Of this entire list, we can’t think of a job we’d like to have less than an immigration officer working the booth in a 1980s Easter Bloc totalitarian-ruled government. The job requires long hours, a constant focus on small details, and turning away desperate people looking for a safe home on a daily basis. And that’s just on the good days, you know, when people aren’t trying to blow you up.
And yet, that’s exactly what Papers, Please asks of its players. The game does nothing to glamorize its reality: you are “assigned” the job, you make horrible money, and every day ends in a balancing act of buying food or medicine for your family while trying to keep the heat on. And it’s the reason, among others, that it’s so excellent.
Doing things in Papers, Please is incredibly satisfying–from the simple stuff like pulling the lever to open the booth, stamping passports, or flipping through the rule book, everything feels uniquely physical and works well together. And then there’s the actual game part, in which you must play detail detective and examine every entrant’s documents to make sure they’re valid, as well as send away known murders skipping town. It’s a grueling job, but a fun game to be good at.