Papers, Please has you controlling the Arstotzka's immigration policies and borders. Thank god I don't do this for a job

User Rating: 6.5 | Papers, Please PC
The game starts off with your character winning the lottery. Well, less a lottery, more, "Forcing you into a new job". You're thrown in the deep end with this one, being given only a thick rulebook for you to peruse at your own leisure and a green and red stamp. I mean, the idea of the game could not be simpler. You say no to the illegal immigrants and you say yes to all the others. This obviously quickly gets out of hand as the Arstotzka politicians seems to be on pretty shaky grounds with just about everyone else and you're trying to squeeze as many legit citizens out before the end of the day. There are numerous terrorist attacks to contend with, the smuggling of contraband and little hints and nudges that make you double take on that document you just gladly stamped as "Approved". Surprisingly, this vague idea for a game, actually turns out to be a ton of fun, trying to work out why certain people aren't allowed in really keeps you on your toes.

The games music and melancholy color scheme sits amazingly well between patriotic and slightly depressing, the game really does a wonder at pulling you into the immigration officer's seat and makes you feel like you have a duty to do. Of course the same dreary setting, the droning music and the less than ostentatious graphics does make you feel a little trapped. Maybe a career change is in order? Altogether the little bundle of joy that is Papers, Please's aesthetics are on the right page. I mean, the game isn't meant to be about bunny rabbits and rainbows and ponies, it's about a soviet country on a reform and dividing itself into a new country. The actual graphics are just about as early 90's as you can get, some of the character's look like they've been ripped out of Street Fighter or Gabriel Knight. The games UI is set out so well and so simply. The overhead view of your office is laid horizontally at the top of the screen, accompanied by the looming, gigantic queue, waiting to be served. In the bottom left is your characters immediate view with the time, the daily bulletin and the rulebook. The immigrant stands opposite you, they hand the documents over to you, which you drag to the right. Now the right hand part of the screen is where you will do all your investigation. You have the Approved and Denied stamps in big, block letters and you can freely drag about any documents that you have at your desk to scrutinize and finally give the verdict, and pass it back to the immigrant.
Utilizing the Discrepancy tool, you can click two or more things on the page that seem a bit suspicious, right down to the tiny details like a person height, etc. After you find the discrepancy you can interrogate them and then either let them in or kick them out the other way.

Papers, Please has this distinct ability to actually make you feel bad for some things, even though the character's faces themselves have no expression, the way they talk and for example, beg you to let their wife in, really does make you squirm. You see, as a common working man, you're trying to support your family, and after three penalties of allowing someone in you shouldn't have, or refusing someone that should, you start taking pay cuts. So when you're stood there thinking "Should I let this guy and wife in, that shouldn't be allowed", you're also thinking "Well how am I gunna survive if I take another pay cut." This game is harsh, actually, it's really harsh. I just finished an hour or so game session and now I feel like a bad person. It probably didn't help that I sucked at it, every little detail needs to be taken into account, mind you. You can't just do a quick scan, when they're throwing 4 different documents at you, all needing a thorough check-over.

The game doesn't really have any faults that are evident, the game runs soundly, is fun and has a macabre kind of humor attached to it. I mean there are slight annoyances with the art style of the game, I have made errors on whether it's a male or a female simply because, that was one manly looking lady, but it's not something game breaking or a sulkable offence, more of a arm throw and a "Oh come on". The obvious answer is that it could get monotonous, you can only find discrepancies, refuse bribes and call out contraband for so long before thinking to yourself, "Okay, I'm done with this now". So, maybe lifetime for this game is a biggie, it might be a case of how long the novelty wears on for, before this game is put down and probably never picked back up again. Overall though the game is entertaining enough and has enough quirks to keep me playing for a little while.

The game is actually in Beta at the moment so please don't take everything I stated here as a definite. There's a good possibility that any or all of this review might change when the game is actually released.