A video game doesn’t have to have gorgeous eye-catching visuals to be interesting. It just has to be engaging and fun! It’s nice when all of those things come together, but I’d prefer engaging and fun to gorgeous and boring. And moments of intense excitement separated by super boring segments of riding a horse across the countryside falls into the latter category (sorry, Assassin’s Creed and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess). Sometimes, games that sound like they would be super-boring and totally ugly are not. I mean, how fun does checking for paperwork discrepancies as a border official in a fictional former Soviet Republic sound?
Papers, Please might not be pretty, and definitely doesn’t sound exciting, but fifteen minutes in, when your heart rate is accelerating because you need to get through two more people in line to make sure you can feed your family, you’ll change your mind.
As the Inspector, you have to double check passports to see if they are genuine, make sure that foreigners have the correct documents in order to enter the country, verify that diplomats are who they really say they are, accept those seeking asylum (as long as their paperwork is correct), and detain smugglers. The rules for entrance change almost daily, not to mention the added duties of watching for criminals and preventing terrorist attacks!
There are twenty different possible endings to this fast fact checking game, and your ending depends on the choices you make. Do you strictly adhere to the rules, refusing to take bribes? Do you unite the lovers? Do you aid the secret society? Do you help a heartbroken father find his own justice in revenge? The decision to allow someone into the country even when it validates the rules has consequences: you are fined, and these fines cut into your earnings, which could have serious repercussions on your family’s well being. They could be cold, go hungry, get sick (requiring expensive medicine), or vanish from existence.
If I haven’t convinced you to try this awesome game yet, then I guess you’re going to have to ask someone else, or just take my word for it; I’ve got to get back to playing it.
Glory to Arstotzka!