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28 Great Games Like Papers, Please

Our experts have spent time searching for great games similar to Papers, Please. We also offer games selected by matching genre and age rating.
 

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.

Unfortunately, Papers, Please is not available on Android, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S. However, we recommend the following games that offer a similar experience or theme, and at a lower age rating:

DetailsGame Details

Content Rating: PEGI 16+

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

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS Vita and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle and Turn-Based

Accessibility: 19 features

Developer: @Dukope

Players: This is a single player game

Costs: Purchase cost

Hand Picked Games Like Papers, Please

These are our hand-picked games similar to Papers, Please. We don't use automatic matching, instead, we identify games that are good to play if you have enjoyed Papers, Please, or as younger rated alternatives for players not ready for PEGI 16+ or ESRB MATURE 17+ games. These selections also include games that offer a different experience but address a similar theme or topic.
 

Among Us

Content Rating: PEGI 7+

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Release Date: 16/11/2018, updated in 2020

Platforms: Android, PC, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Action and Role-Playing

Accessibility: 29 features

Developer: @InnerSlothDevs

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

Among Us 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 progresses in real time the impostor...

Orwell's Animal Farm

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12+

Release Date: 10/12/2020

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Simulation and Strategy

Accessibility: 15 features

Developer: @Nerial

Players: This is a single player game

Orwell's Animal Farm is an adventure game with a decent slice of strategy, all brought to life with beautiful hand-drawn storybook art. As the name suggests, the game is based on the 1945 literary classic Animal Farm by George Orwell, which uses a farm...

Return of the Obra Dinn

Content Rating: PEGI 16+

Skill Rating: 14+ year-olds

Release Date: 18/10/2019

Platforms: PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Accessibility: 21 features

Developer: @Dukope

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Photographs - Puzzle Stories

Content Rating: PEGI 18+

Release Date: 03/04/2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Narrative and Puzzle

Developer: @LucaRedwood

Players: This is a single player game

"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.

Through the Darkest of Times

Content Rating: PEGI 16+

Release Date: 27/05/2020

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Role-Playing and Simulation

Accessibility: 15 features

Developer: @Paintbucket_de

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Beyond: Two Souls

Content Rating: PEGI 16+

Release Date: 08/10/2013, updated in 2019

Platforms: PC, PS3 and PS4

Genres:

Developer: @Quantic_Dream

Players: This is a single player game

Beyond: Two Souls is from the same developer as Detroit: Become Human and Heavy Rain. Although not a series, they follow a similar style and approach. They provide a filmic interactive experience of a story that branches in substantial ways depending on...

Carrion

Content Rating: PEGI 18+

Release Date: 23/07/2020

Platforms: Mac, PC, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Action, Fighting, Platform, Puzzle and Simulation

Accessibility: 12 features

Developer: @Kroskiewicz

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Little Misfortune

Content Rating: PEGI 16+

Release Date: 18/11/2019

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Accessibility: 16 features

Developer: @KillMondayGames

Players: This is a single player game

Little Misfortune is a dark adventure where you play a small girl called, Misfortune, who, guided by a voice in her head, seeks the prize of eternal happiness for her mother. It's played side-on and unfolds a narrative about the girl's family as you...

Do Not Feed the Monkeys

Content Rating: PEGI 16+

Release Date: 23/10/2018

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Puzzle and Strategy

Developer: @Fictiorama

Players: This is a single player game

Do Not Feed the Monkeys is an adventure game where you sit at a computer and spy on live video feeds of various events and characters. Your job is to gather information about "the monkeys" while also looking after your character's health and apartment...

Cart Life

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 7+

Release Date: 25/04/2019

Price: Free

Platforms: PC

Genres: Narrative, Role-Playing and Simulation

Developer: @RichardHofmeier

Players: This is a single player game

Cart Life is a simulation game where you play one of three street vendors. You attempt to run their shop whilst looking after their health, interests, and families. It has simple visuals, but depicts the realities of the thin-end of life.

Democratic Socialism Simulator

Content Rating: PEGI 16+

Release Date: 20/02/2020

Platforms: Android, PC and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @MolleIndustria

Players: This is a single player game

Democratic Socialism Simulator is a puzzle game where you run for office and then run a country. It offers a flow of questions with a yes or no response. Each answer has consequences in the minds of the voters and the prosperity of the country. It's an...

Headliner: NoviNews

Content Rating: PEGI 12+

Release Date: 05/10/2019

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Simulation

Accessibility: 18 features

Developer: @UnboundCreation

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Suzerain

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12+

Release Date: 04/12/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Role-Playing, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @TorporGames

Players: This is a single player game

Suzerain is a role-play strategy game where you are the president of the fictional country, Sordland. By choosing conversations and life path you use your skills of persuasion and political values to reform your country after the downfall of a dictator.

Beat Cop

Content Rating: PEGI 18+

Release Date: 27/11/2018

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Accessibility: 5 features

Developer: @PxCrow

Players: This is a single player game

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?...

Invisible Inc

Content Rating: PEGI 16+

Release Date: 12/05/2015, updated in 2020

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and iOS

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

Developer: @Klei

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Bad News

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 12+

Release Date: 01/12/2019

Price: Free

Platforms: Web

Genres: Narrative, Role-Playing and Simulation

Developer: @GetBadNews

Players: This is a single player game

Bad News is a role-play game about building a news media organisation. It's designed to highlight bias in the news by putting you in charge of a series of decisions to build a profitable company. All you do is answer questions, but as you do the...

Change: A Homeless Survival Experience

Content Rating: Not rated by PEGI

Release Date: 01/05/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Simulation and Strategy

Developer: @DelveInteractiv

Players: This is a single player game

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

Content Rating: Not rated by PEGI

Release Date: 31/07/2011

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4 and Xbox One

Genres: Adventure, Narrative and Puzzle

Accessibility: 21 features

Developer: @HelloCakebread

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Not For Broadcast

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 18+

Release Date: 30/01/2020

Platforms: Mac and PC

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle and Simulation

Developer: @TinyBuild

Players: This is a single player game

Not For Broadcast is a narrative puzzle game where you control the National Nightly News just as a radical government comes to power. By deciding the angles, adverts, images and censoring in the show you control what the people see and determine...

Beholder (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 16+

Release Date: 09/11/2016

Platforms: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle, Role-Playing and Strategy

Developer: @Beholder_Game

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Orwell

Content Rating: PEGI 12+

Release Date: 27/10/2016

Platforms: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Genres: Puzzle and Role-Playing

Developer: @OsmoticStudios

Players: This is a single player game

Orwell is narrative game where you play a fictional research using a surveillance program called Orwell. Through a series of episodes you are tasked with using Orwell to help solve mysteries like the bombing of a public plaza. To do this you trawl...

Harmony Square

Expected Content Rating: PEGI 16+

Release Date: 06/11/2020

Price: Free

Platforms: Web

Genres: Adventure and Narrative

Developer: @wijzijnDROG

Players: This is a single player game

Harmony Square is a text-based adventure game about fake news. You live in idyllic Harmony Square and are hired as Chief Disinformation Officer whose job is to disturb the square’s peace and quiet by fomenting internal divisions and pitting its...

Spec Ops: The Line

Content Rating: PEGI 18+

Release Date: 29/06/2012

Platforms: PC and Xbox 360

Genres: Fighting, Narrative and Shooting

Developer: @YAGERdev

Players: This is a single player game

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...

Zero Escape (Series)

Content Rating: PEGI 18+

Release Date: 10/12/2009, updated in 2016

Platforms: 3DS and 2DS, DS, PC, PS Vita, PS4 and iOS

Genres: Action, Narrative, Puzzle and Role-Playing

Developer: @SpikeChunsoft_e

Players: This is a single player game

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.

Unmaze

Content Rating: PEGI 12+

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Release Date: 21/06/2021

Platforms: Android and iOS

Genres: Adventure, Narrative, Puzzle and Simulation

Developer: @ARTE_Interactif

Players: This is a single player game

Unmaze is a mix of puzzle game and graphic novel. Inspired by the myth of the Minotaur, you help Asterion and Theseus to guide them out of the maze. However, you can only help one at a time. Using the phone's camera the game lets you help Asterion when...

Branches of Power

Content Rating: PEGI 3+

Skill Rating: 10-14 year-olds

Release Date: 29/05/2020

Price: Free

Platforms: Android, Web and iOS

Genres: Puzzle and Role-Playing

Developer: @iCivics

Players: This is a single player game

Branches of Power is a strategy game where you control all three branches of US government. You run the country with the ability to introduce presidential agendas, write legislation, sign or veto bills, and even judge passed laws. It's a lot to deal...

Immigration Nation

Content Rating: PEGI 3+

Skill Rating: 8-12 year-olds

Release Date: 31/07/2018, updated in 2020

Price: Free

Platforms: Android, Web and iOS

Genres: Narrative, Puzzle and Turn-Based

Developer: @iCivics

Players: This is a single player game

Immigration Nation is a strategy game about guiding newcomers to the country along their path to citizenship. You are in charge of Immigration Bay with an in-flow of boats, each with their own story to understand.

Games Like Papers, Please Based on Genre

These are games of a similar genre mix to Papers, Please. This includes games from the Turn-Based, Puzzle and Narrative genres. We pick out games of a similar PEGI rating to further hone these generated suggestions.
 

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.
 
Qomp
Gris
PEGI Rating 7+ for Gris
Eco
PEGI Rating 7+ for Eco

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.
 
Ord
PEGI Rating 3+ for Ord
Lake
Pyre
PEGI Rating 7+ for Pyre

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.
 
Ico
PEGI Rating 7+ for Ico
Hoa
Kine
PEGI Rating 3+ for Kine
Pode
PEGI Rating 3+ for Pode
Roki
PEGI Rating 12+ for Roki
Gris
PEGI Rating 7+ for Gris
Eco
PEGI Rating 7+ for Eco
Portal
PEGI Rating 12+ for Portal
Fez
PEGI Rating 3+ for Fez

Develop Critical Thinking

Being able to discern between reliable sources and unreliable sources of information is an important skill for children to develop. This starts with questions of trust and authority but then leads to decisions about how we use and share information ourselves.

We've worked with Childnet International on this list of games that help children and young people experiment with what they should trust and the potential unintended consequences. Childnet International is an online safety charity working with others to help make the internet a great and safe place for children and young people. They believe that the internet is a wonderfully positive tool for children and young people. Childnet are also part of the UK Safer Internet Centre and organise Safer Internet Day in the UK every February.

Some of the games, like Thousand Threads, either put them in a world where what people say and believe impacts the other characters. Other games, like Headliner, put the player in charge of information so they can see the consequences first hand of its misuse. There are even games, like Papers Please, that enable the player to police who is and isn't allowed access to information or even access to the country.

As Childnet write, "Critical Thinking is an important skill that we need in order to navigate the internet safely and find the latest news headlines or facts and information. With the amount of content that is online sometimes it’s quite easy to be reading something that is inaccurate without realising."

These games each provide different ways for players to develop critical thinking. They provide a space where trust and authority can be experienced first hand, and where the negative and positive consequences of how we handle these topics play out.
 

Rearrange Your Mental Furniture

We are used to books, films and radio programs challenging our assumptions on subjects. Adam Curtis, Louis Theroux and David Attenborough have powerfully used film to change perspectives and values.

Less well known is how many video games tread a similar furrow. These are games that not only tackle difficult subjects, but get beneath the usual binary perspectives to create new ways of thinking about these themes.
 

Get Children Developing Civic Identity

Success in video games is often framed at the personal level: the last person standing in Fortnite, achieving high viewership on a Twitch stream, the best player in Rocket League. However, many video games choose to focus players on a wider view, on working for the greater good of the world in which they live.

Games can develop a deep sense of civic identity. Civics is the study of the rights and obligations of citizens in society. Our civic identity comes from situating oneself within a larger group, often committing oneself to public action. Games give children a chance to try out taking public action within society for the greater good.

This list of games offers space for players to develop a sense of civic identity. We put it together with Barry Joseph, who has worked in many contexts to empower children to achieve this. Whether at Global Kids, Inc, where he helped youth to acquire leadership skills and engage in efforts to address global issues through the production of digital media, in founding Games For Change, where he worked with video games as a form of youth media, or at Girl Scouts of the U.S.A, where he piloted digital engagement for girls around the country.

There are many mainstream games, not created specifically for education, that are a great way to engage with civic identity. This includes games that invite players to take control of civic space, like Alba, One Hour, One Life, Civilization, Sim City, Thousand Threads and Pine.

Then there are games where civic space is presented as dysfunctional and in need of repair, like Papers Please, Not For Broadcast, Do Not Feed The Monkeys, Orwell. Other games let you take civic space in questionable or futile directions, like Headliner: NoviNews, Beholder, Bad News and Photographs Puzzle Stories.

Finally, there are some games specifically created to teach children about civics. The always-growing collection of games from iCivics explore U.S. Government functions, including Argument Wars, Branchespho of Power and Immigration Nation. There is the novel Civics! An American Musical that teaches US History through creating a Hamilton-style musical. Digital Compass teaches digital citizenship through an interactive story and MP For A Week that teaches children about being an MP in UK Parliament. Finally, the Democratic Socialism Simulator is a puzzle game where you run for office and then run a country.
 

Games from Taming Gaming Book

When we wrote the Taming Gaming book we packed the second half with full colour game ‘recipes’ as a resource for parents and families. They are grouped in categories depending on the style of game you are looking for, whether you want to play on your own, or with your family and friends.

The Family Gaming Database grew out of the book. At first it was just going to be a way to search the 60 or so games in the book. With 1000’s of parents soon using the database it became clear we should grow it to cover more games. So, today we have 1306 games.

Here are all the games from the book:

Games for non-gaming grown-ups

These games are perfect if you have never played one before. They open the door to the gaming world for non-gaming parents and carers.

Nurture child-like imagination

These games are for children under seven years old who will, with some help, discover activities they want to try that will expand their imaginations, while establishing the role of your guidance and engagement as part of the gaming world as they grow up.

Nourish Youthful Ambition

As children get older, they develop stronger ideas of what they want to play. Friends at school and YouTube stars create popular gaming fabs for the latest titles. The games suggested here go beyond the usual suspects.

Laugh at Silliness

Video games have their roots in fun and play. This makes them an excellent way to forget the worries of the day and dive into some silly fun together. The games on this list have been selected because they get players doing absurd activities and chuckling together.

Inhabit Another World

The games in this list invite you to spend time in spaces that have a sense of place, life and character.

Compete on the Couch

Raucous, unbounded, exuberant all-age, competitive fun is something video games are known for. These games can play a bit-part in raising children to be magnanimous in victory and generous in defeat.

Work Together to Thrive

Play is more fun when it’s shared. Along with team work the games on this list use the fact that the players are all sitting next to each other. The fun is often as much about the conversations (and arguments) that happen in the room as what’s happening on the screen.

Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes

While many games include characters to interact with, some are specifically designed to make relationships a central element. These games offer a unique way to think deeply about how we relate to each other to the games people play.

Wake up Your Emotions

Video games are known for high-octane, adrenaline fuelled entertainment, but there are many that address the players emotions as much as their dexterity. The games in the following list create emotionally rich spaces in which to explore scenarios with feelings rather than facts.

Matinee Fisticuffs and Shoot-outs

Sometimes you just want to play the hero. These games are violent and include shooting but as with B-movies and 1980’s TV series, it’s as much about the quips, characters and fantasy settings as it is about the killing.

Face Tough Decisions

Games create virtual worlds where you can experience life from another perspective. This can be lighthearted but also presents ethical scenarios that require you to think carefully about consequences. These games each place you in a challenging situation to give you a first hand experience of what it’s like.

Solve a Mystery

Like a good crime drama or whodunnit, solving mysteries and puzzles is a good way to engage in a story. The following games present you with a mysterious scenario to be solved. Whether with direct puzzles, locations to investigate or crime scenarios to deduce, they offer a unique first-hand sleuthing challenge.

 

Games for Change Awards

Games for Change is a charity that aims to empower game creators and social innovators to drive real-world change using games and immersive media. These might be games that inspire youth to explore civic issues, learn science skills or look after mental health.

Each year Change Awards celebrates games for social impact and learning through their awards. All awards are competitive, and submissions are reviewed through a rigorous evaluation process by expert jurors. Games that win demonstrate creativity and embrace experimentation to break conventions of form or concept in a manner that may pave new ways for the sector.

This includes:
  • Best Gameplay: Recognizes games that demonstrate highly compelling, polished and engaging gameplay and which incorporate gameplay mechanics that align with and reinforce the intended impact goals of the project.
  • Best Learning: Recognizes games that offer meaningful engagement around intended learning objectives, and successfully balance the ‘learning’ with fun, engaging gameplay.
  • Significant Impact: Recognizes games that target specific social issues with proven outcomes/actions.

 


Image of the cover of the hardback edition of the Taming Gaming book  by Andy Robertson List of logos of the supporters of the Family Video Game Database  Playability Initiative  AskAboutGames  Parent Zone  Game Well Thank you for using our resource, supported by AskAboutGames, ParentZone and PlayAbility Initiative. We are editorially independent, written by parents for parents, but welcome sponsorship, partnership and suggestions. Email our editor for details on these opportunities.

The information on this database is designed to support and complement the in-depth discussion and advice about video game "addiction", violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. If you have any concerns or questions in these areas, email our editor who is quick to respond or can arrange for a one-to-one conversation.

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