Papers, Please – Immigration Officer Simulation

One of those days I will wake up and realise that there was an Indie game developed for every single job imaginable. This time around I would like to bring forth a game in which you are an Immigration Officer, of a Communist country called Arstotzka. Your job is to regulate who enters or does not enter, your wonderful country. Of course, this is more complicated than it sounds. People will attempt to enter through the use of forged documents. As time progresses you will be given more tools to regulate people entering the country. At first you will only have to examine their passports for correct information, then you will have to collect tickets, verify documents and you will even have an opportunity to catch terrorists, smugglers and criminals (if you read the news and pay careful attention to detail). The best part? It’s still in Beta, so we can expect much, much more from this title.

Papers, Please

An example of what you will be doing in the game. Due to a recent terrorist attack I have to “Scan” all the people from the nation of Kolechia. You can see her body scan hidden behind the rule book, entry permit on the left and passport on the right.

Papers, Please – A bit like Cart Life

What caught me about Papers, Please is how you have a “Family” life outside of your work. You have to earn enough money in order to keep your family fed and warm. In order to earn this money you have to service as many people as possible, performing as little faults as possible. Each day you can perform two mistakes. After that you will have to pay fines, which could lead to your downfall. The game does get steadily harder and you will have to pay careful attention to detail at times. Sometimes the game will play on your emotions and force you to take decisions with individuals who just want to change their lives or need help. I will not spoil it for you but this makes the game feel “real”. It’s not just sorting through an endless file of poor forgeries, sometimes there is a story behind them.

During the game there are a number of key events that enforce new changes in your Protocol or rules. Among the two major ones are Terrorist attacks and job seeking immigrants, due to them you will have more work on your hands.

In many ways Papers, Please reminded me of Cart Life. You were literally given the job through a lottery so you have no clue how it works. It’s a first hand experience and you either cope or drown. Of course, Cart Life is more complex, because you have a whole city to explore and there will be much more “Background” work, aside from selling your products. Still, the similarities include the monotony of the everyday life, while being slowly reeled into something resembling a story or multiple short tales.

The simple graphics and electronic music both set a great mood, and it feels somewhat realistic. The raspy noise coming from the megaphone as you call the next person in line, the endless row of grey people, huddled together and moving forward a few steps at a time as you process immigrants. Those who had to ever endure half an hour of standing in a passport line can feel the “tip” of what waiting an entire day just to get through the border has to be like, in the freezing cold.

While I cannot explain all of the game’s mechanics I would recommend checking out Nerd3’s “Impressions” video, where he deals, mildly efficiently, with the first few days of the game. He also explains the key mechanic of pointing out errors in people’s documents and passports. Sometimes only because a person did not show their passport does not mean they forgot it. Other times you will need a hawk eye and quick hand to identify errors in naming, wrong city names, etc.

If this already caught your attention check out Lucas Pope’s game collection and download the free Beta (yes, in case you are wondering, Lucas Pope is the game’s developer). If I understood the official site correctly the game will cost 10 USD once it is fully released.

Enjoy, and have fun! Unless you plan on being a Border Officer I doubt you will ever have the opportunity to check so many passports… Joy…

Alex “WriterX” Bielski

About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

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