Papers, Please

This game is like being at work, every day, and I despise it.

Unless you’re on easy mode, you have to make constant sacrifices.  Corruption and bribery starts to look good because it’s the only real way to get ahead.  And still the endless grind, grind, grind…

It is an exceptionally good and original game.  I can see how people love it so much.  But someone like me (useless at roleplay) can’t play it.  I can’t take a bribe.  I can’t detach from the familiarity of a working day long enough to make myself take a bribe.  It’s terrible.  This game is the opposite of escapism.  This is the horror of the mundane.  It is locks me back in that box of daily fear of poverty and struggle and constantly being subject to greater powers with no moral way to get ahead, and the pressure of surrounding people always trying to make me take the unethical route.

All I do in this game is play it straight and get punished for it.  I am hopeless.  Kudos to the maker, Lucas Pope, for something so evocative: other works here.


A link to the game: here.

This is somewhat amazing, but more amazing is the community outpour it’s generated. Surprising kitten civilizations etc which span over months, if not years, of simply letting this game run in the background with good harvesting tactics.

I was entertained for several hours. The initial efficiency curve is hard, then suddenly things begin to stabilise. But improving your efficiency (speed of mastering new things and becoming more than an agrarian fledgling civilisation) requires growing your population, which then increases risk of death and failure again — those kittens are hungry in winter. Another long 10-20 min struggle to stabilise again, then the pace begins to chafe; you spawn another kitten, and the struggle begins again.

What I found really fascinating about this is how this text based version of a civilisation development game recast the more graphical Civ and Sim games in a new light. I used to play those all the time without ever really being conscious of time or resource accrual – because it was turn based, not a literal counting down of seconds.

In the end my impatience and anxiety (everything has a counter!) made a bad combination for pushing through with this game much beyond the discovery and farming of unicorns, but it was definitely worth the memories.


Not for me.

Passive gaming.  Start the window and watch it run.  The so called whimsical delights that other gamers keep raving about jarred me with their decontextualisation.  How did they get there across space?  What logarithm governs their appearance?  Someone wrote a review which posited the random crap pummelling your mountain out of existence was a metaphor for what people are doing to the earth now. Come on.

I would have enjoyed it more if it followed a randomised evolutionary cycle — start with a rock, a comet of ice shatters on it and creates water/atmosphere.  Algae grow.  Is it a water world, is it an alpine world, does it evolve dinosaurs which never die out, does every organism have a trigger point somewhere in their evolutionary cycle for the development of sapience and civilisation, so the game is really about hoping a randomised comet doesn’t kill off the evolving animals before interesting things really start to happen.  Can ALIENS land and colonise.  And so on.

I was attracted by the concept of just watching a mountain experience events, but I wanted a different game.