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Contraband Police asks: What if Papers, Please gave you a gun?

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i am a solid border agent restricted police, and I serve as the last line of defense between the great nation of Akaristan and the evil smugglers and arms dealers. I’m given some simple tools, like a folder full of rules, a flashlight, a clipboard, and perhaps easiest of all, a gun. it’s like indie darling papers pleaseExcept that I occasionally have to leave my post to lay down the law and shoot some criminals.

restricted police A little cheesy but deeply compelling, and the game is a surprise hit on Steam. It’s the 1980s, and I’m starting my new job as a border agent in a Soviet-style totalitarian state. My corrupt predecessor was fired from his job, and my new co-workers were useless. I’ve had to open the trunk and hood of a car, search for cigarettes in the front grill, and discover ceramic chickens filled with drugs. Meanwhile, my co-workers are enjoying a nice smoke break.

This is the kind of game where it’s easy to fall into a fugue state. I wake up in my teeny tiny camper to find a line of cars waiting to enter the border. I call them in, one by one, and check the driver’s papers to make sure they meet the rules. The game likes to throw me curveballs when I’m most relaxed—a guy can speed past a border post and into a graveyard, and I have to run to my official work truck and chase them down. Or a group of rebels may ambush my outpost, and my allies will come in handy when the border crossing eventually becomes a battlefield.

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The player engages in a gunfight with the smugglers at a sawmill in the Contraband Police.

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Image: CrazyRocks/Playway SA

That’s why I have the most powerful administrative tool: a gun. I start out with a humble service pistol, but I can upgrade to a shotgun, submachine gun, and sniper rifle during the course of the campaign. It goes somewhat wrong, because I find the real art of border enforcement, for a pro gamer anyway, is to run up to a guy and aggressively poke him with a pitchfork or shovel until he Do not crumble silently.

restricted police Sometimes even removes me from my post. My superiors may call upon me to assist in an urgent matter, and I may have to chase a known rebel through gloomy woods or investigate a local murder. Sometimes I have to take all the smugglers I catch to the local labor camp, where they can make up for their crime of keeping a flask in their car by mining ore without pay. It all sounds very ethical and normal!

The game’s shooting and driving mechanics are very dynamic, and while you’ll occasionally be bogged down in some sort of cover, it’s rare that you’ll lose a conflict. But it’s not even the real meat of the game; It’s a side dish to the main course of making a few border stops.

Sometimes, when I’m processing a guy’s papers, he might tell me a sad story. “Oh no, my loved one is in Arkaristan, and they are in mortal danger!” or “If you don’t let me go, a bunch of kids will die in a terrible mining accident!” Do I let them go and get fined from my superiors? It will give me a warm and fuzzy feeling, but I also have to pay all the bills here, and my Soviet superiors are not keen on me making any level of debt.

The border agent at Contraband Police checks a driver's documents, including cargo o list, passport, ID card, and more.

Image: Crazy Rocks / Playway SA

I also have to pay to upgrade all my stuff, and I don’t really make competitive wages. So, I’m encouraged to really go through everyone’s vehicles with a fine tooth comb. Scanning a guy’s car and discovering hidden goodies like cigarettes or cocaine is oddly pleasurable. Sometimes people offer me bribes, which I don’t take – it’s too easy to get caught and punished. But nobody cares if I trade contraband with other drivers. I have a nice little side hustle going on, as diversifying income streams is important. With enough work, I can upgrade my tiny camper van to a beautiful home with a tin tub for shower and some state-approved posters!

The game currently features a campaign that lasts over the course of one month of play, and the player is periodically presented with choices – do they remain loyal to the Glorious Ekaterin, or do they cast off their shackles. And choose to be an insider to rebel? Developer Crazy Rocks is working on an endless mode with more paperwork and police ranks than I would have expected. The campaign can be completed in a few sittings, and it’s punctuated by some fun choices – but I’m hungry to keep checking off forbidden items.

restricted police Available on Steam for $16.99 (discounted from $19.99). The game has since received over 4,000 reviews with an average of “very positive” and has sold over 250,000 copies.

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