Welcome to Arstotzka, a country that has recently opened its border after a war with Kolechia and thanks to the labor lottery, you are the newest immigration inspector in this tumultuous region. Bluntly stated, 'Papers, Please' is a job simulator that has you checking for discrepancies between information. You'll look over permits, IDs and passports. Reading to what the people say vs what is in the information. After you look over everything, you will either approve or deny them. If you find anything questionable, you can have the game check for dependencies, by clicking on two specific things, such as their photo doesn't match their face and then ask them about it. Later in the game, you will unlock things such as searching people and finger printing them.
Each day will have a new issue that you need to check for. Another layer that you look for. The game first starts out by only letting your own citizens back into your country. Then opening the borders to everyone with a ticket, then people need a permit, then a work permit for those working and an ID for your own citizens. You'll see the issuing city that you'll need to check your rulebook to see if its really an issuing city, a gender that you'll get to search their gender even if it looks like a woman, they could be a man, detain people with contraband, question identities and fingerprint them, look at the date of entry vs the expiration date of their passport, look at when their work permit says they'll leave vs how long they told you they'll be in the country vs what they told you. Eventually, forgeries will happen that will force you to see correct official seals are there. It is a lot of information you need to look over.
The major controls are just mouse clicks and drags. You have a rulebook that you can click and drag onto your desk. All information you are given from people needs to be click and dragged into your work desk to look over. Then approving or denying requires you to click to take out your stampers, then move the passport into place and click the approve or deny, then give everything back to the person, by clicking and dragging it back to them. Once you've approved or denied them, then its time to click the speaker to call up the next person in line. Its a very click heavy game, but as time goes on you can purchase booth upgrades that lets you click space or tab to call up things you'd normally just click and drag.
Each person that you process earns you $5. If you make mistakes and approve or deny someone that you shouldn't you will receive no penalty the first two or three times. After that, you start losing $5. Why does money matter? You have 4 people at home with you, your wife, your son, your mother in law and your uncle. You spend money on rent, heat, food and medicine. If you don't have enough money you have to start sacrificing things. If you don't have heat, your family will start getting sick and need medicine. If you don't have food, eventually your family will die. When your family dies its game over. You need to be both thorough and efficient in the game, because you only have so much time in a day. Some days get stopped short with unavoidable terrorist attacks and bombings that cause new rules such as searching every Kolechian.
There are other game over states, like doing something incorrect in front of the wrong person. If you get a game over, you can restart from any previous day. This makes the game pretty forgiving.
As the days go on, a stories will unfold and you'll be responsible for the course of mini stories. You'll meet interesting characters such as diplomats, soldiers with bribes, inspectors, angry people cursing you out, human trafficers, secret agents, mysterious men.
In all, this is a very unique game if not job simulator with a good story, good art style and music that matches the game and back story. I can understand if this game isn't for everyone, but if you can get into it, Papers, Please will keep your attention in a lot of ways. Once you get endless mode unlocked, you have 3 categories: timed, perfect and endless complete with leader boards.