Oh yes, it is that magical time of year again. The time when we all flock to our computers and allow our PC Gaming Master Race Lord Gaben graciously relieve of us the burden of the money in our wallets. The Steam Summer Sale is in full swing as games are being slashed to hopelessly alarming prices, attempting to extract twice the money from us while our collections continue to grow and grow. I’m not normally one to jump onto the Steam Summer Sale and lose my entire savings to our high lord Gaben. But that isn’t to say I do not pick up some good deals. I usually sit over the keyboard like some kind of deranged vulture, hoping and praying that the games I want drop into the 75%-90% off category. One such game that I had my eye on for a while managed to do just that and thanks to some spare money in my Steam Wallet, I was able to scoop up Papers, Please for a mere $2. One hell of a bargain, in this critics opinion. Created by one man developer and former Naughty Dog employee Lucas Pope, Papers, Please takes the popular indie route in video gaming these days by creating a simplistic game with a deep and immersive story line.
As the protagonist, you take on the duty of being the newly appointed immigration inspector for the newly opened borders of the completely not Soviet Union socialist state of Arstotzka. The job is simple enough, inspect the people coming through your check point, approve the ones who have the right papers and credentials to enter Arstrotzka and deny the ones that do not… Or so it would seem. As the protagonist, you quickly learn that it isn’t at all that easy. You will have to have an intense eye for detail as every discrepancy that you let pass will count against you through citations, add on to the fact that you have terrorist organizations bombarding the country and people attempting to bribe you to either detain people or look the other way to let them into the country or keep people out. The job becomes walking a fine line between you and your families security while constantly fighting with your own morality.
Talk about a game that will drag you into the world. I never thought I would find the concept of being an immigrant inspection worker for a socialist regime to be a fun concept for a video game, but damn it is. You will feel the pressure from the beginning of the game to excel at your job and ensure that you are perfect in every way possible. You feel the horrible conditions as you have to take care of your family at home, debate on whether to go without heat or food for that day, and debate on whether or not to take bribes from people in order to keep your family and yourself in good health while ruining others lives. It is a very powerful game and can conjure up a lot of emotion from very little.
It Does Not Hold Your Hand
This game does not lead you from point A to point B, it is difficult and it will challenge you as you go day by day as an immigrant inspector. You are being timed, the more people you allow through and deny, the more money you get to keep your family fed and warm. But each and every mistake you make will count against you and do not think for one minute that people are not keeping score. Each day you are allowed two mistakes before being charged credits but this is a deception. If your citations continue to build you can face being fired or even killed for your insolence. The game gives you the feeling of the metaphorical and possibly literal gun being pointed to your head telling you as long as you do a good job, you have nothing to fear… But God have mercy on your soul if you fuck up.
It is a criticism that has been made, even by me in the past but it should be reiterated again. While I was browsing some of the sales on Steam, I saw several Triple A titles for severely reduced prices, games like Skyrim dropping into the single digits and yet out of these Triple A titles that were hovering around $5-10 in price, I found myself gravitating straight to the tiny little one developer game. Of course, no knock to Skyrim which is a game I own and play constantly. But it does say something that a lot of people are now skipping over these big budget games in favor of the tiny little $10 Indy game and have the same fulfilling levels of fun. If anything this becomes a shining ray of light in what looks to be a dark future for video games.
The Game Becomes (And Essentially Is) Tedious Busy Work
As much as I can praise this game for being a full immersion experience, that isn’t always a great thing considering the fact that you are taking over the roles as a paper pushing immigrant inspector. You get wrapped up in some political espionage and get the occasional terrorist attack, but at the end of the day you are still just a paper pusher, ushering people in, detaining, or denying people access to the country. You are a middle man and have a somewhat boring job when shit isn’t going down. Similar to a lot of the independent titles I have seen as of late, it is a fun game and a great concept. But it still isn’t one that you can become lost in for hours on end when you reach the point that you have been playing for 90 minutes and just want to get through the level so you can go do something semi productive with your life.
The indie gaming scene is quickly becoming a welcome alternative to the convoluted and predictable Triple A games to be released as the years of pressed on. It is here that we find the true future of gaming in small, fun, and immersive stories that are low on graphics but high on content and Papers, Please is one of the front-runners of this style of game. It is a unique experience and a fantastic concept. It can drag in certain areas, but that is by no means a deterrent to what is a great game for a great value.
Final Score 4/5
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more. It is good to be finally moved in and back onto my regular schedule. Time for a summer of gaming, movies, and much more!