Papers, Please

A graphical adventure game about Cold War-era immigration control, where players take the role of an immigration inspector who must control the flow of people entering a fictional Soviet-style nation. Glory to Arstotzka!


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Papers, Please is a historical-fantasy point-and-click puzzle-adventure game developed and published digitally by 3909 for the PC and Mac on August 8, 2013, with Linux support on February 12, 2014.

Designed by indie developer Lucas Pope and described as a "Dystopian Document Thriller", Papers, Please has players controlling an immigration inspector for the fictional Soviet-style nation of Arstotzka during Cold War-era 1982 (right after a six-year war with neighboring Kolechia).

Most of the game takes place behind the inspector's desk, where players manipulate documents and other actions with their mouse/touchscreen. They must inspect the credentials of incoming civilians (noting any irregularities) and either accept or deny entry. As an added challenge, they are tasked with processing as many people as possible (with minimal penalties for incorrect decisions) within a certain time limit in order to earn money to feed their family and keep them warm through the harsh winter.

Throughout the game, the rules of entry change, adding further complexity and difficulty, and players are introduced to new techniques and technology to identify and detain terrorists, criminals, and other rule-breakers. They may also be challenged with moral dilemmas (that affect the game's world) and complicated politics (including the introduction of a mysterious resistance organization known as The Order of the EZIC Star). The game includes 20 possible endings, with three "true endings", and an unlockable "endless" game mode.

The game was ported to large-screen iOS devices on December 12, 2014 and to the PlayStation Vita on December 12, 2017. Both versions use touch-screen controls and modified game interfaces (with the iOS version using the taller portrait screen orientation and the Vita version using a screen that scrolls). A limited-edition physical release by Limited Run is planned for the Vita version sometime in 2020.


Story Mode

In Papers, Please, the gameplay centers around fact checking and searching for discrepancies in paperwork presented by applicants. Each day begins with a new set of instructions that have been influenced by story events. In the beginning, the player's job is relatively simple with having to only check Arstotzkan passports and deny entry to all other nations. As time moves on, the game introduces more complex procedures and the player will eventually have to cross check work permits, entry permits and even conduct intrusive scans to search for contraband or weapons or in some cases verify gender.

The primary tool of the trade is the Rulebook, which is updated with all the relevant new directives which the player must enforce. With all documents out and open, the player enters an investigation mode where they click any two items to check for discrepancy. For example, if the entry permit has a different passport number than the passport itself, one need only to click the two items to enable the option to question the applicant and possibly detain them. In the case of missing paperwork, the player must simply highlight the rule in the Rulebook and the tabletop.

Each day, the player is afforded two warnings before there are consequences for making mistakes during checkups. The player is given the opportunity to help people, which will be reflected in the next day's newspaper.

Endless Mode

When the player manages to survive story mode with their job intact, they will receive and unlock a code for endless mode. Endless mode comes in 3 different forms, and each of those forms has four selections which dictate which documents and rule set will be included (from the simple rules from the start of story mode, to the more complex ones at the end of story mode). There are separate leaderboards for each of these modes/rule sets for a total of twelve leaderboards.

The timed course gives the player ten minutes to correctly process as many people as possible. Each person correctly accepted/denied gives a point, and making a mistake docks 30 seconds from the time and doesn't give a point. This mode stops immediately when the clock hits 0, even if the player is currently dealing with somebody's documents.

The perfection course does not have a set time limit; it terminates when the player earns a citation. The player is encouraged to move quickly by getting bonuses depending on the clock. (+10 for processing somebody within the first minute, dwindling down to +1 at ten minutes and remaining that way for the rest of the round.)

The endurance course also does not have a set time limit. The player earns a point for each person they correctly process, and citations remove points. For each citation, the amount of points removed is increased (first citation being minus five points, the second being minus ten points etc.). It terminates when the player runs out of points.

In Game Details

The following table contains countries able to issue passports to visitors to Arstotzka, along with their issuing cities:


• East Grestin

• Orvech Vonor

• Paradizna


• Glorian

• Outer Grouse

• St. Marmero


• Enkyo

• Haihan

• Tsunkeido


• Vedor

• West Grestin

• Yurko City


• Lorndaz

• Mergerous

• Skal


• Bostan

• Lesrenadi

• True Glorian

United Federation

• Great Rapid

• Korista City

• Shingleton

Historic Parallels

The game's nature has drawn parallel to the real-world division of Germany during the Cold War, particularly due to the capital city's name being 'East Grestin'. In the former GDR, the same naming system was used, simply placing the prefix 'East' in front of Berlin.

The war with Kolechia, however, lacks a parallel: during the Cold War, Germany did not engage in conflict.

System Requirements



  • OS: Windows XP or later
  • Processor: 1.5 GHz Core2Duo
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 1.4 or better
  • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Minimum 1280x720 screen resolution



  • OS: OSX Mountain Lion (10.8)
  • Processor: 1.5 GHz Core2Duo
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 1.4 or better
  • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Minimum 1280x720 screen resolution



  • Processor: 1.5 GHz Core2Duo
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
  • Additional Notes: Minimum 1280x720 screen resolution