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Papers, Please Reviewed by Joel Draper on . Papers, Please is an addictive puzzle game that also works as a strong social commentary. Although it has a few problems associated with the story, the gameplay is fast and it's unlike anything you've ever seen before. Definitely worth your time! Rating: 85%
Papers, Please
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Developed by Lucas Pope, Papers, Please is an indie game in which players takes on the role of a border guard for the communist nation of Arstotzka. It's up to the player to decide who they let into the glorious nation based on a daily set of rules provided to the player at the beginning of their working day.

The gameplay focuses on you in the role of your nation's border inspector. Your job is to stop and encounter a bunch of potential immigrants who bring government documentation in the hopes of being allowed entry. You, as the border guard, have to compare the information given against the documentation you have, as well as additional rules laid out by the government. The idea is to prevent a foreign spy, anti-government organization or a major criminal from entering your nation.

Papers, Please (PC)

In a unique twist, the story of Papers, Please is told in the form of a daily newspaper. Every day, a new major criminal escapes or some other major event occurs. This takes its toll on your job, as you are forced to deal with a brand new set of rules to reflect the world's situation. The player can highlight discrepancies and then, depending on how extreme the situation is, detain the potential immigrant or even deny them entry.

The story acts as a tutorial, gradually adding new elements to make your job harder. It starts off basic, only allowing people in from your own nation. However, before long you'll move on to processing multiple documents, making sure all seals are correct, paying attention to the photos and double checking to make sure the person present isn't a wanted criminal.

Papers, Please (PC)

We're given multiple endings, depending on your daily decisions. Who you let through, who gets denied, whether you accept a bribe, and other choices ultimately impact the story's outcome.

On top of the single-player story mode, Papers, Please also offers an endless mode with a few variations. The first variation is the timed mode, which has you going for a high score over the course of ten minutes. But beware; you'll take a 30 second penalty for anyone who is wrongly processed.

Perfection mode ditches the timer, instead opting for an endless parade of people to process. The game goes on continuously until a person is wrongly processed, which results in immediate termination.

Papers, Please (PC)

The final variation is an endurance mode, in which the player continuously plays until they achieve a score of zero or less. This, as well as the other two endless mode variations, will only become available after the player has completed the story with their job intact.

Although the game is incredibly fun, I do have some issues with the story mode. Towards the the end of the game, in a sheer panic of trying to process as many people as possible in as short a period of time as I could, I kept making costly mistakes. These then lead to citations, which turns into fines. Thanks to crushing debt, I ended up having to downgrade my house just to end the game.

On top of that, I got to day 31 and "completed" the game. Seeing as this is the end of the playable days, I thought I had completed the game and would unlock endless mode. Sadly, this was not the case.

Papers, Please (PC)

Apparently at some point (I don't know when) I helped an organization that wanted to dethrone the Arstozkan Government. However, as the game does not tell me when this happened, I'm forced to go back and replay the whole game from Day 11. This leads to a disappointing and frustrating finale, since it feels like all that work was for nothing.

I really enjoyed Papers, Please. I liked that the learning curve was not too steep and that the game has a story that justifies the increase in difficulty. Unfortunately, the game does suffer from a number of frustrating bits in the story mode. It's not perfect, but Papers, Please is ridiculously fun.
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