papers, please

I must say, though, if Lucas Pope isn't currently looking into ways to port Papers, Please to a tablet device, then he bloody well should be. The gameplay's almost entirely click-drag, absolutely tailor-made for touchscreens. What would be even better would be a platform with a dual screen arrangement, like the DS or Wii U, so you could look up from sorting papers to peer suspiciously at the fidgeting pleb trying to look innocent on the other side of the glass.

You know, now that I come to write all this down, while it's still the larger context that makes the game good, I think there's also an intoxicating appeal in being in a position of petty authority. We've all had to jump through some sodding hoops to move to a new apartment, so it's strangely satisfying to get to be the one sending everyone back for more proof of income documents.

So all I can say is "More Papers, Please, please". It's got a decent skeleton of gameplay down that can be easily transferred into new settings with slightly different rules, and there's enough flexibility to explore new mechanics within the same model. So with that in mind, I'd like to make a suggestion for a possible sequel to Papers, Please: The same thing, but set in Hell.

Specifically you'd be in the role Midas fills in the Divine Comedy; the judge at the entrance to Hell who decides what circle every incoming damned soul will be condemned to. So you'll still have the gameplay where you check for discrepancies in the paperwork - watching out for forgeries produced by Orpheus-types trying to sneak into the underworld to rescue their loved ones, the selfish pricks - but you'd also have to make the call on which circle every poor bugger ends up on.

This will start off fairly straightforward - shagged the neighbour's wife, you go to Lust, died of a heart attack while straining under the weight of your salad plate at Sizzler, you go to Gluttony - but people lead complex lives and commit complex mixtures of sins, so you'll have to make a call on which sin is the most prevalent when more than one is in evidence. Like, what if someone died from eating junk food out of the orifice of a loved one? Is that a Lust or Gluttony situation? Personally, I'd think Lust was the prevalent one there, 'cos I doubt that that was a serving method intended for enhancing the experience of eating the food.

And you could also have the more and more infuriating bureaucratic rules over time. Like maybe particular circles would be closed on particular days and you'd need to come up with broad interpretations of sins to justify damning people elsewhere. So maybe Lust is closed but we've got someone who shagged their neighbour's wife. Well, that's a betrayal of the neighbour's trust, isn't it? There was a place for Betrayal, wasn't there? It's been a while.

This game will not only continue the grand tradition of Papers, Please, but will also provide a much-needed juxtaposition to the last time Dante's Inferno was adapted into video game form. Maybe fix Midas' image a wee bit by making him less of a giant snake monster getting his face split open on a wheel. Maybe there could be a funny joke where Dante shows up at the booth with forged papers and then he tries to kill you by slamming your face down on the pen holders on your desk until you politely ask him to leave.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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