The Westport Independent is a censorship simulator taking place in a post-war country, governed by the recently elected Loyalist Party. As the editor of one of the last independent newspapers in the country, your job is to remove and edit the content of your paper, affecting the people’s opinion of both the rebels and the Loyalist...
User reviews:
Mixed (80 reviews) - 58% of the 80 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Jan 21, 2016

Sign in to add this item to your wishlist, follow it, or mark it as not interested

Buy The Westport Independent


About This Game

A game about Censorship, Corruption and Newspapers

The Westport Independent is a censorship simulator taking place in a post-war country, governed by the recently elected Loyalist Party. As the editor of one of the last independent newspapers in the country, your job is to remove and edit the content of your paper, affecting the people’s opinion of both the rebels and the Loyalist government. With an increase of rebel activity and an ever watching government breathing down your neck, whose truth will you print?


  • Change the content and meaning of your articles by censoring them to your liking. While you can’t lie, you don’t have to tell the whole truth either.
  • Employees with fleshed out character, who will not only react to your actions, but also discuss them with other colleagues.
  • Receive letters and messages from public figures, rebel leaders, employees and other characters affected by your actions.
  • Adaptive stories where your actions affect the opinions of the people, which affects what happens in the city, which in turn affects the stories you receive.

Awards and recognition

  • - Biggest surprise at The MIX GDC 2015, IGN
  • - Part of "Three Cool Surprises From PAX 2015", from Kotaku
  • - Part of "The Very Best Indie Games of GDC 2015", from Gameinformer
  • - The Best of GDC 2015, 148 apps

System Requirements

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Open GL 2.0
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Open GL 2.0
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Open GL 2.0
    • Storage: 100 MB available space
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated Sept. 2016! Learn more
Mixed (80 reviews)
Review Type

Purchase Type


Display As:

(what is this?)
69 reviews match the filters above ( Mixed)
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 3
Fun, but only for a few minutes.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
394 of 482 people (82%) found this review helpful
11 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
4.7 hrs on record
Pre-Release Review
Posted: January 21
The inevitable comparisons between The Westport Independent and Papers, Please are kind of unavoidable. With its lo-fi visual style, themes of an oppressive totalitarian government and it's simple drag-and-drop mechanics it shares a lot of similarities with Lucas Pope's 2013 indie hit. (And is almost a carbon copy of Pope's earlier gamejam game - The Republia Times.)

But where it differs is in its ability (or lack there of) to engage with the player and create feelings of empathy for the game's characters through its mundane, paper pushing actions.

At it's heart The Westport Independent is a management sim. You are the editor-in-chief of one of the last remaining independent newspapers in Westport and its your job to get the truth out to the public. Unfortunately the new Loyalist government has other ideas and its new Public Culture Bill is crushing free speech and freedom of the press throughout the country. You must tread that fine line between reporting the news accurately and not raising the suspicions of government too much.

You do this by picking out which stories you think you can get past the unblinking eye of Big Brother, changing the headlines and censoring certain sections of the story as necessary. You assign these articles to your reporters who all have their own political allegiancies and levels of suspicion from the government. And all this whilst trying to maintain the papers popularity.

But whereas Papers, Please had you really caring for your little immigration inspector, his family and even the people passing through his booth in The Westport Independent I felt nothing for the editor, the reporters or even if the paper [inevitably] got shutdown.

What's more there is no urgency to the game. In Papers, Please you had that ticking clock adding to the stress of processing people quickly & accurately but also the need to fill your quota for the day so you could actually feed your family. In Westport you do have a countdown to when the Culture Bill passes in 12 weeks time but whilst you are sat at you desk no time passes what so ever.

It's a real shame as I had high hopes for the game, as I thought the idea of trying to maintain an honest news organisation under the heel of an oppressive government is a fantastic concept. Unfortunately the execution just feels a little lacklustre.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
201 of 235 people (86%) found this review helpful
10 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
0.4 hrs on record
Posted: January 21
Look at the time i spent playing this game. Yup, that is a single playthrough. 12 turns, that is all.

Replay value seems minor as there are hard repurcussions for extremes, so there is no Papers Please-esque payoff to certain actions.

That said, this game has a lot of potential, and if the gameplay lasted for longer than 12 weeks (turns) i would be able to recommend this game.

As it is now, however, why would i pay 10 euro for a game that entertains me for a shorter time than most Youtube content?
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
118 of 149 people (79%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 21
Sadly I cannot recommend. The demo had 7 weeks, and this only has 5 more. I thought this game was going to be significatly longer, and may have some business management to it. Sadly that it not so.
This somehow felt like it was just about to get to the climax when it ended, which utimately was a let down.
The art style however, is beautiful, and the work on lore and background is great.

*Edit 1*
Hm, that's odd, the top reviews on the page have suddenly shifted.. the first displayed ones are now positive with the reviews being rated less helpful then others farther down the list.
There's also a sudden surge of positive reviews. Odd.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
80 of 95 people (84%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 21
I would like you to note my playtime...

I had high hopes for this game but sadly it fell short. I started with a full Loyalist playthrough and it was dead easy. I had my more rebel leaning journalist write about celebrity gossip and my loyalist leaning journalists write about the glorious actions of our beloved government (Heavily censored of course) so that they would always feel safe and be happy. I quickly gained big favour with the Loyalists, turned all four districts to full loyalist support and won the game. On my second playthrough I decided to, no matter what, go full rebel!

...The Loyalists arrested Frank on turn four. I think he was the one that was a rebel, here you see how much the game had me care about the employees. I don't know who is who...). The Loyalists then shut me down at turn six.

I can see that the challenge of the game is to run a rebellious newspaper without getting shut down and hopefully see the Rebels overthrow the Loyalists in the end of the game but frankly I can't be bothered to try, not now anyway. When playing as a loyalist there is really nothing that counts against you since there is no risk that rebels attack your offices.

Many people have compared this game to Papers Please, and I can see why as they are set I very similar environments, and with similar gameplay elements, like the big bad government and resistance movements. But in Papers Please, going for either one brought different challenges and different rewards. I would like to point to my previous paragraph and once again point out that the rebels are no threat to you in this game.

Is this game worth its price? Absolutely not! The game is maximum twelve turns and i've seen people finish it in around 40 minutes. For me it took an hour. If you want to test it out I suggest that you buy it on the appstore instead where the price is around half of Steams price. Some things change, such as which articles appear on which turn but on my second playthrough I didn't really see any new articles that I didn't get in my previous playtrough. Between turns there is a cutscene where your journalists discuss the current state of the country somewhat based on the articles you decide to print but how the discuss them don't really change depending on what you censor and to which side you lean.

It's a good concept but it doesn't feel finished or fleshed out and for that I can't recommend it as of now.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
50 of 61 people (82%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 21
I am going to mark this as a recommendation, not because I wholeheartedly recommend this game but because Steam's review section is so limited. I would say, pick this up on a sale.
TLDR; If you liked Paper's Please you'll like this but be warned it's MUCH shorter and also more limited.

I actually really did quite enjoy this, and I would disagree with some of the reviews around that say it doesn't provoke empathy as Papers Please did. No, it doesn't to the same degree, cos there is a smaller cast of characters; it's just you in your office with your writers after all.
But it does match PP in that it still has that oppressive atmosphere that has you want to achieve a greater task against a bigger power holding you down, and the stories give the world a sense of place, with many running stories across each week.
You will see through the eyes of this editor the many totalitarian practices the government is enforcing on its citizens, as well as the rebel's acts of terrorism (I do feel the story aspects are much more one sided on being anti government admittedly), and it is down to you to try and get the truth out without endangering yourself, your staff or your business. It feels like a reverse Ministry of Truth from 1984.

If you're a fan of Papers Please there's a lot to like here thematically, so why is there no unreserved recommendation?
The major concern is that this is a much more limited game than PP.

First, it doesn't have the same gameplay; PP was like a puzzle game that required you to not only be accurate but quick for best results. This is just you making a choice - which articles to run, which sections in it to censor, which writer do you give it, where do the articles go in the paper in terms of priority, and to who do we market the paper to?
This last variable however seems completely useless as far as I can tell, I'm not quite sure how your sales affect your playing experience frankly.

Occasionally, you will get menacing messages across your desk from government/rebel forces warning you of your actions, but as far as I can tell, as long as you don't max out your suspicion meter you're fine - don't seem to be any instant failure states like PP did.

It took me an hour to finish one run, and from what I can see endings aren't as varied as PP either; it's more a slide show of variables that are affected in binary ways, a la Fallout 3's ending.

If you can get it really cheap it's worth a look, it's not a bad game but it is quite limited
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
20 of 20 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
2.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 13
A difficult recommendation.

The Westport Incident tries to hit the same trigger "Papers, Please" did and show how difficult it is to operate within a repressive dictatorship. You are taking the role of a newspaper editor who has to basically choose between being a government mouthpiece, and keeping the paper running while being complicit in the government repression; or reporting the news in a more truthful manner, but by doing so putting not just the paper, but also your employees at risk.

Gameplay consists of choosing which articles to put in the paper, how to present them, and who to write the article. For example you may get an article about a bombing. Articles can be roughly separated in two categories: politics and fluff.
Fluff is without risk, but doesn't do much for your paper's popularity.
Politics is where the risk is.
If you are fully loyal throughout it's easy to complete the game, although you do end up supporting a totalitarian regime.
If you decide to be disloyal (and report the truth), you will run into several problems. The most clear one is that if you become too disloyal to the government before time runs out, the paper is closed and the game ends. But even if you try to balance this somewhat by occasionally reporting something with a government slant or publishing fluff instead, you may still risk your employees as they all have their own suspicion meter. Allow this to go too high and they are arrested and you will have one fewer article you can print each week.
Increasing the difficulty further is that your employees have different political leanings, a Loyalist supporter will not be happy to write against his government, for example.

The various loyalties and suspicion rates make the game pretty difficult to balance. There are several possible endings, and it will require multiple playthroughs to unlock them all.

While I like the concept a lot, I have a few issues with this game and they hold it back from being a new classic like its obvious inspiration Papers, Please.
First off, the various mechanics are not really explained. Unless you read this or other reviews, your first playthrough you will likely have no idea about the different employees' suspicion meters, and their arrest will come at a complete surprise. The game has a too brief tutorial and it doesn't tell you about this at all. It is also not clear exactly how the advertisement works, and if this even matters. Each district has two subjects it cares about, but does that mean you are wasting advertisement points by still placing adverts in a district if your paper doesn't include a subject they like? The game doesn't tell you this.
Second, the presentation. There is no voice acting outside of the intro, there is very little animation, and the game simply does not look that impressive. You will be spending most of your time on the same screen just sliding things around with no variation.

For $/€ 10 as it currently priced on Steam I expect more from a game, but at a discount price I can recommend it.

Pick it up if you like Papers, Please, or the idea of working as a newspaper censor in a totalitarion society.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
21 of 22 people (95%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
0.7 hrs on record
Posted: April 17
Unfortunately, I can not recommend this game, even though I was hoping it'd be good.

As many others have mentioned, it seems quite similar to "Papers,please" (a game I really liked a lot), and I think that's due to
- the old school graphics which look pretty much like a C64 game. However, it doesn't matter much, as Papers, Please proved (even though I think it should be obvious) that a game doesn't need triple A graphics and can be fun even when it looks very outdated, as long as the GAME is good!
- The theme... the story is set in a region/country with a quite oppressive government, and you have to play along with the rules or suffer harsh consequences
- The fact that you have to decide a lot whether you DO play by the rules, or try to be rebellious.

And I think the game COULD have been fun. However... please take a look at the amount of time I played. That's one and a quarter playthrough...


Uh huh, I am serious. I finished the game in what, 33 or 38 minutes? I can't for the life of me understand why there are only 12 "rounds". 12 weeks where you put together a newspaper with 4 articles once per week.
You have different authors, some more in line with the regime, others rather rebellious. You decide whether you print news about politics and spin them to make the government look nice and caring, or try to tell people the truth.

For my first playthrough, I tried to satisfy the government just to see how that'd go. And I finished the game after less than 40 minutes. SO I figured, "Ok", maybe this is supposed to be played several times with different decisions.
However, the replayability suffers because everything stays pretty much the same...your editors, their cutscenes in between weeks (even though they do refer sometimes to decisions you made, many of them stayed the same the second time I played), the headlines/stories.
If they at least had put in randomly generated editors, so you'd have SOME variety when starting over. If they had put a pool of possible stories. I saw the exact same ones in my second game, so even though the game is short, I totally lost interest in replaying during, I think, week 4 of game 2. I had tried to "rebel" against the government this time, but with THAT much repetition, it felt dull.

I think this game COULD have been cool had they put in more randomly generated stuff. More variety. An increasing difficulty (like Papers please, where each day, a new thing to watch out for would be added or changed). More "time". Why only 12 rounds? This feels like a demo for a much bigger game, but sadly, that's all there is.

Even on sale, I don't think the game offers enough for about 5 EUR, not when there are games with more content and depth for like 99 cents. This had the potential to be good or at least decent, but now its a demo-sized game that feels as if the devs started with a great idea and then either lost interest, ran out of ideas or had to meet a deadline and finished the game in a rather basic shape.
Too bad, I would have enjoyed a Papers,please type game with different story and mechanics (newspapers instead of a customs officer), but this is just too little content, gameplay and mechanics. Try it if it's on sale for a buck or two, but I don't think this is worth 5-10 EUR.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
23 of 29 people (79%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: January 22
As it describes itself, The Westport Independent is a “censorship simulator” in which you take the role of an newspaper editor who must decide whose version of the truth your newspaper will print. However, The Westport Independent never emerges from the shadow that Papers Please seems to cast over it.


Set in the fictional town of Westport, The Westport Independent sets you as the editor of one of the last few independent newspapers in town. The town is torn between two factions, the fascist government known as the Loyalist party and the unnamed “Rebels”. As the story begins you are informed of the new “Public Culture Bill” which in 12 weeks will cause your independent newspaper to shut down and be handed over to the government. As the editor it is your job to assign stories to your four writers, censor whatever stories come in and decide what side of the truth to tell. Each week is interceded by a table discussion between your writers about what is going on in their lives and in Westport in general.

Gameplay and Thoughts

The gameplay is very interesting and screams Papers, Please. The gameplay falls into 2 basic stages. Reading, censoring and assigning articles for your writers and marketing. At the start of each week (one turn in this game of twelve turns) about six articles come across your desk. Your job is to read through them and decide whether to give each article a pro or anti government bias or even to run it at all. Running certain articles will affect the opinion of the city and can swing them from complacency to rebellion in a matter of weeks. However, running an anti-government newspaper will attract the attention of the Loyalist Party which will threaten your newspaper and may even kidnap some of your writers. The second portion of the gameplay is after you select what articles to publish. You take these articles and physically arrange what page they go on in the paper. Then you drag sliders to target certain districts and areas within the city. In total, each week takes about 5 minutes tops. For a twelve week long game, this amounts to each game taking 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

However, there is little replay value after doing one playthrough as a Loyalist Newspaper and one playthrough as a Rebel Newspaper. There is also a weird discrepancy between the two. A loyalist newspaper is very easy to do, no problems from anybody but also no notice from any of the Loyalist party. None of the writers will leave if you make them write Loyalist articles. This does not ring true for the other side of the coin. Playing as a Rebel newspaper is fraught with dealing with the Loyalists and having your writers kidnapped and your writers straight up quitting. Though the bump in difficulty is a welcome challenge, it stands in a stark contrast to the absolute stroll that is having a Loyalist newspaper.

All in all, the gameplay is short but entertaining. However, it feels like the successor to “Papers Please” (Though it is not made by the same people, there are too many similarities, whether they are intentional or not , to not draw comparisons) without capturing the essence of what made Papers Please successful. The lack of human interaction and missing the effect of your newspaper that really makes the game feel like its missing the soul and character that Papers Please was able to capture. This coupled with the extremely short length left a sour taste in my mouth as the credits rolled.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics are not intensive at all, with pixelated text being 99.9% of the game, running this game would take only the most basic of graphics cards. The settings really only account for changing the resolution which in my opinion is just fine as no fine tuning should be needed as there is little movement or effects on the screen.

The soundtrack is nice, consisting of one single repeating song that sinks silently into your subconscious. Sounding like something straight out of Casablanca, this song quietly hums in the background and helps set a nice tone for the game.


I have very mixed feelings about The Westport Incident. On one hand it is a good game. It presents a good, thoughtful message. It really lets you see that the city of Westport is tearing itself apart and lets you step into tip the scales in one groups favor. The Westport Incident brings interesting and unique mechanics to the table that are really only ever seen in Papers Please. However, in this case, it seems the bad outweighs the good.

Though the game tries to come off as very deep and thought provoking, it provides no real moral dilemma or anything where you can’t simply game the system to get everything you want. I honestly felt no emotional connection to the writers and didn’t care about them besides the fact that it would mean I could only write 3 articles a week rather than 4. The publishing and marketing section of the game is very weak as the order you put the articles in doesn't really seem to matter and the areas you target are easy to master and take very little skill at all. After my 35 minute playthrough, The Westport Incident tried to get me to care about the city through a five minute long, unskippable, all text end credit sequence which told me about everything in the city. I feel as though this was not very effective and it did not make me care as it was already too late. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with the game is its length. It took me an hour and a half minutes to beat the game twice on my first two playthroughs. Had you been making a newspaper daily for 12 weeks rather than weekly (resulting in 84 turns rather than 12), I feel as though the game would have been much more interesting and definitely much more worth it. Though The Westport Independent has touched on interesting ideas and mechanics, it fails to capture the character and spirit of Papers Please which it is inevitably compared to. However, even without this comparison, The Westport Independent is too short to really leave an impression on the player.

Final Rating:

5/10; What could have been a great game is stifled due to length, lack of emotion and a lack of challenge.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
17 of 22 people (77%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 23
It's a good concept, but after playing for less than an hour I had already finished the game. I do not think this game is currently worth the price, however, if you're looking to pick this game up, I strongly reccomend waiting until the price lowers, or if there's a sale. One hour of gameplay coupled with very little to do isn't worth the price.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Recently Posted
19.1 hrs
Posted: October 3
Helpful? Yes No Funny
1.4 hrs
Posted: October 1
This was a really interesting game. I think it does a great job of simulating the pressure of being an editor in a troubling time, using cutscenes to get you invested in your staff and making you double think your actions. It's really well designed, forcing you to think how best to send out rebellious messages without raising too much suspicion. There are also multiple factions in there as well, and your choices can force their involvement or have your staff leave for a week to do personal business. It's all really well done touches and makes for a great little title.

Also love the presentation, and the gossip stories are funny tabloid parody. Well recommended.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.6 hrs
Posted: September 21
It was a lot of fun, I'm not sure what the negative reviews are for. It is what it was advertised to be, and I got it on sale for 2 dollars. The game was totaly worth the money.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
1.0 hrs
Posted: September 9
An amazing experience that will change the way you look at articles.
Everyone should run through this game once, it's quick, simple, fast, and more potent than Papers Please.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
1.2 hrs
Posted: September 3
This game it's a boring game I have ever played in my life as Journalist what a freaking mess
Helpful? Yes No Funny
1.8 hrs
Posted: August 30
TL;DR: Definitely not worth the full price, but grab it on sale if you have an interest in propaganda, censorship and/or publishing.


An interesting game which put you in charge of a weekly newspaper in the fictional fascist city-state of Westport. Which four articles will be published this week, what will you censor and will the header be biased? Whom of your four unique employees gets to write which article, and how will it affect the government's suspicion of them? Which article gets to be on the front page and to which of the four city districts do you market your newspaper the most? Will your paper be popular enough to sway public opinion one way or the other before the Loyalists feel you've crossed the line and crack down on your humble little newspaper? And you only have 12 weeks before the strict new law is passed and the game ends!

Twelve weeks, twelve papers, and the fate of the city's future.

If you have an interest in propaganda, censorship and publishing you will like this game. Sadly it offers very little replay value. After playing through the game twice in two hours I noticed very little variation in the possible stories I could publish, despite playing radically different both times.
If you can grab it on sale, do so. But it's just FAR too short and simple to recommend for the full $10 pricetag.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
3.2 hrs
Posted: August 26
First off: Have you ever read George Orwell's "1984"? Did you appreciate the meanings in it? Did you appreciate the perspective of a government worker who had to edit the media to ensure it to be proper for public viewing? Did you also appreciate the emotions that were conveyed, the fear of defying the government, which could lead to your death, or the thrill of doing the same thing, not giving a damn about the governement and giving the people the information they deserve?

Well, my friend, this game reminded me of 1984. It reminded me of the rumors Americans had heard of the Communist Russia. It reminded me of the thought and fear of a totalitarian government ruling above all. This game placed me in the shoes of the editor for an indepentant media outlet (newspaper, in this case). And in my first playthrough of it, I felt concern for what the government would do to me and my colleagues if I chose to speak out against the government, even the things that were accidents.

One of the things about this game is that you don't know how your article choices affect you, your colleagues, the paper, and the public opinion, until the next week.

I enjoyed this game, and I can't wait to find every different ending I can. I hope you enjoy it too.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
2.0 hrs
Posted: August 25
I'm a media junkie, so I loved this game. I played through in about 1.5 hours, but then went right back to re-play it. It's got a nice soundtrack, too.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
1.7 hrs
Posted: August 25
As much as I'd like to upvote this game, I can't.
Not for this price.

It is indeed a pretty interesting game about newspaper, corruption and censorship and has manny different aspects to consider, such as the governmental suspicion of you and your workers, the comfort of your writers, the populations opinion, distribution, content etc.
And it's really fun to read through all the articles, deciding over the title and what parts to cut out and seeing how it affects the population of Westport.

But once you've got through the game once, wich was done in 100 minutes by me, it's just repeating itself. The story is and stays the same.
The replay value only consits of getting different endings for different districts and for the workers, but that's about it.

It is a good game, but you most likely will only play it once for 1-2 hours or so and for that, the price is too high. I'm glad I've bought it on a sale so i only paid a fith of the price, and for this price it would be ok for every one, but not for 10 bucks.
Helpful? Yes No Funny