2013's year of gaming is coming to a close and that means Neoseeker is deep in deliberation over its "Game of the Year" award. This month, each of Neoseeker's 10 nominees for Game of the Year will be profiled. Join in the discussion, speculate on the nominees, and subtly persuade us which game deserves our highest award.
Papers, Please is repetitive, monotonous, frustrating, and absolutely one of the best games of 2013. Not such an easy thing to believe, is it? Yet without these negative aspects of gameplay Papers, Please wouldn't be able to create the high-stress environment that makes the entire experience so much more poignant. Developer Lucas Pope's immigration checkpoint simulator is a beautiful introduction to despair.
The player wields a stamp reading Approved or Deny, allowing or disallowing immigrants through the lone checkpoint into Arstotzka. The player performs their duties and then goes home and if he performed his duties well his family can eat and have heating to stave off the cold. If not? Well, the family can suffer and die. No matter what, the player goes back to work the next day. There's more to the game as it progresses, or perhaps there's not.
Why Papers, Please?
- What's the Message: I've thought a lot about this, but gave up on what is the message that the developer was trying to convey in Papers, Please? I certainly found the game despairing, but I don't doubt many will feel rewarded by the game. Simply surviving a day is its own success, so surviving the whole run should compound that, right? Yet the mixture of a dystopian future filled with a desperate, struggling and impoverished people... surviving may be as much of a success as is possible, but that's hardly worth taking any pride in. Whatever the message is, it's doesn't involve a happy ending.
- The Weight of Consequence: Some might claim there's a morality to Papers, Please's that makes the game it meaningful, but I couldn't disagree more. There is no morality in Papers, Please -- there's consequence. Every decision has a result, some of which can be quite severe. Can a player weigh one life against another over and over and say it's an issue of morality? Can a booth attendant decide one despotic government is better than another with a stamp? No, there's the choices one makes and living with the repercussions. One more stamp at a time.
- Approved/Deny: This is the power one man has over the world around him. Credits? It is either spent or saved; there no meaning to credits. Family members? In Papers, Please family members are checkpoints on a list after a day is complete. No, the only power this protagonist, this player has is wielded in a stamp: Approved/Deny. Within this stamp there is power, power where there is none to be found anywhere else. To create something like that in a game like Papers, Please? That's not just impressive, it's powerful.
I'm hoping that many readers have not heard about Papers, Please, because it'd be a privilege for me to introduce the game to them. It's not a traditional game, and I probably wouldn't describe it as fun either. Still, there are many gamers out there who look for more than just something to happily pass the time with, look for games with value beyond the measurement of their independent pieces. Papers, Please is one of Neoseeker's nominees for Game of the Year 2013. I highly recommend it.
Glory to Arstotzka?
Neoseeker's Game of the Year 2013 Nominees
- Tomb Raider
- The Last of Us
- BioShock Infinite
- Gone Home
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Saints Row IV
- Path of Exile
- Papers, Please
- Metro: Last Light
Neoseeker's Game of the Year awards are decided by editors Lydia Sung and Rory Young. Follow them on Twitter at @RabidChinaGirl and @bluexy , or read their news, reviews and features every day here at Neoseeker.
Make sure to get your vote in for the Neoseeker Community Game of the Year! The current leader is Pokemon X/Y, naturally.