Papers, Please (Vita) Walkthrough

2. General hints and tips

The walkthrough will take you through the entire game without too much trouble, but here are some brief points about surviving the game and getting your trophies.

  • One full playthrough and most of a second playthrough and a couple of uses of Chapter Select are required to get everything. You should aim for one of the two major endings in each playthrough.
  • There are many ending variations, and only a few of them are linked to trophies. So make sure you know what you're aiming for so that you don't waste a playthrough on a trophy-less ending.
  • All trophies are technically miss-able as they are all dependent on choices you make. However Chapter Select makes the majority of them pretty easy to mop up afterwards (except the two major endings, which require several choices across the majority of your career.
  • There are no trophies related to keeping your family alive. You must have at least one family member alive at the end of each day to avoid an early game over. It's perfectly possible to get all trophies while keeping all family members alive (including the one you pick up on the way) with careful money management and by avoiding citations. However if you're struggling to stay afloat feel free to let someone get sick and die.
  • You should definitely upgrade on the three opportunities you get to do so -- these provide decent shortcuts that speed up your investigation process. Pressing [cn_t] to access the discrepancy investigator is particularly crucial once you have more paperwork to look at, and the rule book bookmarks is pretty essential to so that you can quickly "reset" your rule book between entrants to the booth.
  • If you feel overwhelmed with information in the first few days, don't worry -- it becomes second nature after a few days.
  • Consider putting Easy Mode on - I don't believe it has any significant gameplay effect but it gives you a daily $20 buffer, which will mitigate any costly mistakes made each day.

Game layout and gameplay loop

The game takes place over 31 days, starting with your first day on the job (well, technically 32 -- if you go for one particular ending you will have a performance review of sorts on the 32nd day, but there's no interaction). At the beginning of the day you see a newspaper front page which you can mostly ignore, especially if you're following the walkthrough.

Papers Please

The main game screen scrolls a fair distance vertically, and slightly horizontally (you won't really need to use the latter at all). Here is the top half of the game screen:

Papers Please

The box in the top-centre of the screen is the inside of your immigration inspection booth -- it only appears when you call someone up to the booth. Otherwise this top part of the screen is a birds-eye view of the area outside the booth, with the immigration queue on the left and the area behind the border wall taking up the rest of the right side -- your border guards are on the far right. For the majority of the game your only reaction with the birds-eye view is clicking the loudspeaker on top of the black booth to call a new entrant to the booth; however later into the game you will be entrusted with some weaponry to take out terrorists, in which case you will tap on certain people to eliminate them (more on that when we get to it in the main walkthrough).

Papers Please

Directly below the entrant is the panel on which they will pass you their documentation. While it's on the greenish panel directly below them, the documents will be closed; drag them down into the larger dark area, your interior desk, to open them up and assess them. The brown box to the left of the document postal point contains a scale that weighs the entrant and a small slip of paper that, when pulled, reveals the transcript of your conversation with this entrant so far. The brown box to the right contains a clock which tells you the current time. A typical work day runs from 6am to 6pm in game time, which is 8 minutes in real time. Above the clock is a counter -- this counter increases by one every time someone approaches your window. I mean everyone -- even if a guard or other official comes in, they count on that ticker as an entrant. This is important - a lot of the walkthrough relies on knowing which numbered entrant to perform an action with on a particular day, so make sure to keep an eye on that counter. Next to the clock is the day's date, which is useful both for checking documentation but also to keep track of which day you are on in the walkthrough.

Papers Please

Nestled just to the right of the conversation transcript machine is your rule book. You should move this book into the left corner of your work area every day and leave it there. If necessary you can keep half of it out of sight to give you more space to look at documents, but you need it open and available at all times. This rule book is constantly updated with all of the conditions an entrant must meet in order to come into the country. It also has each country's specific information as well as examples of accurate, authentic documents. Each day you will get a bulletin containing any new rules in place and, later on, three pictures of wanted criminals. For the first part of the game you can fling this document straight back up onto the postal panel, where it will rest next to the clock. Once you have to start looking out for wanted criminals though, you need this bulletin open to the criminal picture page. I like to nudge it as far over to the right side of the screen as possible, so just the criminal photos are showing. With the rule book over on the left and the criminal list on the right, you can use the rest of the dark workspace to arrange documentation so that it is as simultaneously visible as possible. This is the real "difficulty" of the game; managing your workspace so you can check documents efficiently and accurately.

When documents are passed through you need to check their consistency and their accuracy. Consistency refers to any information that is shared across one or more of the applicant's documents, such as their name, passport number or date of birth -- and also that their written documents match what they have said to you in the initial round of questions. Accuracy means that the documents follow the rules found in the rulebook, as well as matching country information. You'll also have to confirm that they even have all of the right documents in the first place.

If you think you've found a discrepancy, you should officially identify it so that the entrant can be questioned about it. To identify a discrepancy, hit the red triangular button in the bottom right corner of your screen. Part of the early challenge is adjusting the documents' layout so that you can see all the pieces you need to "match" and the triangle button, which is why the upgrade to actually just hit [cn_t] to start the matching process is so crucial.

Once you've hit the discrepancy button, the screen darkens and every tap you make on the screen highlights an element of evidence. Tap two pieces of evidence to compare them, and this will result in either "No Correlation" (the two data points have no relation to each other), "Matching Data" (the two data points are consistent and accurate) or "Discrepancy Found" (the two data points reveal a problem). Note that "data points" can be two pieces of data on the entrant's documents, but also any rule, image or sentence in your rule book. So if the entrant's passport shows an incorrect issuing city, you will need to hit that city on their passport and the corresponding country's list of approved cities in your rulebook. If a piece of documentation is missing entirely, you will need to tap the empty space on the document postal point and the relevant rule in your rulebook stating that this must be present. You can also tap the scale if the entrant's weight doesn't match, or today's date if there's a problem with a date in the documentation. If you find a discrepancy the screen will highlight the microphone to the side of the conversation transcript. Hit that and the inspector will automatically ask the entrant a relevant question. At this point you may get the option to Detain, Search or Fingerprint the entrant depending on the discrepancy found, but we'll discuss that more as it happens in the main walkthrough.

Otherwise, once you have checked documents against each other for consistency and the rulebook for accuracy, it's time to decide whether to approve or deny entry into the country. Tap the arrow on the right side of your main checking desk to pull out a drawer with two stamps. Line up the entrant's passport with either the Denied or Approved stamp to stamp it. Then you need to flick all of the documentation back up to the entrant to either dismiss them or let them through. (There are a few other features of the desk that only turn up much later on in the game -- they'll be covered when they turn up in the walkthrough).

Unless certain individuals cause trouble, the entrant will leave the booth and either walk off into their new country or stalk off back to where they came from beyond the queue. Within a few seconds of the entrant leaving the booth, you will know if you made a mistake as a pink slip will arrive telling you what you did wrong. The first two of these citations do not have a penalty, but after that the penalty will increase. The next two will cost 5 credits apiece, and then the penalty increases by 5 credits with each citation (so 0, 0, 5, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25...etc) . Citation penalties reset each day, so you should ideally get no more than 2 each day. If you go over 4 you might want to consider a reset, though it all depends on your financial situation -- there's no way to get fired from citations, but you will lose your job if you go into debt.

When the clock hits 6pm, the queue will normally disappear though you will always be able to finish off the inspection of your current booth visitor. However on days with special events (terrorist attacks, or key booth visitors) the game may artificially pause the end-of-day sequence, allowing you to reach the predetermined entrant count to trigger the event. Typically you should be aiming for 8 to 9 entrants per day, particularly once you've got into the swing of checking things and have your shortcuts handy.

Papers Please

When you leave the booth, you are taken to an end-of-day summary. A couple of sentences summarise the day and point out any upcoming events or changes at home. The centre of the screen describes your wage plus deductions - citation penalties, cost of food, heat and rent, and any miscellaneous money due or received due to story events. You can stop paying your food or heat bill if you need to save some cash, but this will affect that health of your family members over time, as listed on the right side. They can get sick (meaning a medicine cost in the future) or die. Remember, you need at least one of them alive to avoid a trophy-less premature ending. Once you choose to "SLEEP", the cycle starts over.

Don't worry if you're not taking all of this in - the game is pretty good at explaining each element to you and introducing new obstacles gradually. Plus, there's really not much penalty for making small mistakes at the beginning of the game, and citation penalties are generally pretty lenient unless you really lose concentration. Take plenty of breaks, just like they tell you in a real desk job.

On to the walkthrough!

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