Forbes named this blocky 8-bit wonder the “Top Indie Game of 2013”, and it certainly lives up to its title. When first pitched, Papers, Please sounded no more interesting than a ‘nine to five’ filing job, but this seemingly repetitive strategy game quickly engages players in its ominously complex plotline. From behind the grate of a Border Control booth, you check the passports and documents of all those entering your fake government that closely resembles communist Russia. Along with this strict regime come complications in your job – vaccination certificates, work permits, asylum permits, identity cards, diplomatic papers – as well as the standard passport. However, for every controlling dictatorship, there is of course an underground rebellion…
This game not only incorporates strategy and observational skills, but it relies on your ability to work quickly and efficiently, and even brings into play your own moral judgements. With recurring characters, background stories, violence and human relationships, Papers, Please is everything you could want from a game that can be completed in less than four hours. The most accurate review from a gamer was simply: “It’s not your everyday game. It’s different.” – and that summarises this masterpiece perfectly.
Words by Charlie Ginger Jones