A short film has just been released based on Lucas Pope’s 2013 indie hit Papers, Please. Available now for free on both YouTube and Steam, it adapts the game’s story in a 10 minute run time, potentially turning out as the best video game film adaption to date.
The film, as well as the game, are told through the perspective of an inspector, guarding the border of the fictional fascist nation of Arstotzka and deciding who is allowed entry into the country as they present their papers. The inspector’s job is not as simple as presented, as he (and the player in the game version) must try to cope with the please of those trying to cross and their own conscience as they make the call on whether or not someone is allowed entry into the country.
Having to balance the emotional toll of the job, morality, and the threat to the inspector’s own life and the lives of his family, the game tells a complex narrative about the effects or authoritarian oppression and what it can feel like to be a worker drone on the lowest level of an unfathomable nightmare. For this reason, Papers, Please was nominated and received numerous awards at the time of its release, making a movie adaption all but inevitable.
However, the movie diverges somewhat from the original story of the game. Though changes are to be expected with any adaption, the way the film’s plot proceeds seems to be somewhat antithetical to the message and nuance of the game. It would be hard to say more without spoilers, so to fully understand the differences, one would need to watch the film for themselves. And at only ten minutes with incredible production values, that’s hardly a steep price to pay.