WORDS | Avery Phillips
While a game about paperwork hardly sounds like fun, Papers, Please proves that even the most tedious of subjects can make for an intensive play-through with just a touch of empathy applied. As a lowly immigration officer at the border checkpoint in communist Arstotzka, your job is simple: to examine documents and ensure that only those with valid paperwork are allowed to enter. Armed with simple red and green stamps, you must work quickly and efficiently to decide the fate of each would-be immigrant who appears before you, and make enough money each day to keep your family warm and fed.
While the game starts off simple enough, each new day brings new developments, which will force you into a moral quagmire. In a corrupt system, where no good deed goes unpunished, will you save a man’s life, even if doing so means you cannot afford medication for your son, or will you let a murderer walk free because you cannot afford the fine of denying him?
Although the game has little replay value, Papers, Please offers an intense insight into the concept of free-will within a dystopian society. If you are only going to play one Indie game from 2013, then make it this one.
Rating: 4/5 stars
While its status as a video game has been fiercely debated, Depression Quest earns a place in my Indie Hall of Fame for its brutal honesty and bittersweetness. Through the first person perspective of someone dealing depression, this game showcases the realities of a widespread illness without softening the blows or being sensationalist. There are no right or wrong choices to be made here, just many imperfect ones, which subtly influence the lifestyle of someone struggling through life against the haunting backdrop of piano and static fog.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Price: Pay what you want
Stanley is a man working in a bland office until his computer screen goes blank and he discovers that the building is now empty. Luckily, the Narrator is there to tell him exactly what to do, but…you don’t have to do everything he says, right?
I don’t know what makes The Stanley Parable such a brilliant game, but the answer surely lies somewhere between the passive-aggressive narrator, its commentary on choice and consequences, and the existence of an achievement that is only obtainable by not playing for five years. So play it. Or not. The choice is yours.
Rating: 4/5 stars