viernes, 21 de febrero de 2014

Papers, Please

As you know, I now write for as a full time hobbie. In time to time I'll post something here, but I'm more interested in video blogs right now. 
I played and reviewed a PC game: Papers, Please. The original, in spanish, is right here:
I decided to translate it for one particular reason: let the PP creator, know how I felt about his game. Sorry, his incredible game. Here it is.

Papers, Please

Today, graphics are a main feature to set a grade for a game, among others such as playability, design, music, multiplayer, and so on. But visuals, are mostly which engages the more to try a title, specially now with all the next-gen consoles. I have no doubts about my overwhelming love for all the systems I own, and rarely turn my head to my Mac despite the time it was my main console, and responsible for giving me hours and hours of fun. That’s why, when I want to play any game in my Mac, I REALLY want to play it. What must contain this one, in order to turn on the computer? Originality, that’s what I’m looking for, and I’m picky.

Too many times I read and heard about the greatness of Papers, Please. I didn’t imagine at any point that I would be in front of a Godínez’s life simulation (That’s how we call the regular office worker in Mexico), and, in 8 bits. Getting up early every morning, go to work and achieve a low salary barely to survive, it doesn’t sounds tempting. What could add thrill to a federal worker’s routinary life, who is daily condemned to check passports? Perhaps it’s the commitment to his country, to his family. Perhaps it’s nothing, or just maybe the motivation to go to jail and forget every responsibility. I couldn’t think of nothing, till I played Papers, Please.

Papers, Please, developed by 3909, is a simulation about a communist country, Arstotzka, which get their independency, and now as a new nation, tries to prosper day after day. A lucky (?) lottery result, make us creditors to a job where we are a border agent, which job is deny or allow the entrance to all the immigrants, into Arstotzka.Besides that, we can live at an apartment where our wife, mother in law, son and uncle are permitted to live. This apartment has a daily rent cost and heat. Equally, we should spend in food and medicine when someone gets sick, and illness occurs whenever we decide not to feed or heat our family, because not all the payments are mandatory and it depends if we’re willing to spend our money.

Let’s be clear about something, we are not in front of a The Sims or Tamagotchi type of game, despite it’s such an important part of the story, we’ll never be eating, paying, or getting medical assistance. We are just the head of the family, webring the money and are very careful when comes to save, because at some point we’ll needthose cents or we’ll end behind bars. In fact, the game doesn’t show us the members of the family, they’re important but never influence our job, only our choices.


I counted 20 different endings in Papers, Please, and each one is as interesting as any of the others. This endings may vary depending of the time we play: some of them come the first day, some several weeks later, it’s all on our choices, and these are the best part of the game, cause the seem so insignificant but at the end are determinants. The only thing that’s not an option, it’s the job, even though there’s always this chance to do it right, or blow it off. And that’s because the circumstances and people passing the border.

Every mind is a world and never we’ll never know why, some people react in such a bad way before protocols. These may be violated or not, and allow the entrance to unwelcome people. Here sits one thing I didn’t appreciate at the very beginning: if we let some criminal to pass, our punishment will be in order to how many mistakes we’re carrying, it means, if it is our first error to allow the entrance to some terrorist, we’ll have a ticket, not more. I think this is illogical, but those are the rules. All the tickets reduce our salary, every single one. Important: the less the money, the less the chance to fulfill our family’s needs; therefore they could die and we’ll get severe penalties.

It is clear then our social commitment in Papers, Please: being responsible with our family duties.But, the place where we are the most of the time, is in the booth. A very  little one by the way. Here it is where the magic happen, the magic of the game.

In Papers, Please, the screen is divided in three parts. Upper zone shows the aerial view, where we can see the booth and the people in line waiting for their turn, the yard which separates this area and the real entrance where the police is watching, waiting for an incident. Below and to the left, it’s where immigrants stands and gives us their passports and other papers, there is aheight meter (you will use it, trust me) and a mini desk to put any object need to be at sight; there you can have this super important rules book, useful bulletin and the transcription where every word is written. This one shouldn’t be left out of sight, because we’ll need it when not we’re putting attention to dialogues.

The third and last, but not least part is where the game really have its scent: the main desk. Here we’ll put every document needed in order to check its authenticity, we’ll compare against rules book and other papers available as we continue playing, they could be entrance permit, prints, physical description, work permit, and so on. Hidden it’s the gorgeous “Deny/Approved” seal, which isn’t definitive until passports is in immigrant’s hands.

In this very same desktop it’s the button that activates revision mode, and it should be pressed anytime a discrepancy is found, with an x-ray machine we’ll see if there is anything abnormal: this is the only way to act aggressively. Forexample, detaining the subject.

Papers, Please has an incredibly easy process, thus it’s more attractive for how becomes from easy to a little stressing (that’s ok with me!). We allow the next immigrant to come to the booth, “papers, please” and these will fall down to the mini desk. We’ll check if passport is a fake, the expiration date is ok, the person look like the picture, proper gender, the district belongs or exists in the country of origin, and everything they say matches the info on documents. I won’t spoil all the papers that will appear at every moment, because they are intimately related to story.

We’ll have the chance to check documents at our own pace, without forgetting that the more the immigrants checked, the more money we receive.We’ll have to be cautious about letting in those who fulfill requirements, and stop those who don’t. Once our duties end, it’s time to collect what we’ve earned, and to choose our expenses according our family’s needs: ill and hunger. There will be warnings and threats, and it’s up to us doing something about them. I mean: everything matters. Once we spent the money, it’s time to sleep till next day and, back to routine.

The minute I watched the trailer, my sense told me that Papers, Please was boring, and it increased when I read the description. As I mentioned, I wonder how it could break monotony and be great at the same time. It took me just three hours to find out: Molotov cocktails, bribes, bombs as presents in the desk, guns. Yep, guns! And even used to shoot a thousand soldiers and run into hell in any FPS, with PP simplicity, I get too (way too) excited when any of this happened. All I saw were papers and permits, so, when the time for me to use violence arrived, I had a little adrenaline rush, but enough to say “wooooow!” Plenty of wows.

Glory to Arstotzka!

We have no action game here, it’s just a work simulation, but originality is in every corner, every choice, since allow the entrance, till life-changing notes. Papers, Please match against big budget titles such as GTAV, The Last Of Us, Bioshock Infinite, among others. It hasn’t the same publicity, but we as an indie game, it took only greatness to shock gamers.

So, did I enjoy working in Arstotzka? Of course! I do and will whenever I got my Mac at hand. PP will be my first option; load it and check the most of papers I can. Definitely it’s in one of my favorites of the year, because IT IS special, entertaining, original, different and unique. Papers, Please is a view of a regular office worker, and it does reflects all the common things in its life: earn money, expend it, support a family and maybe hate that job. But I keep to myself this: no matter how boring or tedious is your life, there will be always room for surprise and thrill.

Well, I hope everyone decide to try this game. Repeat. Incredible game.

So long, and don't forget to visit me at

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