Papers Please

The critically acclaimed game Papers Please now has a short film that captures the aesthetic and mood of the game’s totalitarian regime. Via Polygon:

The YouTube version of this Russian-language film offers subtitles in 22 languages, which is an artful statement itself. Several of them are nations formerly of the Eastern Bloc, whose cold, bureaucratic governments are the basis for “Arstotzka,” the fictitious nation for whom the protagonist, an immigration inspector, works.

It’s only 10 minutes long so it’s practically impossible to give an overview that does not reveal the conclusion or its major plot points. Papers, Please the film is, however, like its namesake, unforgiving and nihilist in tone, both making a larger statement about what these kinds of regimes expected of people, what it did to them, and what the consequences were.

Papers, Please should need no introduction, but still: It’s Lucas Pope’s award-winning independent game from 2013, in which the player must evaluate the documents and pleas of those crossing a divided city held by two ideologically hostile nations, somewhat like Berlin from 1945 to 1990. The system is designed to present players with the moral dilemma of doing one’s job correctly or showing compassion, often when presented with a compelling verbal plea that conflicts with someone’s documents.

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