Newspapers, Please: Westport Independent Out Soon

Catching a ride on that sweet, sweet bureaucracy-in-a-time-of-oppression gravy train, The Westport Independent [official site] has drawn inevitable comparisons to Papers, Please. Though this one involves editing a newspaper rather than manning an immigration booth, the key dilemma is whether to comply with or push back against the state. It’s been in the works for a while – including popping out an alpha demo – but now has a release date attached, and publishing support from Coffee Stain Studios, who perhaps wanted to put some of their Goat Simulator money-pile into something more cerebral than a stupid farm animal knocking things over.

It rather seems that Westport isn’t only about standing up or kowtowing to tyranny – it’s also about the broader role of the press in society. The articles which sell papers LOOK AT THESE FALLOUT 4 BOOBS are not necessarily the articles which do the most good this is a really clever game you’ve never heard of made by just one woman. A story’s placement has a dramatic effect on whether people will read it, and how important they believe its subject to be EXCLUSIVE HERE IS PRE-RENDER OF MAN WITH GUN.

Obviously Papers, Please plays a certain inspirational role, but Westport Independent is trying to go to new places too. For instance, apparently there’ll be “hundreds of articles” with which to construct our censored newspapers,” although different articles are picked for each new game rather than the whole lot being available at once. The stories within the game will be adaptive, affecting how readers feel about the watchful government which rules them, and what happens as a result – and in turn which stories turn up in your pile. Apparently even the paper’s employees will talk amongst themselves about your decisions.

Papers, Please got away with being mechanical because the very nature of what it documented was entirely mechanical – this is aiming for something much more organic, so I hope it finds the balance between routine tasks and flexibility.

With the game due out in just six days, the new trailer suggests Coffee Stain are trying to add an air of mystery to it – which is slightly odd given both the alpha demo and the original gamejam entry which prompted it have been freely available for bloody ages. This is a neat, moody trailer though, and hopefully reflects that Coffee Stain’s involvement with two-person team Double Zero One Zero’s game has added a little whizzbang.

It’s out on Steam on January 21st, as well as on your state-approved mobile distraction units. While you wait, it’s worth revising Papers, Please creator Lukas Pope’s own dystopic newspaper management sim, The Republia Times.

8 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I would love if this game had some ridiculous easter eggy endings. Like if you were censoring everything but the word peaches the whole country would eventually become full of ravenous peach hungry drones.

    Only something more clever than that. I am not the one making this thing.

    • Llewyn says:

      Or ideas derived from ISIHAC’s self-censored songs game, where censorship is used to create something far more ribald than the original.

  2. froz says:

    Well, I remember playing the alpha/demo version long time ago and to be honest I wasn’t very impressed.

    Game mechanics were not that deep and engaging, but worse was the dialogs, and in general it’s unbelievable way of portraining tyranny.

    It felt like authors didn’t really made any real research on how press works in real despotic countries and they just went with how they imagine it looks like. And I really doubt there is no material to learn from, there must be lots of scientific papers on this subject.

    For me the disonanse came from my own country’s not so far history. I live in Poland and while I don’t quite remember that much from childhood, censorship was discussed quite often over the years, with examples etc. For example one thing that was completely missing from the alpha/demo version, is that in real life is that irony or sarcasm, if done correctly, can be a way to escape censorship. Intelligent author could convey an opposite message then what it looks like on surface, to be understood by intelligent readers. And I heard very often that in Poland the whole nation became adept at reading between the lines. This was completely missing in the game I played.

    Another thing was that player was given too much control and power. In reality at least one of the journalist would be simply a hidden spy. People would not talk openly with co-workers about the things they did in the game and it would not necessarily be obvious who is reporting to authorities (though there would also be someone who did this officially and would be known). Other then that, each text would be censored, not just by author, but by censor, who could just cut it into pieces. And we are talking about quite mild despotism (at least after Stalin’s death), compared to something like North Korea.

    As I said, this is about the version from quite some time ago and maybe the game is now completely different, I have no idea. But it didn’t grab me at the time, against my expectations.

    • theslap says:

      I felt the same way. I was really looking forward to something great.

  3. X_kot says:

    Good to hear! I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. Small typo: “dystopic” in the last paragraph seems to be suffering from some dyslexia.

  4. SupahSulli says:

    Lucas Pope did a game about newspapers and corruption on his website that’s free. link to dukope.com

    • swimming anime says:

      Yeah I can’t believe there’s no mention here of republia times considering it was the precursor to P,P and a much more obvious “source of inspiration”…