One of my favorite games of recent years, Papers, Please (previously), just appeared on iPad. It'll be a good fit for the platform, and I hope this means more people will get to play it.
You play as a border agent for a fictional, grim Soviet Bloc-inspired nation. In the mundane and dehumanizing task of processing paperwork, you discover an unexpectedly complex landscape of decisions and provocations. You end up thinking a lot about The State, and the problematic, dehumanizing nature of bureaucracy itself.
Is it gauche to quote from my own review in the New Statesman from last year?
Just from a mechanical standpoint, balancing a complex set of components and variables is surprisingly engaging, a constant test of your acuity. The game has a delightful tactility to it: stamping feels so weighty and wet you can nearly smell the ink, and papers shuffle with excellent brittleness. As days pass in the game, the demands increase -- it soon becomes clear it’s nearly-impossible to process everyone in the same methodical way, without mistakes. You start losing money. Your son gets sick. And that’s when Papers, Please starts getting truly interesting.
The iPad version didn't launch without wrinkles, though. Apple initially rejected the game for 'pornographic content' -- the bleak, utterly unsexy nude backscatter photos you look at when you're screening for contraband. Creator Lucas Pope just put some underpants on there so that players who don't like the nudity have an option, and things are okay.
Apple says it was all a misunderstanding on its part -- but it's worth pointing out the company has a history of finding reasons to disallow uncomfortable political games from its App Store.
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