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13 Games Like Papers, Please

You play the role of a border-crossing immigration officer in the fictional dystopian Eastern Bloc-like country of Arstotzka. You review each immigrant’s and returning citizens’ passports and paperwork according to an increasing list of changing rules stemming from a volatile political landscape. Each person, whether legitimate or not, has a story about their journey and the personal impact of not being let in. Your choices not only impact the citizens but your own standing and money for your family. You must also decide whether to uphold the government or work with organisations to establish a new one. You play for 31 days and depending on your decisions there are 20 different endings.
 

These games offer a similar experience or are about a theme that Papers, Please addresses. Also, if you want to play a game like Papers, Please but don’t have Mac, PC, PS Vita or iOS, these are a good alternative.

 

Rating: PEGI 16+, ESRB MATURE 17+

Release Date: 08/08/2013, updated in 2017

Platforms: Mac, PC, PlayStation Vita and iOS.

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle, Strategy and Turn-Based.

 

 

Change: A Homeless Survival Experience

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Simulation and Strategy

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Change is a survival game where you play a homeless person trying to make it against the odds. It's intentionally hard to do well as you explore an endless city that's different every time you play.


The Stanley Parable

Platforms: Mac, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Duration: Between half an hour and 1 and a half hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

The Stanley Parable is an interactive drama with no combat or action to speak of apart from walking around and interacting with everyday objects. You guide a silent protagonist, Stanley, while discouraging narration plays in your ear. As you discover...


Among Us

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Genres: Action, Role-Playing and Strategy

Duration: Between 1 minute and 5 minutes to play a round.

Players: You can play with 10 players in the same room and up to 10 players online.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Among Us (and the upcoming sequel Among Us 2) is a strategy game where crew-mates prepare their space ship for launch by completing tasks. However, one of the players is an impostor intent on sabotaging the ship and killing the crew. As the game...


Headliner: NoviNews

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Simulation

Duration: Between 3 hours and 5 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Headliner: NoviNews is a narrative-driven simulation game where you play as the person in charge of the headlines and stories that are released to the public. Each article you approve from your office has a direct impact of the world outside. Which news...


Beholder (Series)

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle, Role-Playing and Strategy

Duration: Between 6 hours and 8 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Beholder is a detective game where you spy on tenants in a building, discover their secrets and report violations of laws to the authorities. As the game unfolds and you see more of the controlling totalitarian state, an uneasy tension develops between...


Return of the Obra Dinn

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Duration: Between 9 hours and 13 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

You play a shipping company agent assessing what happened on board a fictional East India Company ship where all the passengers have all mysteriously died. Exploring the ship, you can revisit the moment of death for each body in order to identify each...


Invisible Inc

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and iOS

Genres: Action, Fighting, Shooting, Strategy and Turn-Based

Duration: Between 7 hours and 12 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost. In-game purchases.

Invisible Inc is a tactical adventure where you direct espionage agents in covert missions to acquire resources and support to relocate your agency's computer system to a safe haven within a limited amount of time.


Through the Darkest of Times

Platforms: Android and PC

Genres: Narrative, Role-Playing and Simulation

Duration: Between 8 hours and 10 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Through the Darkest of Times is a strategy game that conveys the sombre mood of the dark period of history between January 1933 and May 1945. With interactive drama, it tells the story and the struggles of average people living in the 3rd Reich.


Spec Ops: The Line

Platforms: PC and Xbox 360

Genres: Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Duration: Between 6 hours and 11 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Spec Ops: The Line is shooting game played in third-person where you with an emphasis on squad-based tactics, and calling in support technology and firepower. Unusually, the player needs to make moral decisions at certain points during the game that...


Photographs - Puzzle Stories

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Duration: Between 3 hours and 4 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

"Have you ever made a mistake, or hurt people you care about?" Asks the Photographs trailer. It's a puzzle game that aims much higher than to distract you while on the way to work.


Beat Cop

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Duration: Between 7 hours and 9 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Beat Cop is a police crime drama where you have been framed for murder. Back on the street, you navigate the pixilated 80’s Miami Vice world to find out who did it. Your approach and decisions matter. Will you go in with the mafia or stay straight?...


Carrion

Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PC and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Fighting, Platform, Puzzle and Simulation

Duration: Between 5 hours and 6 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Carrion is a horror game where you play the amorphous alien as well as human protagonists. This reverse-horror scenario puts you in control of an organic tentacled monster to make your way through the facility, stalking and killing humans in your path.


Zero Escape (Series)

Platforms: Nintendo 2DS/3DS, Nintendo DS, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and iOS

Genres: Action, Narrative, Puzzle and Role-Playing

Duration: Between 15 hours and 17 hours to complete.

Players: This is a single player game.

Costs: Purchase cost.

Zero Escape, is a series of adventure games that follows a group of nine individuals, who are kidnapped and held captive by a person who goes by the name "Zero", and are forced to play a game of life and death in order to escape.


 
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Papers, Please is in These Lists

In addition to the similar games listed above, which have been linked to this game specifically in the database, you may find games with a similar theme to Papers, Please in the following lists:

Face Tough Decisions

Games create virtual worlds where you can experience life from other perspectives. This can be entertaining and light-hearted, but also presents ethical scenarios that require you to think carefully about consequences.

The games selected here each place you in a challenging situation to give you a first-hand experience of what it’s like. It may be nail-biting, heart-breaking or desperate, but often, through all the trials and tribulations, there is still hope. Either way, unlike reading books or watching films about these subjects, here you are emotionally implicated in the choices you are faced with.
 

Educational Games That Are Also Good Games

These games have an educational element to them, but also offer experiences that are good games in their own right. This isn't busywork to trick you into learning, but clever and innovative ways to encounter history, physics, engineering, maths, geography and language subjects without feeling like you are in school. They also teach softer, deeper skills like long term strategy, planning, balancing systems, emotional intelligence, compassion, team-work and self-care.

Some of these games are aimed at younger players to play on their own, but others (as indicated by their PEGI ratings) are better for teenagers or played together in a family. Find some games that pique your interest, read through the details and decide how your child might benefit from playing them.
 

Wield Absolute Control

Things don’t stay put. You’re the only one keeping the ship afloat. You can’t get people to do what you tell them. The effort you spend doesn’t produce the results it deserves. Well, in these video games you get to wield complete control over people, things, situations or even whole worlds.

If games offer an escape from chaos, these games are particularly good at granting a sense of satisfying agency and power as they do that. Whether it’s ordering the perfect stock room in Wilmot’s Warehouse, organising your island in Animal Crossing, perfectly controlling the flow of traffic in Mini Motorways or even build civilisation just the way you want it in Civilization the sense of satisfaction and calm from the achievement is second to none.
 

Branching Stories With Multiple Endings

All games offer you agency. You can win or lose. You can complete them or stop at any time. But there are some games that offer a story that genuinely branches. Where you end up will be different from other players. This not only makes your actions really matter but also gives you a reason to play them again.

Setting aside games that evolve through simulation, or games where once you die it's game over, these branching narrative games tell a story that ends in a certain way because of the choices you made.
 

Commit No Violence

While a significant portion of video games focus on combat and competition, these titles offer a less aggressive way to progress and win. None of these games enable or require the player to cause harm to another living thing -- even Mario's merciless campaign to stomp on every Goomba he meets bars him from this list. Or then there's catching and selling fish in Animal Crossing that rule that one out.

Many of them are aimed at children and families, but you'll be surprised how many explore deeper, more mature themes in their narratives, or require just as much skill as a fast-paced first-person shooter. This means there's plenty of offer for parents who might lack the reflexes (or interest) to survive a round of Fortnite.

We've focused on the games you might not expect to be played non-violently here, but you can find the full list at Non-Violent Games Of the Day curated by James Batchelor.
 
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