Papers, Please

Release Date: August 8, 2013

Developer: Lucas Pope

Examine documents as an immigration officer to keep Arstotzka safe.



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Papers, Please is a single-player “Dystopian Document Thriller” in which the player steps into the role of an immigration inspector in the fictional country of Arstotzka in the year 1982. As the player stands on the threshold between two different countries, a unique perspective of immigration and border security springs out of the mundane task of inspecting papers. On a second layer, the player must simultaneously provide for his/her family using the salary earned from the job, which pays based on how many people have been processed through in a day. Balancing border security with the needs of the family is uniquely human, creating a juxtaposition that is new and interesting.

Using only a mouse, players examine sets of papers presented by immigrants in search of discrepancies between the documents and the immigration rules set out by the Arstotzkan government. Depending on their country of origin and reasons for entering, immigrants may require different sets of papers, including entry tickets, government IDs, passports, and entry visas, each with its own set of seals and sets of information to identify. Once the player has finished examining a person’s papers, he/she drags the papers over to one of two large stamps – admit or deny – and stamps the verdict of the examination onto the person’s passport before handing it back across the counter.

Papers, Please asserts the potential of games to uncover new experiences and types of play. It was part of the Games for Change 2013 Festival Babycastles Hall of Fame.

Polygon, Kotaku, Rock Paper Shotgun, ABC News, The Verge, Games for Change 2013 Festival Babycastles Hall of Fame


Games for Change Festival 2014 (Winner, Most Innovative & Best Gameplay)




  1. 8
    Total Game Reviews: 1

    As you mite expet ther is a lot of repetatave gameplay.
    But look past that to be bribed (money,items) to gain acess to Arstotzka, fighting terist attacks and keeping your famaly healthy.

  2. 9
    Total Game Reviews: 3

    this game is great, i love it! it is really hard tho, and i don understand how to do some of the bits with the cut out holes. and then i get thrown in jail. which is annoying. but still a great game.

  3. 9
    Total Game Reviews: 1

    If you like games that works on real politics and reading local news that is going on, then this game might be good for you.
    Papers please is a game where you’re playing as a poor man who has a family and tries to make a living to get money for his family.
    This game has many endings, but it takes a while to get through the gameplay. The gameplay sometimes changes like if you choose a bad path then the gameplay will make you have a bad ending.
    There are modes in the game. There are endless mode and story mode. Story is the one with many endings to the game. Endless mode is the one where you check papers forever in till you made many mistakes.
    The graphics are good only if, you like pixel games. The controls are easy if you know what to do. The hard is that you need to be really organized.
    Overall, this game is really good if you have free time. In Steam it will cost $10, for me it’s too much spend that much money on a small game. But that’s my opinion.

  4. 8
    Total Game Reviews: 2

    This game was incredibly interesting, but a little difficult to understand how to get started.

  5. 9
    Andrew Scariati
    Total Game Reviews: 8

    First and foremost, this game is very challenging. Your job as a border guard tasks you to decide who can enter Arstotzka and who is turned away.

    The game starts you off in a tutorial phase, which allows you to become familiar with examining people’s passports to identify fakes, inconsistencies, country of origin, destination, etc. All of these factors will play into your decision making as your boss gives you a guideline to follow that will help you decide who to allow into the country.

    The gameplay is made even more interesting at the end of each ‘day’, when you will have to decide how to allocate your income (based on your performance) to your family. Improperly allocating money can lead to your family becoming sick or dying.

    The complexity of the tasks combined with the simplicity of the gameplay (viewing/stamping passports) helps contribute to its initial appeal.

    In addition to that factor, the story gives you a good mix of political atmosphere, random events (terrorist attacks, etc.), and continuity from day to day. While these events are of course, fictional, they give interesting insight into how real events may impact how a country reacts to incoming immigrants during uncertain political climates.

    The game makes this important as it rewards/punishes you based on the quality of your work and the way you respond to the world around you. This has an important impact on the way you progress and eventually complete the game.

    While all of these factors make this game great, the core mechanic – checking passports – can become repetitive and sometimes frustrating as the game is a bit unclear on some the of the explanations for how to check a passport and what to look for.

    The more you play, the easier the game is to understand, and thus makes it a game you can delve deep into and enjoy thoroughly, or pick up and put down at your leisure.

    Apart from the learning curve, this game is fun, well thought-out, and definitely worth a try.

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