To parrot what has already been said, I never knew stamping passports could be so fun, let alone ending up as one of my most anticipated games this year. The wonderfully dystopian world of Papers, Please easily captured my heart with its soundtrack, gameplay and premise of the beta. Now that the full game is set to release this Friday, I found myself down with a bad case of glee and wound up with a receipt thanking me for my pre-order. I don’t usually buy games before release these days but given the quality of Lucas Pope’s work so far, I’m feeling pretty damn confident.

Papers, Please gathered lots of attention back in May this year as one of the highlights from the 26th Ludum Dare game jam. Pope, who goes by the handle @dukope, decided to turn his submission into something more, resulting in a flurry of praise from both the gaming media and YouTube personalities. The game’s concept is simple: as an immigration officer of a communist state, use both the documentation and your better judgement to either allow or deny entries. You’ll pick it up in no time but things decidedly get more complex as tensions, terrorist attacks and stricter requirements pile up. And then there’s the moral decisions – should you pocket that bribe money and risk a fine, or do you close the shutters and call in security? If that sounds straightforward to you, wait until you run across the person who just wants to see their family.

But wait, you have a family to take care of too. You need to bring home enough money each day to pay for the rent, food, heating and medical bills. Yet you only get paid for letting a person into the state. Warnings eventually lead to docked pay so you’ll also need some leeway for the mistakes you make. Suddenly each mouse click feels laden with responsibility and more often than not, I just scrape by with what I earn and consider savings above $30 to be a windfall.

As a whole I find it immensely satisfying and thought-provoking. Pope says that story mode will have a total of 31 in-game days, taking you at least four hours to reach a main ending. There are 20 different endings with their own set of requirements, so there’s definitely some replay value to be had here. There’s also an “endless mode” which pretty much says what it is, though I don’t find myself too excited over that.

Here’s my suggestion: play the demo (try The Republia Times while you’re at it) and then read the FAQ. After which you can either keep tabs on the game or… try to convince yourself to keep tabs on the game. I’ve yet to find someone who dislikes it so really, give it a shot.

Papers, Please is developed solely by Lucas Pope and will be digitally available to PC and Mac this Friday via Steam, GOG or the Humble Store for US$9.99 (SG$12.68). Glory to Arstotzka! Now carry on and don’t cause any trouble.

Source: Papers, Please