Monday, May 20, 2013

Papers, Please [Beta] (PC)

Hmm, how to describe Paper's Please.  To say that it's a post cold war era simulation game where you play as an immigration official from a fictional Eastern European/ Soviet Bloc state would be a very wordy description. The "official" description from creator Lucas Pope, is that it's a "dystopian document thriller."  If those descriptions don't sell the game to you, the game trailer probably will:

There's something very odd about this game.  You sit in a booth looking over passports and travel documents while a national/foreigner stares at you, while you are deciding whether or not they can be allowed into the country.  You earn 5 credits for each person you let into the country or turn away, so one of the goals is to see as many people as possible.  If you admit someone who wasn't supposed to be or turn away someone who could've been admitted, a print out warns you not to make that mistake again.  You also do not get paid for seeing that person.  On your second or third mistake (depending on which day), you are docked 5 credits, which means that you really lose 10 credits for your mistake.

I first heard about this game a couple of weeks ago from Jerry Holkins' twitter.  I don't remember exactly what the wording was, but it somehow compelled me to play this odd bit of programming.

Playing this game as a co-op actually enhances the feeling of dread from an oppressive government and fear that you might make a mistake.  There were a number of times while playing that Conklederp was sitting next to me and I felt nervous that I wasn't moving people fast enough through my little box/world and thus not keeping it interesting enough for her to be watching and accidently let someone through whom should have been denied entry into the great country of Arstotzka.  So if you have someone to watch you play, who doesn't mind watching you play a video game, it could/will enhance the feeling not to fuck up.

There are a number of other little things that this game does that I love.  At the beginning of each day, after you read the headlines of the daily paper, you walk to work. 
It's not "go to work," but specifically "walk."  As if you're either too poor or not a high enough position in the government to be afforded a car.

Another thing is that there are events/people's stories about reuniting with a family or trying to escape from an abusive strip-club owner and while you can follow what your heart tells you is right, if it doesn't follow the law, you don't get paid, and when you don't get paid, there are real consequences

Now, this game is only in beta and only advances through the eighth day.  Currently there is nothing programmed to penalize you for the death of a family member, which kind of makes the game even more sad.  That after the death of, let's say, your son, you still have to walk to work where your meager earnings may only cover the price of rent and heat, but not food.  Life is sad.

Like I said, it's a very odd game that shouldn't be as fun and as addictive as it is to play.  Who wants to sit in a box for hours on end (minutes in game time) and go over papers hoping to not make a mistake so that you can earn enough money to only feed half of your family, not to say anything about funeral costs when/if they die?  This guy, that's who.

Glory to Arstotzka comrade.



  1. dude... Steam Greenlight is... really cool... Games. collections of games. potential games. value.

    But... I can't seem to figure out how to actually play a game on Greenlight. Go fig.

  2. Games on Greenlight aren't playable directly through Steam, that's what the voting process is for. If the game gets enough votes, it'll be available. That being said, sometimes games that are on Greenlight are available to play outside of Steam such as "Papers, Please" and "Among the Sleep."