by Nathan Marsh in New Trends on Wednesday 14 August 2013

After a six year war, Arstotzka has reopened its border with Kolechia, and you are an immigration official inside a crossing checkpoint. This unenviable job is the basis for Lucas Pope’s new game, where you check visas and stamp passports.

A growing influx of people are trying to resume their lives, but the political climate is volatile. Would you send away a refugee without papers if it was condemning them to certain death? A bomb went off earlier this week, what might your benefit of the doubt be risking? Would you let the worst sort of criminal through for a bribe if it would feed your child? Hundreds more people need to cross, how quickly can you make these choices?

The game’s graphics are beautifully styled to fit the 80’s and the heavy, Slavic anthem sets the tone in your dour communist motherland. The gameplay takes a moment to figure, but it is streamlined, and some unexpected twists present themselves during the workday. Ultimately, this is a game and it entertains. But it leaves you with a sense of empathy for those at the mercy of bureaucracy and war.