With great power comes enormous responsibility, and Papers Please fans had to learn this rule the hard way.

Welcome to a list of games that offer a similarly bitter-sweet gameplay experience!

Papers, Please provoke reflections about immigration, bureaucracy, and the harsh truths of dystopian or totalitarian realities. Playing as an immigration officer in the fictional communist country of Arstotzka, our job is to review potential immigrants’ papers to decide whether to let them in. But this simple mechanic comes with a catch, as any wrong decision can heavily impact the protagonist’s family or even result in their death due to government penalties.

These moral dilemmas intertwine with the sense of tension, creating claustrophobic sensations encouraging us to question every decision. The alternatives listed below share similar themes, gameplay, and settings, so you can freely continue exploring these dystopian worlds depending entirely on your choices.

Do Not Feed The Monkeys

Release date:2018-10-23
Genre:Indie
Developer:Fictiorama Studios

Join the shady organization to work as a professional stalker! While watching the monkeys (random people) through the surveillance cameras, you can do whatever you want except feed them (interact with them). Good luck!

Watch the monkeys through cameras to see what they do in their private (not necessarily) lives. Soon, you’ll know more, but be careful because this is where observers often start to interfere with their targets. Avoid feeding monkeys, which can result in quite tragic consequences! Or take a risk and try to help them, as your morality tells you. What will you choose?

Key features
  • Play a morally questionable game like Papers Please
  • Do not under any circumstances feed the monkeys
  • Make decisions to see a different ending with each playthrough
  • Pay rent, eat, drink, work, and stay healthy at the same time

Return of the Obra Dinn

Release date:2018-10-18
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Lucas Pope

Developed by the creator of Papers Please, Return of the Obra Dinn tells the story of a ship that sailed from London to Asia six years earlier but disappeared without a trace. Now it returned, devastated and without a single living soul on board.

Play as an insurance agent investigating this extraordinary mystery. Explore the ship, examine documents, and discover bits of the story to determine what happened to the crew and passengers. Obra Dinn oozes the disturbing atmosphere of the best detective novels known to humanity!

Key features
  • Learn the story of an abandoned ship
  • Explore it and examine visible clues
  • Explain the mystery by putting all the pieces together
  • Enjoy the gloomy audiovisual setting of this unique puzzle game

Not Tonight

Release date:2018-08-17
Genre:Adventure
Developer:PanicBarn

An alternative history of Europe sees Brexit going completely wrong when right-wing parties take over the power. As a foreigner, you are waiting for deportation in a relocation camp – but you can still decide what to do about the situation.

Play as a Person of European Heritage #112 to work as a bouncer in local clubs. Like in Papers Please, your job is to check IDs and decide who to let in. But time flies, and you must choose whether to oppose or blend in and maybe get permission to stay in the UK.

Key features
  • See the alternative version of Brexit
  • Play as a bouncer and check IDs
  • Make decisions affecting your life and the fate of the entire country
  • Survive this politically-oriented reality by completing daily chores

Ministry Of Broadcast

Release date:2020-01-30
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Ministry of Broadcast Studios

Inspired by Orwell’s “1984” and modern TV shows, this dystopian platformer tells the story of a red-headed man separated from his family by a massive wall dividing the entire country.

As it turns out, the only way to return to the family is to participate in the regime’s The Wall Show. While crossing the following levels filled with deadly traps and puzzles, the hero discovers details about the surrounding world and the rules of this game.

Key features
  • See what happens when a massive wall divides the entire country
  • Participate in an exceptionally dangerous TV show
  • Explore the levels and avoid deadly traps
  • Solve puzzles and observe your surroundings

No Umbrellas Allowed

Release date:2021-09-03
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Hoochoo Game Studios

Rescued by a man named Darcy, you get a job at his second-hand shop in Ajik City. But you don’t recall anything from before, not even your real name, and now, as Bob, discover the truth or focus on work.

Buy cheaper and sell higher to earn a living in a massive city. Learn how to recognize the value of specific items to negotiate prices and maintain a good reputation at the same time. You’ll soon discover this city seems strange, but that’s probably just an impression.

Key features
  • Work for Darcy in his second-hand shop
  • Discover each item’s value and buy cheaper
  • Maintain a perfect reputation to sell more
  • Explore the city and determine who you are

Human Resource Machine

Release date:2015-10-15
Genre:Indie
Developer:Tomorrow Corporation

Pick this game if you love solving math puzzles in a depressingly corporate setting! And hurry, because the machines are almost here to take your job.

Play as one of the little office workers to climb the career ladder in a massive corporation. Human Resource Machine is a puzzle game requiring programming and counting basics to advance to the next level, meaning one year of work. Solve the puzzles and see what it’s all about!

Key features
  • Play as a little office worker and advance to the upper floors of a massive corporation
  • Learn the basics of programming by solving challenging puzzles
  • Enjoy a unique audiovisual setting
  • Beware of machines trying to steal your job

Black Border

Release date:2021-01-01
Genre:Indie
Developer:Bitzooma Game Studio

Like in Papers, Please, you will be tasked with checking passports and goods passengers want to bring to the country. But which side will you choose?

Image credit: Bitzooma Game Studio

Remain loyal to the current establishment or start cooperating with mysterious Opposition Groups. Examine documents, communicate with organizations, buy or sell prohibited products, and decide between duty and decent money.

Key features
  • Play as a border inspector to perform document inspections
  • Stay true to the country’s rules or break them all
  • Trade banned items on the black market
  • Work with Opposition Groups to see what happens

The Westport Independent

Release date:2016-01-21
Genre:Indie
Developer:Double Zero One Zero

Become the editor of the last independent newspaper in a totalitarian country. Anything you leave in the paper about the rebels and the current government may affect public opinion – prepare for the consequences!

Image credit: Double Zero One Zero

Remaining neutral in such turbulent circumstances may do more harm than good. Choose the side and try to smuggle preferred information to see how the story unfolds. But remember, printing your version generates reactions from colleagues, friends, public figures, and others – many of them turn out negative.

Key features
  • Become the editor of the last independent newspaper in a totalitarian country
  • Censor texts as you like and deal with consequences
  • Observe the dynamically changing situation in the office and the country
  • Enjoy the grim visuals resembling your favorite Papers, Please

Beholder

Release date:2016-11-09
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Warm Lamp Games

Play as Carl, the manager of an apartment building, tasked by a totalitarian government with stalking his tenants. No one can threaten the absolute power of this country!

Watch, eavesdrop, search, and report to satisfy your superiors! But this task will not be that simple. You will meet many unique characters walking the line between legal and not. Choose what to do with the acquired knowledge and whether you can live with the consequences of your ultimate decisions. Should you show some kindness or become a cog in the machine of totalitarian control?

Check our review of Beholder

Key features
  • Play as the manager of an apartment building
  • Surveil your tenants to complete this political game
  • Make choices to deal with their complex consequences
  • See multiple endings depending solely on your decisions

Life in a dystopia is hard! The endless choices, consequences, serving the oppressive government, surveillance, and bureaucracy cause some pretty gloomy thoughts. But somehow, people still love this theme, seeking it out in books, movies, and video games.

What does that say about human nature? Are we obsessed with death and tragic political scenarios? Perhaps, but let’s not forget that games like Papers contain a glimmer of hope strongly related to some sense of empowerment in the face of oppressive power.