Grim Games is a new series, in which I recommend titles that are fun and a little darker than your average video game. These somewhat twisted games add another dimension to playing, exposing you to morally interesting questions, even straight up evil. Let’s kick off the series with…
Papers, Please is one of my favorite games, even though I suck at it. You take on the role of a poor sap, working the newly opened Grestin border crossing in the dystopian, cold-war era, totalitarian regime that is Arstotzka. Your job is to check that everyone’s papers are in order, before either letting them in, sending them away, or detaining them for questioning. It’s an ungrateful job, and you will be exposed to everything from murderers on the run and terrorists to prostitution rings and families torn apart.
As you progress, the paperwork gets more and more complicated, and you will likely be able to process fewer people per day. This means less pay, which in turn makes you short on the bills. Soon enough, your family will get sick from having no heat and not enough food, but if you’re lucky, you will scrape in cash enough to at least avoid eviction.
In some ways, Papers, Please is quite depressing, and this feeling is amplified by the gritty, desaturated graphics and a soundtrack that would make any Soviet General stand at attention. And I am completely in love with this gem of a game! Whenever I have had a really good day, I like to fire it up and get a dose of humiliation. Glory to Arstotzka!