glorified spot-the-difference game, but it's made in such an interesting and engaging way, you just can't help but love it.