GO BUY IT FOR ARSTOTZKA!
Steam | GoG | Humble Store
Papers, Please (Lucas Pope)
FREE Beta (short, ~30min-1hr)
Forget the boring text below for now, just go play!
(If you get stuck on day 3, open the rule book, highlight the rule of needing a passport and click on the desk to interrogate the old man who just won't leave.)
A Dystopian Document Thriller.
The communist state of Arstotzka has just ended a 6-year war with neighboring Kolechia and reclaimed its rightful half of the border town, Grestin.
Your job as an immigration inspector is to control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Among the throngs of immigrants and visitors looking for work are hidden smugglers, spies, and terrorists. Using only the documents provided by travelers and MoA's primitive computer dispatch system you must decide who can enter Arstotzka and who will be turned away or arrested.
This game is a work-in-progress.
[A beta version just got released of the game yesterday, where you can play up to day 9.]
Heard of/played Cart Life? We're in a similar ballpark of moral dilemmas placed through gameplay. It's still linear, but there are hints of consequences that I won't spoil if you let certain people in when they usually would be denied. It's more a reflection of what kind of person you are. There are some amusing characters, and then some sub-plots that are pretty brutal.
As the days go on, there's a lot of checks and balances to keep track of.
You've got a family to take care of, so you don't want to make any mistakes and have enough money to feed or keep them warm. So you've got to get more people accepted in the opening hours you're allotted (time goes really fucking fast). But it's hard to quickly snipe issues with if the person's passport hasn't expired, is from Arstotzka on first day, is it the right issuing city (which is the longest mental hurdle to cross-reference unless if you can memorise more than 20+ city names), whether they have the entry ticket later on and right date on that, are they a suspected terrorist or just a tourist, and a few more things to worry about.
You can make 2 mistakes without penalities to your salary, so you can excuse a few people.
It's the usual risk/reward in games taken to a more disturbing level. It puts you into an uncomfortable position. I don't know much about actual immigration officers, but I wonder if they also "gamify" their jobs to keep that emotional distance while trying to take care of themselves and loved ones.
It can hit close to home, but it's also not all doom and gloom. There's a running gag of an old dude who can't quite catch up with all the stuff he needs. People whose appearance have changed over the years.
If you like this or are interested in more indie games, head over to the Indie Games thread. There's bound to be something there that catches your fancy.