The Average Gamer

Papers, Please Tips, Tricks and Common Problems

Welcome to Grestin Border Checkpoint. You have won lottery. Here are some tips to get you through those difficult first days on the job. Cause no trouble.

  • Refer to the rulebook. Do it often. You’ll need to check Arstotzkan regions, foreign issuing cities, validation stamps and much, much more. Alternatively, you could print out this handy cheat sheet created by the fine people from the GiantBomb forums.

    Papers Please Cheat Sheet GiantBomb Forums

  • Get organised. The clock only starts when you click on the loudspeaker, so prepare your desk before opening for business. Anything people gave you can be dumped out of the way on the left-hand side of your counter. Place papers for checking in a systematic layout on your desk. See the picture below for my preferred layout: passport on the right, other documents on the left. I start with the entry permit first, since I can scan the info while my prospective entrant is speaking. It’s much easier than checking the transcript later.
    Papers Please - Multiple Names
  • Check everything. All those bits of information? They’ll be important eventually. When the ID cards start showing up, don’t forget to check height against the back wall and weight against the tiny scales readout next to your rulebook. You will be saving Arstotzkan lives. My main pitfalls were sex (you have to judge this against the person’s face) and expiry dates. And invalid issuing cities. Also validation stamps.
  • Check front and back. When you scan someone, don’t forget to flip over the picture. There’s a “No weapons or contraband” rule for these infractions, which took me a while to find.
  • Relax. You won’t catch everyone. Be glad of those 2 free passes you get every day before the penalties roll in. Sometimes, you simply won’t yet have the tools to find problems.
  • But be diligent. The game has 20 endings. Sometimes those free passes will allow you to explore what happens if you let this person in, or keep that one out.
  • Upgrade your booth when you can. The first few upgrades provide keyboard shortcuts which were usefully time-saving. The later one, being able to double-click for inspection wasn’t really worth it and neither are the rulebook tabs, if you keep your book open to the index page.

Common problems:

  • Paperwork is missing: There’s always a rule for this. Simply highlight the empty counter and the relevant rule in your rulebook.
  • I missed what they said or I know it was wrong: Grab the audio transcript from the middle of your counter. It sits under that speaker-looking thing between your rulebook and your official bulletin. My mouse cursor is hovering over it in the screenshot above.
  • How do I use the powder? No spoilers, but you’ll know this if it happens in your game. I haven’t figured it out myself. Let me know in the comments if you know what to do here.

If you have any more questions, or run into a problem I haven’t address, leave a comment below. I’ll answer whatever I can.

Glory to Arstotzka!


  1. onegirlgaming

    20th Aug, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I found that having the daily bulletin open on the ‘Wanted’ page and shoved over to the right as far as it goes was quite handy when you have to start checking them.

    That and not burying the gun locker keys under piles of paperwork, though it might just be me that gets in a flap every time a terrorist attacks.

    • Debbie Timmins (Weefz)

      22nd Aug, 2013 at 11:42 am

      Oooh, yes. I did that too. Then I always forgot to check against the pictures :\

  2. Stephanie

    22nd Sep, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I don’t understand the third booth upgrade. I feel a bit stoopid, what do they mean by double click for inspection?

    P.s. I stayed up to 1am playing this game last night. I find it really absorbing.

    • Debbie Timmins (Weefz)

      23rd Sep, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      It’s so easy to think “just a couple more minutes” and stamp passports for an extra hour, isn’t it?

      The double-click thing is a bit crap, really. It just means that instead of clicking on the Inspect button in the bottom right corner, then clicking on the thing you want to inspect, you can double-click directly on, e.g. the passport photo and it will highlight that straight away.

  3. lexrem

    26th Oct, 2013 at 9:22 am

    “How do I use the powder?”
    open and than press square with powder over passport.

  4. Stu

    3rd Jan, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    It took me a short to work out the powder too. It unfolds twice, then you put over the top of the passport and press down on it. Hand the passport back and the person dies as they walk off. Hope that helps!