Papers, please - Análisis

Author: Jaume Esteve
Date: 2021-02-01 19:22:11
Papers, Please is a game that changes as you play it. At one point you are faced with a simulation of that undaunted official whose heart softens for one second and the next you find yourself looking for hidden clues, as if it were a puzzle game.

But ultimately, in Papers, Please you are nothing more than an immigration official who has to be aware of the fine line that separates the imaginary states of Arstotzka and Kolechia . A single mistake, and a flood of suicide bombers, smugglers and scum, or so the propagand says, will sneak into your country. Ask for the passport when the next citizen arrives. Pay no attention to the bleak landscape around you. And above all, leave your life for Arstotzka .

But Papers, Please is much more than finding errors in the documents that are presented to you, although its simple mechanics can be terribly rewarding . There is a feeling of actually touching those documents. Of having in your hands the hopes of finding a new job, a new home or simply moving to a new country. Our work is overwhelming because it is what it is: the game presents it to us with a minimal color palette and on a screen where we have no options to move. Perhaps the most interesting moment is to hear the stamp's thump when we decide whether to allow or deny the entry visa to our country. Your cabin is your little kingdom, the place where you can punish those who try to laugh at Arstotzka or show some administrative compassion if you feel like it.

But it's the little details that enrich the experience . Lack of space causes documents to pile up and you are not able to see key information to be able to decipher if you are facing a terrorist or an honest citizen. This mechanic , which could be a pain in the neck, gains weight when you realize that you are looking for those hidden bits of information because the game itself makes it difficult, not because it is the sole purpose of the game. Little by little, you will realize that checking names, places of birth and other data is a fact that you have internalized as if you were in that cabin yourself.

Spoilers aside, the game offers more than just intense paperwork for the month of the game. You have to make moral decisions, such as separating a couple because their roles do not match, or playing the handsome gentleman if you have to face a pimp who assures that a girl who has passed before him has cheated on him right on the same border.

It may seem very easy to make the morally correct decisions, but every mistake means that we will have less money for food, heat or medicine for our family . And family comes first. But it doesn't end here, as the game gets interesting as threats, bribery attempts, corruption, and the simple fact of being able to use your little power to change the course of destiny come into play.

We are not facing an extremely deep plot, but it has enough consistency to pack a game that could have been a temporary and light fun . The worst, its mechanics make many days repetitive like themselves, although, in part, that is one of the objectives of the title. Perhaps it could have been arranged with a shorter story , with greater variety and different conflicts of interest, it could have lightened the product at times. But the truth is that the campaign, no matter how tired it may be, has the exact duration to ensure that we stay hooked and do not abandon the game. Another thing is to go back in search of the different alternative endings .

Once the story is finished there is an infinite mode available to the player, something less fun since there is no story involved and we only have to put stamps one after another. The humanism of the main campaign is lost where we see people and their problems and in this facet what we have ahead is a game with tests, one after another. It is an interesting bonus but little else.

Papers, Please is a fantastic idea and exemplary executed. Stamping passports may be one of the most boring jobs in the world, but their packaging says so much more. Its story, set in the Cold War , has enough personality to turn a story as gray as this into an interesting game. Even after the 100th unsuccessful attempt to smuggle goods into Arstotzka . It may not be a fun game, especially when you see your family suffer, but it has appeal. And few games have managed to convey that feeling of being locked in a cabin, losing your humanity seal by seal. This cabin perfectly represents the range of grays that the game proposes, both visually and morally. If only there was one achievement that jumped that first time you refused a visa for no apparent reason while telling yourself that you are just following orders ...

Adapted by Jaume Esteve , Indie editor at IGN Spain.