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Indie Game Review: Papers, Please (PC)

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Papers Please


As the independent gaming scene continues to rise in popularity and the market becomes more and more saturated, it is becoming harder and harder for games to stand out. Some games, however, are managing to bring something fun and unique to the table and do just that. One such example is Lucas Pope’s Papers, Please for the PC, Mac, and Linux.
Papers, Please has the player assuming the role of an immigration checkpoint inspector on the border of the fictional Arstotzka. The main campaign takes the player through a month in the life of the inspector. Each day, the player is presented with the rules for the day and then must check each hopeful border crosser’s documentation very carefully for discrepancies. Think along the lines of the Phoenix Wright series where the player must have a keen eye for detail and be able to spot the most subtle discrepancy such as a slight misspelling of a city name.
Some folks will plead their case to you and leave you with a moral choice to make. Do you let someone in who does not have their paperwork in order at your own detriment or do you deny them knowing they will be killed when they return to their country? That is but one example of the things a player may be faced with. Another thing the player encounters is the terrorist group known as Ezic. They will frequent the checkpoint trying to get you to help them in their plans leaving another choice to be made.
All of these choices are not in vain. The game has 20 different endings that can be unlocked based on your choices. This adds immense replay value. That is good news, because this game is highly addictive. Each day of your career last but a few short minutes and leaves you eager to get back out there and prove you metal the next day. You earn money for each person processed that day and are financially penalized for multiple mistakes of missing forgeries, discrepancies, and the like. That said, the game is kind enough to give you a couple of mulligans before it attacks your wallet. After each day, you are given your wages, in addition to any bribes you took or bonuses you may have earned, less penalties. This will bring you to a management screen where you must pay for rent, heat, and food for your family. If you are unable to care for them, some of your family may die.
Graphically, this game adopts a retro styling that would be akin to early NES or even later games of the Commodore 64 era. This adds an incredible amount of charm to the game, which is, itself set at the end of 1982. Charm is a word that continues to come to mind in describing this game. Despite the setting of a post war communist border, the game manages to keep the player interested and smiling for hours at a time. In a time where it is indeed difficult to stand out in the indie gaming scene, Papers, Please manages to not just stand out, but stand above most of its competition. It is a game definitely worth your time.

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