Now, before I tell you how to succeed in this game, know that I’ll be referring to the path that leads to Ending 20 of 20 (a.k.a. doing your job right as the immigration inspector). I know this is not everyone’s ideal end-game — I’m not even sure it’s mine — because what does “winning” in Papers, Please actually mean, anyway? However, if you do want tips to do well with the assignment given to you at the start of the game, read on.
Here’s my general advice (there’s a more concrete list included at the end):
- Use a note sheet. Print this out (also shown below) and put it next to you as you play. It’ll be your quickest reference. Remember, the more people you inspect before 6pm, the more money you get.
- Check expiration dates first. This is one of the fastest things to check. Plus, expired documents allow you to reject an immigrant immediately without highlighting the discrepancy or interrogating them, unlike a forged document (this works until Day 18, when you have to start including your Reason for Denial).
- Verify all the required documentation is there. This is an even quicker thing to check, but I’m still listing it after the expiration dates. This is because sometimes an immigrant does have the missing documentation, but will only present it after you question them. Rejecting them before this exchange will result in a citation.
- Only give your family food and heat if they’re not “OK”. Yes, that’s right. If your family’s not hungry, don’t give them food. If your family’s not cold, don’t give them heat. This saves you easy money and they will all survive in the end, anyway. The general rule is every other day, but if they’re sick, give them what they need.
- Ignore all EZIC requests. Burn that bribe money! Your boss will find it.
- Make sure you read your daily bulletin. The rules change a lot over the course of the game. Reading your bulletin at the start of your day doesn’t waste anytime (as the clock doesn’t start until you call “Next!”), but it will save you some fines! This is especially important when it starts including Wanted Criminals.
- Remember to check gender. This is an easy one to miss, as it is only denoted as a single letter. Another one that sneaks by is height and weight, though these are less common.
- Do what your supervisor tells you. Should be a given, but at some point he will specifically ask you to let in a woman named Shae Piersovska. Approving her entry will result in a citation (as she doesn’t have Diplomatic Authorization in Artstotzka), but denying her (or god forbid, detaining her) will be at the cost of your job.
- Accept that you can do very little about terrorism… until you get a weapon! This starts on Day 16. See also the visual provided for #6 — keep your keys to the drawer handy.
Above all, you need an eye for detail. Honestly, it also helps to care very little about the characters. There are 50+ things that could be wrong with a person’s documentation. Not only that, but here is the list of all actions/non-actions that will result in a citation (according to the official Papers Please wiki):
- Denying entry to a person whose documents are clear.
- Allowing entry to a person whose documents contain discrepances or who are missing documents.
- Allowing entry to a person who appears on the Wanted List
- Unauthorized passport confiscation.
- Not confiscating required passports
- Not giving a Reason for Denial if it is required.
- Allowing entry to a person who is carrying weapons or contraband.
Anyway, now you have the tools to succeed. Feel free to leave your feedback/experience in the comments.
Glory to Arstotzka.