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Papers, Please is decidedly a phrase you'll be repeating to yourself over and over once you've played this game often enough. It's an indie game made by Lucas Pope and it's all about a border checkpoint. You are a citizen of the glorious nation of Arstotzka, and you're deciding whether to let people in to the country or not. You do this by checking their passport, entry ticket, entry permit, etc. etc. - and these measures keep changing. If there's any problems, start the interrogation and check to see their stories match. If not: ENTRY DENIED!
Straight from the top, it looks and feels like an older, just-post-DOS game. The graphics reflect that (though thankfully the sound is of much better quality than 8-bit bleeps). A throwback to nostalgia, for sure, but it's led to a few issues with (say) checking people's passports against their faces. Then again, the game is set in the 1980s. And it's tough, even to start with. After playing through the first handful of days, I found it difficult to keep up. You're paid based on the amount of people you process, so alongside having to worry about letting possible terrorists into the country, you're also worrying about rent and food. Enter moral grey area debate... now there's something that could get ugly fast.
Talking of sound, that's not too shabby by comparison. It's quite clear that there's no chance in hell you'll be able to use any known language for the audio bites and get away with it, so Pope has gone instead with a bit of unintelligible garble that could be a Soviet language combined with Animalese (think Animal Crossing). The sound also doesn't shove itself up your snoot like games of the 1980s could (and indeed did). In fact, the background-music-that-is-kinda-cool-but-could-easily-get-annoying-if-looped is confined to the menu.
Essentially, that's all there is to this well-crafted game. Yes, it can get a bit tedious, but it's simple and straightforward. Plus, you'll sometimes have a good laugh at some of the tricks some people try to pull, such as forging their passport (it's clearly hand-drawn) and making it out to be issued in the republic of Cobrastan ("Cobrastan not real country.") - good start, you've got me lured, now finish the job.
Here we go again.
- Graphics: 5/10 They're very reminiscent of late 1980s games.
- Sound: 7/10 Not bad, if a bit outdated.
- Playability: 8/10 Quite straightforward to pick up, but it does take a while to master.
- Lastability: 6/10 It's got a good story, but some parts can get tedious (albeit tense).
- Plot: 9/10 If only for the moral dilemmas it constantly pushes on you.
- Overall: 35/50 = 7/10 I like it. It takes a good degree of skill to get good at, makes you question every step you take, and is a bit of fun even throughout the dystopian thriller theme.