Friday, 1 November 2013

Papers, Please: Reviewing a Communist Indie Game

Welcome to the What About Cynics Halloween Special Review. I tried to think of the most terrifying thing for a media and culture site and I worked out that it would probably be...Communism! So without further ado I will be reviewing Papers, Please. The most polite tyrannical dystopian game you've probably ever witnessed. (Ok, so "maybe" I was going to review "Vampire: Bloodlines" and "maybe" that video will take another 400 minutes to load, so "maybe" this won't be very spooky at all)

But first, for something truly horrifying. A video of me playing Papers, Please. Cue thunder and lightning. Alright, see you after the page split.






Ok, are all those non-page split viewers gone? Excellent. Upon hearing of Papers, Please Harvey is quoted saying "That sounds really boring", however, after watching me play Papers, Please he said "that looked pretty boring", a one plus improvement in the relative scale of good and bad from really to pretty. Hopefully you also had your expectations of Papers, Please raised by that stellar performance on youtube (Which you should totally reward with your viewership).

Glory Comrades, Glory!

Now, having played more of Papers, Please (which I will now call PP because typing it is surprisingly annoying), two things have occurred A) I have become way more involved in the storyline and B) I have got slightly better at checking passports. I think there are definitely two camps on this game, and while I like to assume people would transition from camp A to camp B after playing it, I have no basis for that claim.

Camp A) Upon hearing the concept of the game you were like "shit that sounds tedious, no way"

Camp B) Upon hearing the concept of the game you were like "wow, that's neat, I'd totally play that"


Even this guy, the game even made me like this dick
(watch the video and find out)

So yeah, much more than just a simple bureaucracy them up, though even that part of it is really immersive, depressing and well thought out. I was right in that the criteria for checking does get harder, and they start to weave in story-lines, of which you are a small part of, including our dear Jorji up there, and several others including a very touching love story.

It also does a pet favourite thing of mine which is reveal little parts of the story via in-game dialogue when you complete some of these bonus characters, including the war Arstotzka was in, the petitioning process and the state of the border countries.

Also, if you are wondering, I managed to keep my family alive...mostly...barely.

I suppose if you are looking for a review, it might simply come down to my above demographic highlighting. Upon hearing about a game where you play a soviet-esque passport checker for a bleak, dictatorial communist state if you think "excellent", then yes, you'll enjoy this very much and its everything you never realised you wanted. If you think "what the fuck is that for an idea", then maybe not, but hey, maybe, it is still a good story-line, you even get to sort of wield a gun at a few points.

Overall, Papers, Please is one of the most human stories that has come to gaming in recent years, the blurry graphics (which sometimes makes you think women are men) add to the sense that while each of these is a unique human being, to you they are just paperwork to be processed, forms to be filled. Right after that moment it'll violently yank you out of that mentality as a locket is passed to your booth, or a desperate plea for help given and you are faced with a choice. My family and my job, or this persons future?

Any game that can make that choice legitimately hard for me to decide, gets a good review from me.

14 comments:

  1. I hate to be negative, but playing this would feel like I'd spent a day at work. And I can go to work to feel like that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, well I haven't had a job for a year two weeks ago, so I need to artificially induce hardship into my life

      Delete
  2. Guy in pink (first picture) looks like a trouble maker, the sort to make subversive banners and write rabble rousing blogs in secret. I'd arrest that one.

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    Replies
    1. He was promptly rejected and shot as he walked away from the booth.

      Delete
  3. If you accept a backhander, does the game let you get away with it or just shoot you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe if you take backhanders and break the rules too often you can be arrested for sedition and the like.

      I've never been competent enough to profit, even illegal from passport checking though...

      Delete
  4. Trick or treaters covered my car in shampoo, so when it rained this morning I had a foam incident.

    Sooner we are a police state the better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never even knew that worked...That is amazing.

      Must be really tedious though, if it is any consolidation in Arstotzka they'd be hung (and you probably wouldn't have a car)

      Delete
  5. (Formerly anonymous). In the whole film of Reservoir Dogs I remember the ear thing and Mr Pink's reaction when told he was pink. Thought I'd try it on for size.
    This game has had good reviews on metacritic surprisingly. I guess you learn what sort of beauracrat you'd be. Useful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good choice in name, Mr Pink was my favourite, I have a badge with his name on (Yes, that lame). It suits you sir. Yeah, people are really liking it, nice to see, the Games industry needs to learn it can take risks like this.

      Delete
  6. All hail Cynistan! Land of the free-ish

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  7. In cynistan Harvey would be the scary border guard with the pack of rottweillers.
    Aaron would be the pushover.

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    Replies
    1. He'd be scary for 11 hours of the shift, asleep for the other hour. I'd be your 24/7 pushover. Glory to Cynistan.

      Delete