Verfasst: 27. Januar
Have you ever fancied being a border inspector? Me neither. Papers, Please grants you a chance to try it anyway.
The background is grim: you only got the job because of a lottery. Arstotzkan border is a busy place, all kinds of shady people trying to get into the country that gives out a communist vibe. You make sure their papers are in order by meticulously checking each bit of information for the smallest mistakes. You do this manually by eye. It doesn't help that each day the ministry announces new, subsequently more bizarre rules for you to follow.
At first the user interface is confusing and it takes a while to get used to and see the logic behind. All the tutorial you'll get is in the instructions you're given each day. Interestingly, this adds to the all-encompassing dystopian feel that is well delivered by the pixelated graphics and ominous music.
The story elements are brilliantly woven into the protagonist's role, served with dark humour: you often have to make moral choices by either admitting or denying desperate immigrants or whether you'll help the insurgents. You generally can't do everything because the salary comes from admitting immigrants and you are fined for mistakes.
Keeping your family alive provides the motivation to keep doing a good job. Money is always tight and you have to manage your expenses after each day. Fortunately, being a border inspector in a corrupt country, you can make additional profit by accepting bribes and striking deals with the honest people you meet in your job.
Each playthrough, one month of game time, lasts approximately 4 hours but to complete everything will require several playthroughs: there are three different "winning" endings and 20 different endings in total that depend on your choices and performance. Afterwards, there's the endless mode to pour hours into.
Striking into a niche as small as it gets, Papers, Please does a tremendous job at providing an interesting and even amusing experience as a border inspector. If you have an eye for detail and fancy scrutiny and perfection, you'll probably love this game. Otherwise you might want to check some gameplay videos first - it is a niche game after all.