When we talk about video games as an art form, it’s hard not to mention Papers Please. Even 10 years later, the game is still making waves. There’s also no denying that it kickstarted Lucas Pope’s career as a game developer, and he has regularly shown appreciation for it. This also includes the game’s 10th anniversary earlier this year.
Papers Please has since become a classic and was even named to be one of the greatest video games ever made. It received several awards from the Independent Games Festival, Game Developers Choice Awards, and BAFTA Video Games Awards. This success was further consolidated with the fact that it sold over five million copies by 2023, the tenth anniversary of the game.
In fact, the game is so good that some players may have trouble finding a game that’s just as good as Papers Please. Whether it’s the art style, the gameplay, or the themes the game deals with that attract you, maybe you want to find something new. In that case, our editors have prepared a list of the 7 best games like Papers Please.
To find your next favorite game in the list of games like Papers Please, keep reading!
What is Papers Please?
For those who haven’t yet had the chance to experience Papers Please, we’ll include a short description of the game.
Papers Please is essentially a puzzle simulation game that takes place in the fictional dystopian Eastern Bloc-like country of Arstotzka. The player character is a border-crossing immigration officer who must review travelers’ documents. Depending on an ever-changing set of rules, you must decide whether these travelers can enter Arstotzka or not. You can choose to allow or deny them entry as well as arrest them if you find evidence of criminal activity.
However, you must also be careful not to make mistakes as they can negatively affect your salary at the end of the day. You will get a citation if you allow a traveler with insufficient or invalid documents to enter.
An additional aspect of the game is managing your finances. Your character is trying to feed and house his family, which is why you can’t afford to get citations. You will have to budget for food, rent, heat, and other necessities in the game.
Papers Please has a variety of endings depending on the choices you make throughout the game. The game also has a short film you can watch that will reignite your love for Papers Please if you haven’t played it in a while.
#1 Death And Taxes
Death and Taxes is similar to Papers Please in the fact that it puts you in an office, although you don’t exactly work with immigrants. In fact, Death and Taxes lets you play as the Grim Reaper himself, and your job is to decide who lives and who dies. Just like Papers Please, the game features choices and these choices have consequences that lead to certain endings. However, Death and Taxes also lets you customize your Grim Reaper, bringing an element of personalization into the game.
Somewhat differently from Papers Please, however, Death and Taxes features fully voiced NPCs. Of course, we can still count the Papers Please gibberish as voiceovers, but Death and Taxes is on a different level. Streamers will also enjoy this game for its Twitch integration which includes the audience in the decision-making process. With impressive visuals, an interesting storyline, and meaningful choices, we’re sure Death and Taxes will scratch your Papers Please itch of reviewing documents and deciding the fate of others! If you’re not too sure about buying the game, you can also try the free demo.
Death And Taxes Gameplay
The gameplay is fairly similar to Papers Please. However, you don’t really get to deal with many NPCs face-to-face considering you’re in an office working as the Grim Reaper. Your main task is to review documents that provide more detail about the person in question. From there, you’ll have to make the choice between checking two boxes, live or die. Depending on the choices you make at certain points, you’ll get different endings.
The character customization brings in a new element of interest for players who decide to check out Death and Taxes. Unlike Papers Please, you’ll actually know what your character looks like and you even get to have a say in what they wear! Other than this, there are several items in your office that you get to interact with. Some examples include fidget spinners, a cat, your phone, and drawers containing horrifying secrets. You’ll find that a lot of the gameplay has some humoristic elements to it, so you can relax and casually decide who lives and dies in this game.
#2 No Umbrellas Allowed
If you’re a big fan of the graphics in Papers Please, you may also enjoy No Umbrellas Allowed. Although the premise is different and the gameplay is only vaguely similar, the aesthetics may remind you of Papers Please. The story’s setting is in Ajik City, where you wake up with amnesia thanks to Darcy, the owner of a secondhand shop in the city.
Darcy takes you in and gives you a managerial position at his secondhand shop, ‘Darcy’s’. He also names you after his son, Bob. From there, you work to appraise customers’ goods and reveal their value. However, you’ll soon find out that all the citizens are a bit odd and don’t reveal too much of their thoughts or feelings. They also seem obsessed with the ‘Fixerain’, a concept that you’ll learn about as you progress through the game. Overall, No Umbrellas Allowed adds an element of mystery to the game that Papers Please doesn’t really have.
No Umbrellas Allowed Gameplay
In No Umbrellas Allowed, your task is to run Darcy’s secondhand shop. You can buy items from customers and also sell them. However, you’ll need to get the best deal from what you’re buying by determining its value by yourself. This is because the customers don’t really tell you everything about the item they’re trying to sell. Once you’ve made a decision, you can start negotiating with the customer to get a better deal on the item.
The second half, selling the item, is a little bit easier. You can showcase the item for customers to buy and set the price yourself. Depending on the prices, customers may choose to buy or ignore your item. Of course, you’ll want to buy low and sell high. However, trying to sell too high will result in not selling the item at all. The sale of your items also depends on your reputation. This is why you shouldn’t squabble too much with customers, as it will earn you a bad reputation.
#3 Limbs Repair Station
Limbs Repair Station is a great game to choose if you want games like Papers Please without breaking the bank. This browser game, developed by Rezoner, was also inspired by Papers Please. The player character is a repairman who works in a cybernetics repair center and performs technical repairs on robotic hands.
Limbs Repair Station Gameplay
The game provides a solid tutorial at the start by giving the player a template hand to play with. It’s quite intuitive and the player should get most of the information they need by just playing around with the hand.
Disassembly and diagnostics are always the first two steps of your repair. The third is replacing the broken components or installing new parts the customer requests from the player. Different customers have different requests, though, and some hands may not even have any defects. Instead, these customers will want you to optimize their hands in different areas such as grip and precision.
Just like in Papers Please, though, you’ll have to make sure several things are right first. For example, you’ll need to check that the cybernetic arm is under warranty. Second, you’ll need to check whether you can service the product from that specific retailer in the first place. Finally, you’ll have to verify all this information using the circuit board’s barcode.
#4 For The People
If you liked the political aspect of Papers Please, you’ll love For the People. This game mixes elements of a political management sim with visual novels, providing players with the ideal political experience. You play as a state official tasked with shaping the future of a communist factory town. This industrial center, named Iron-1, has several issues going for it including a social crisis and an economic deficit. Your job is essentially to make the town profitable again. Depending on the choices you make throughout For the People, there are several endings. You can choose to provide for the people or profit from them while disregarding their well-being. However, all actions have their consequences, and you must prepare for them accordingly.
For the People is a great game to learn how to stop and contemplate the possible outcomes of each situation. Just like Papers Please, you’ll need to make snap decisions and work more efficiently to get all your work done.
For The People Gameplay
The gameplay of For the People puts the player in an office following their election as a political leader in the mining town of Iron-1. This is where most if not all of the gameplay will happen. Your main objective is to make the town’s situation better for the people. To do this, you must make different decisions. However, you need to think about them carefully due to the consequences they bring with them. As soon as you make a decision, you’ll receive a printout that details what happened due to this decision.
While sitting in your office, you can read about the requests and complaints of the city’s denizens. This is how you make your decisions. Signing important documents and approving plans is just part of your job as a political leader.
You also need to determine your financial situation and decide whether these decisions are worth spending currency on. We say currency because there’s no official name for it in For the People. The city’s budget starts off at 485,000 and you can increase it through decision-making. For the most part, you’ll have to learn about certain game mechanics yourself as the guides in the game aren’t really sufficient for it.
#5 We. The Revolution
Although We. The Revolution keeps the same political themes as Papers Please, its setting is in a different time than the popular puzzle game. Namely, We. The Revolution takes us to Paris in 1794, a period that history nerds will know as the French Revolution. Your character is a judge in the Revolutionary Tribunal that passes judgment and sentences to those who stand before the Tribunal. At the same time, you must ensure that nobody sees you as an enemy of the revolution. This creates a dangerous but interesting political game that has you balance both sides.
The game tests your moral compass as it puts you in morally ambiguous situations. After playing it for a while you’ll come to realize that matters of life and death are not all that easy and a judge in such a high position must learn to make these decisions carefully and thoughtfully. Oh, and the gameplay is good fun, too!
We. The Revolution Gameplay
As the judge in the Revolutionary Tribunal, your task is to give speeches, pass sentences, and assign tasks to your agents. Before passing judgment, however, you must analyze all the clues, evidence, and reports as well as question witnesses for each specific case. At the end of the trial, you can also give your signature on important documents for court cases. Fancy!
An entertaining aspect that We. The Revolution brings in is the fact that your family also plays a larger role than in Papers Please. At the end of the day, you confront your judgments with your family. Depending on the decisions you’ve made, they may or may not disagree with your choices. The same goes for different factions who covet your position. You can choose which ones you want to befriend and which ones you want to eliminate in your struggle for power. Overall, the fate of the French people hangs in the balance, and you’re one of those responsible for ensuring all goes well. Good luck with your judgments!
#6 The Shrouded Isle
The Shrouded Isle is a game that is visually very similar to Papers Please. The art style will remind you of your favorite Arstotzkan characters. However, the premise of the game is a bit different. In The Shrouded Isle, you play a high priest whose task is to uncover and purge heretics. You do all this in preparation for the awakening of your God who is sleeping beneath the waves.
For nearly half a millennium, your village has lived like this, worshipping the sleeping God. You are essentially managing a cult, which makes the game very reminiscent of Cult of the Lamb. You must find out which members of your cult are heretical and dispose of them to please the sleeping God. However, you must take care to tend to the five aristocratic families whose support maintains the village and your cult.
The Shrouded Isle Gameplay
In The Shrouded Isle, each villager will have a random virtue and vice that may add or deduct points from your resources. This is why it’s important to balance out the two, as too many vices will result in a lack of resources in the game. At the end of the month, you must sacrifice the villager that is causing the issues.
The player character receives a ‘dream’ from the sleeping God every month. In the dream, he instructs the player to find a ‘sinner’ and emphasize one particular resource. This is where knowledge of every villager’s vice and virtue comes into play. Each of the houses we previously mentioned has set vices and virtues that can appear in any villager.
It’s a good idea to choose an advisor from at least three houses at the start of the game. They will make finding the ‘sinner’ much easier at the end of the month.
#7 St. Orchint’s Orphanage
One of the most impressive things about St. Orchint is that the game was made in just 72 hours! On the other hand, this also explains the game’s simple graphics reminiscent of Papers Please. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Both games have proven to tell compelling stories even within the limits of their graphics. They’ve also proven that you don’t really need stunning graphics to capture the attention of players.
In St. Orchint’s Orphanage, your task is to manage an orphanage. The darker theme of the game has you managing child labor as per the orders of the government. They are looking for military children and donations toward the war effort. They also don’t really care about the well-being of the children or how you’re going to make ends meet. All they really care about is the war.
St. Orchint’s Orphanage Gameplay
Despite your wishes, you will have to put all the orphan children to work. You’ll need to decide which children will train to become part of the military and which ones will work to provide funding for the orphanage. For example, you can send the children to sweatshops or have them work as chimney sweepers. The risk factor depends on the work you’ll have them do.
Along with providing funding for the war efforts, you’ll also have to make sure you can clothe, feed, and take care of the children’s health needs. As a way to tug at your heartstrings, the game also sends you letters from the children telling you how they feel or what they need.