Papers, Please is a port to the iPad of the popular indie title released last year for the PC. You are a border control agent in a fictional Warsaw Pact-esque country called Arstokzka. The game play in essence involves inspecting those attempting to enter Arstokzka's documents to make sure they're in order, while providing for your family. The game will throw new rules at you each day, and you get paid per entry so you must balance speed and attention to detail. In addition, throughout the game, a story unfolds that you are very much a part of.
Papers, Please tells a great story without being overt or heavy handed. You'll remember citizens as they are denied and attempt to come back and enter, desperate to see their loved ones or find work. The choices you must make, whether to deny someone because their paperwork is a bit outdated, or to make them submit to invasive searches will make you feel what life in the Soviet Republics must have been like. The game feels quite natural on the iPad and the transition from PC to iOS was an easy one.
The game itself is quite difficult, sometimes to the point of frustration. Sometimes it's not immediately apparent how to execute a new order. It can grate on your nerves when you're trying to process as many people as you can and not know where to file new documentation.
Papers, Please continues this years great line-up of PC ports to iOS. It has a great subtlety to it, and its message to players can be interpreted in so many different ways. Will you toe the line and deny everyone who does not have the proper paperwork for the sake of feeding your family, or will you take pity on the lost souls who are trying their best to simply survive and risk your job. The game drives home that there is no black and white in Arstotzka, the only absolute is everyone suffers.