Released in 2013 by Lucas Pope, Papers, Please at first glance may not appear appealing to the average gamer, but initial impressions may be deceiving. In Papers, Please, your character lives in a fictional post-Soviet Eastern European nation who has the privilege of staffing a border checkpoint in a contested border town that your nation has recently come to peace with. Gameplay consists of you staffing your checkpoint and assessing the paperwork of people crossing the border and deciding who may or may not cross. Players must scan documents for errors and are penalized financially for errors in their assessments, affecting income that goes towards supporting the player’s family and their living costs. As the game progresses, more restrictions and checks on documents are introduced, and the player is introduced to various characters passing through the checkpoint that can involve the player in various plots, such as joining the resistance or fleeing the country.
While simple mechanically, the Papers, Please manages to turn what is generally a monotonous activity into a fun and compact gaming experience. The game’s greatest success though comes in making the player emphasize with and better the hardships of life in a unstable, wartorn, poor country. For example, one scenario the game presents you with is a character attempting to seek asylum in your country while under threat of death in his homeland, but he lacks the proper paperwork. Do you do the morally right thing to let him into your country and cut into how much money you will have to feed your family and keep your home warm? Or do you turn him away, dooming him but fulfilling the parameters of your job and not putting your own family at risk? Further dilemmas mount as terrorist attacks mount on the checkpoint, sometimes even committed by people who have no problems within their documentation, making you doubt every person who comes into your checkpoint booth. Such moral dilemmas and many others are presented and handled tactfully despite the game’s simple interface, allowing the player to not only be challenged skill-wise via the game’s mechanics, but to also be challenged in their decision-making skills. Such a unique set of challenges within the game, combined with its striking pixel art style and iconic soundtrack, help the game to set itself out from the rest of the crowd as a diamond in the rough when it comes to well-made indie games.
At the time of writing, Papers, Please has earned a very rare "Overwhelmingly Positive" rating on Steam and us available for $9.99. A fantastic game with great replay value that was always sold at below the traditional $59.99 opening price for new products, we are proud to highlight Lucas Pope's Papers, Please as a great example of digital fairness and a quality experience.