Papers, Please is an indie game originally developed by Lucas Pope and produced through 3909 LLC in 2013. The game’s subheading reads “a dystopian document thriller,” and it certainly lives up to this description. During the gameplay of Papers, Please, you play an immigration officer who reviews the passports of people attempting to get into the fictional country of Arstotka. It seems easy at first, but what do you do when you’re not sure whether someone’s papers are real or fake? Do you take pity and let them in despite the risk, or do you leave them out in the cold? Whichever choice you make will affect the story at hand. Papers, Please has received praise for its compelling story, handling of moral dilemmas, and detailed look at immigration policy. Both Wired and the New Yorker listed it as one of 2013’s top games. Whether you already enjoy Papers, Please or haven’t yet tried it out, here are ten similar games like it you might enjoy!
10. Human Resource Machine
Coming in at #10 on our list of games like Papers, Please is Human Resource Machine. Human Resource Machine is similar to Papers, Please in that both could be considered puzzle simulations. In Human Resource Machine, you play as a corporate office worker who must figure out how to get a series of blocks from his inbox to his outbox. The game uses many aspects of digital programming and coding in its creation of the levels, making Human Resource Machine an excellent choice for the more digitally-minded. Each level introduces different mechanics and rules once the previous one is completed. These new and innovative twists help keep the player engaged as they navigate the complex world of the Human Resource Machine.
9. Limbs Repair Station
Limbs Repair Station has similar gameplay mechanics to Papers, Please, but exists within the science fiction genre instead. The plot of the game revolves around repairing futuristic hands for your customers who need assistance. Each client has a very different yet complex order—it’s up to you to ensure that their order is filled to their satisfaction. Their order also needs to correspond to their occupation, adding more complexity to this game. Another perk of Limbs Repair Station is that it’s completely free! Since it’s a browser game, it’s easy to access.
8. The Republia Times
Papers, Please and The Republia Times share the same creator! Lucas Pope created this game nearly two years before he made Papers, Please. The Republia Times, however, makes the player editor-in-chief of a newspaper, where you must choose which articles to feature in said paper. It seems easy, right? However, the twist to this game is that the government is holding your wife and child and refuses to release them unless you can dramatically raise public loyalty with your stories. Will you choose to do this, or will you try and rebel? This morally challenging game is also free to play in a browser.
7. St. Orchint’s Orphanage
Like Papers, Please, the events of St. Orchint’s Orphanage also take place within a war-torn state. As the player, you are in charge of running an orphanage that was formed due to the rising number of orphans during wartime. The game primarily deals with the business aspects of running the orphanage in question. It also deals with the moral questions of how to keep the place afloat while also keeping as many orphans alive as possible. Similarly to Papers, Please, St. Orchint’s Orphanage is very dark in tone. St. Orchint’s Orphanage is free to play in a browser.
6. Return of the Obra Dinn
Concept-wise, Return of the Obra Dinn is very similar to Papers, Please. The player works as an insurance investigator who is assigned to find out what happened to the Obra Dinn, a ship that mysteriously disappeared and has now turned up in port with no crew. It’s your job to figure out what happened through exploration and logic. Just like Papers, Please you’ll need to use your detective skills to piece together this puzzle and figure out what happened on this ghost ship.
5. Black Border
At #5 on our list of games like Papers, Please is Black Border. Perhaps one of the best games on this list in terms of similarity, Black Border also consists of the player existing as an immigration officer. The game and concept are very similar to Papers, Please because of this. However, Black Border involves potential black market activities—will you as the player help facilitate black market activities and possibly profit, or will you shut it down?
4. The Westport Independent
The Westport Independent takes place in a country where war has recently ended. Like The Republia Times (mentioned above), you are the editor of a newspaper. It is ultimately your job to decide what is placed in your paper. You have a variety of options as an editor. The editor can support the rebels or uphold the state’s current government. In addition, you can also choose to edit headlines however you see fit, making this game intriguing and political. Ultimately this game, like Papers, Please, is determined by your own moral choices.
3. Peace, Death!
Released in 2017, Peace, Death! is an interesting twist on the traditional “guarding borders” game. The player literally plays as a Reaper who works for death. Your job as Reaper is fairly simple—just send individuals to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory depending on their individual characteristics. However, the game itself gets harder as more features are added every day. Be careful when making your choices, as some can be misleading!
2. This Is the Police
This Is the Police, best described as an adventure/strategy game, involves you taking on the role of Jack Boyd, the chief of police. Boyd is ready to retire in one hundred and eighty days. The game features a lot of choices one can make based on individual decisions. Throughout the game, the police station receives a variety of calls and reports and Chief Boyd must choose which ones to prioritize. This Is the Police can be played on your browser, Xbox One, Playstation, or Nintendo Switch.
Beholder is a management sim game. It is similar to Papers, Please in that it exists in a fictional country. The country in question is totalitarian, repressing all rebellion. Instead of playing as a border agent like Papers, Please, you play as a landlord installed by the state. Throughout the game, it is your job to secretly spy on your tenants and report them to the state if you notice them participating in subversive anti-government activities. Beholder was published by Alawar Entertainment and can be played on Windows, Mac, or Linux.
We hope you enjoyed our list of games like Papers, Please. Papers, Please is a great game with a great following and it can be hard to find games to fill that void it leaves inside after you finish it. Your only options are to keep replaying it, or hopefully play one of the games above and fill that void!