Indie game developer Lucas Pope is a sucker for dystopian themes. This can clearly be found in the various games listed on his website from The Republica Times, 6 Degrees of Sabotage to the game this article is about, Papers, Please.
The game is quoted as a W.I.P. ( Work in Progress ) and the synopsis of this simple, yet fun thinking game is as follows:
The communist state of Arstotzka has just ended a 6-year war with neighboring Kolechia and reclaimed its rightful half of the border town, Grestin.
Your job as an immigration inspector is to control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Among the throngs of immigrants and visitors looking for work are hidden smugglers, spies, and terrorists. Using only the documents provided by travelers and MoA’s primitive computer dispatch system you must decide who can enter Arstotzka and who will be turned away or arrested.
The game starts off with a minimalistic pixel version of a clerks counter on the left with your main playable area on the right. Players will find a bell, blinking on the counter. To start playing, you hit the bell and an applicant will approach the window.
Once the applicant has approached the window, they will present the player with what documents they have. Your job as the clerk is to figure out, using the documents in your arsenal, if they are telling the truth or lying.
Dragging the book located on the heads up display off to the right will reveal that this book is the “Ministry of Admission Rules & Regulations”. Using this book, players can verify the information on the documents presented to the player are correct.
For the passport, the player would find the matching passport in their Ministry of Admission book and double check the information is correct. For the entry permit, you’ll have to check the seal and cross check information from the passport.
Alternatively you may use the red button on the bottom right of your screen to select two separate elements to see if there is a correct correlation or not. If a descrepency is detected, the game will then allow the player to decline the applicants access.
It seems as if the applicants and their data may all be procedurally generated, which is awesome if that’s the case. Otherwise, the game does a great job in presenting the player with a variety of situations to solve.
Papers, Please is currently in Alpha status at the time of this writing. The game can be downloaded direct from dukope.com and is playable for PC, Mac, and web browser. You can follow Lucas Pope on twitter (@dukope).
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