Designer – Lucas Pope
PEGI – 16
Described by its creator Lucas Pope as a dystopian document thriller, Papers Please puts players in a most unlikely situation for a video game; as an agent of a passport office in a dystopian society. It’s one of these ideas for a video game that I take a personal interest in; those that may sound ridiculous and tedious on paper, but once put on a computer can make for something particularly special.
Graphics – 7/10
Though the visuals may not be cutting edge, it’s in their conceptual design where it truly stands out from a ton of different video games in general; let alone indie games. The color palette of the setting is very morbid and colorless, which to me, adds to the overall atmosphere and despair associated with an unfair society that the game is trying to perpetuate. It looks like something straight out of a newspaper, which also emphasizes its political aspect.
Gameplay – 8/10
The objective of Papers Please is to process as many people into the country of Arstotzka as possible before the time runs out. People’s passports and other documentation must be checked to ensure it is valid and up to date. Any discrepancies can be inspected to ensure that the citizen in question is clear to enter the country, and if their discrepancy cannot be cleared up, they can then either be denied entry, or even detained, depending on whether they may be on a wanted criminals list, or in possession of weapons or contraband. For a concept based on what would in real life likely be an extremely repetitive job, it’s surprising how much suspense can be felt whilst playing.
Controls – 10/10
Since this is essentially a simulator game, the control scheme should never have come into question, since there have been countless games like it released beforehand; and so it doesn’t. The game depends solely on the pressing of icons using a mouse, very much like on a PC itself, so consequently, there are absolutely no issues with the game’s controls.
Originality – 7/10
Papers Please deserves acclaim for being an independently developed video game, and yet, being able to stand out to the extent that it does among every other simulator game ever developed by some of the most familiar developers in gaming. People may have thought that Goat Simulator was unique, but Papers, Please offers players much more entertainment in a much more unlikely scenario.
In summation, Papers Please is one of the best independently developed games I’ve found on Steam so far, and a game I would highly recommend. It may look morbid and monotonous at first glance, but beneath the surface lies an extremely entertaining game.