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Indie Spotlight: Papers, Please

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Greetings comrade!

Congratulations, you have been selected by the Ministry of Labour’s lottery to work at the great Arstotzkan border. You will investigate entrants to our glorious nation, accept patriotic citizens and deny imperialist foreign dogs.

Work hard and diligently and you will bring pride and money to your family. Wield your official stamps wisely comrade, steel your resolve against sob stories and smooth talkers who wish to subvert justice, do not give in to temptation in these moral quandaries!

Be careful, the choices you make will have unforeseeable ramifications, and you may be called on to defend the border in more direct methods. Choose to detain fraudulent or suspicious individuals who might harm our Motherland, the Ministry of Admissions will be watching.

When our neighbouring countries are undergoing turmoil, we must be strong and vigilant. The safety of the nation is in your hands. Glory to Arstotska.

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Papers, Please is an investigative thriller set at fictional 1980’s authoritarian nation Arstotzka’s border, which the player is asked to maintain. Potential entrants will walk through the oppressive concrete border station and present their travel documents, and the player has to judge whether they are worthy of entrance or not.

Apart from the challenge of rooting out fraudulent individuals and denying or detaining them, entrants will use every trick going to try and get through, and the player will have to resist heart wrenching sob stories and tempting bribes, as well as deal with far more grave or dangerous situations.

Papers, Please is a point and click title where the player’s decisions have complicated and severe ramifications for Arstotzka and its inhabitants, offering many endings and play styles. Want to act as a ruthless patriotic professional, or as a corrupt selfish official, or a sensitive forgiving friend of the people?

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All three and more play styles present their own challenges.

Despite the drudging inspections and minimalist graphics, the charmingly evocative music and genuine dialogue do well to set a hauntingly believable scene. The tone suggests the conditions of communist nations in the 70’s and 80’s, leading to an immersive experience where the player may indeed find themselves caring more about the fates of the people’s lives under their jurisdiction.

Not bad for a game made almost entirely by one guy.

 

Jack McNougher

 

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