I’ll have to admit, when I first heard about this one it sounded like the most boring concept for a game. However, once it started to make some noise around the interwebs I decided to see what all the fuss was about.
Papers, Please is an indie gem by Lucas Pope, brought to the forefront by Steam Greenlight. You play a border checkpoint inspector in the decidedly Russian-themed, fictional dystopian country of Arstotzka. Your job is to inspect the credentials of various people attempting to enter the country, and approve or deny entry based on provided criteria.
It starts out pretty simple, but as you progress the criteria for entry changes (more/less documentation, certain people require certain documents, etc.), and you have to deal with counterfeits, criminals and terrorists. You’ll also become embroiled in intrigue - maybe you’ll be bribed to look the other way, maybe a crooked border guard will cut a deal with you, or maybe you’ll become wrapped up in a terrorist plot. You’ll have to keep your family alive and healthy as well, which can be a difficult task at times considering the low amount of pay you receive. There’s a lot going on, and you can waste a few hours without realizing it (just try to refrain from working after 6…you don’t get paid for it).
The graphics are definitely not next-gen (or even last-gen), but they serve their purpose well in setting the dystopian mood of the game. The visuals also make me nostalgic for Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and other games of that era. I’m heavily reminded (in graphics and theme, if not necessarily play style) of Floor 13. The sound and music are nothing worthy of a Grammy, but they too fit the bill of setting the mood and accomplishing exactly what they need to.
The game is definitely fun and addictive. If you like puzzle-type games or just the Orwellian dystopia setting, check this one out. The creator has a demo available, and you can pick up the full meal deal on Steam for around $10.