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Sounds and music

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Papers, Please has a total of 84 sound effects that comprise of sounds made by different items in the booth as well as ambient noise and characters’ speech. The game's soundtrack consists of three songs, The Arstotzkan anthem, the victory theme, and the death theme.


Arstotzkan anthemEdit

Papers, Please - Main Theme01:43

Papers, Please - Main Theme

Featured in the main menu and the official trailer, the Arstotzkan anthem was made on a Yamaha MOX6 synthesizer[1] and was published on YouTube on January 14, 2013.[2] The sheet music is available at a link published by Lucas Pope on Twitter.[3] The song starts with a slow march rhythm made by bass saxhorns to represent the really slow flow of entrants in line and how they are tired and depressed because of the last 6 years of war. The anthem goes faster and faster with keyboards, pizzicato strings and synth. In the end, we have an explosion of all the instruments with the addition of military band ones, such as drums and trumpets to transmit the feelings of tension, the terrorist attacks and the apparent calm that turns into an uncontrollable rage against Arstotzka.

Victory themeEdit

Papers Please - Victory Theme02:38

Papers Please - Victory Theme

The victory theme is a light-hearted song that plays during the cutscenes of endings 18 to 20.

Death themeEdit

Papers Please - Death Theme01:34

Papers Please - Death Theme

The death theme that plays during the cutscenes of endings 1 to 17. It starts out getting louder, like a song on a radio. The song is surprisingly upbeat at first but still sounds like a song that would be played on state broadcast radio. It then gets lower to emphasize the sad fate of the inspector. The song then returns to its upbeat form before the end.

Sound effectsEdit

Most of the effects are based on open-source sounds from and All sound effects can be found as .wav files in the game directory. In the Steam version, default paths are:

  • Windows: Program Files (x86)/Steam/Steamapps/Common/Papersplease/assets/sounds
  • MacOS: ~/Library/Application Support/Steam/SteamApps/common/


OSX say

Entrants' voice reproduced using the command say in MacOS Terminal.

The voices for characters were done with the MacOS (then OS X) command line tool say, a built-in speech synthesis manager that converts text to audible speech. The resulting voices were then edited in Audacity and GarageBand.[4]

The strings listed below were used.[5] All sounds can be reproduced on MacOS by typing commands listed under each entry into Terminal:

  • inspector: ehua?
    say [[pbas 45]]ehua?[[slnc 500]]
  • entrant: ihe
    say [[rate 200]][[pbas 50]]ihe[[slnc 500]]
  • guards: gish-tot
    say [[pbas 40]]gish[[rate 300]][[pbas 50]]tot[[slnc 1000]]
  • suicide bomber: lekrafezuh!
    say [[pbas 70]]lekrafezuh! [[slnc 1000]]

Booth effectsEdit

  • Typewriter sound when text appears – there are four effects for this, all from the same source
  • Entrants enter and exit – both effects are edited from the same source
  • Entrant breathes in and out – both effects are edited from the same source
  • A fog horn signaling that the day is done – source
  • Clock reaching the end of the day (usually 6pm) – edited from two sound clips: source 1, source 2
  • Arriving to the booth at the beginning of the day – edited from two sound clips source 1, source 2
  • Poison is applied – source

Buttons and stampsEdit

  • A button (fingerprint, detain, etc.) becomes available – source
  • Pushing and releasing a button – source
  • Opening and closing the shutter – source
  • Opening and closing the stamp bar – edited from two sound clips: source 1, source 2
  • Pushing down and releasing a stamp – source
  • After the detain button has been pushed – edited from two sound clips: source 1, source 2

Document handlingEdit

  • Dragging a document – there are three effects for this, all edited from two sound clips: source 1, source 2
  • Releasing a document – there are three effects for this, all edited from two sound clips: source 1 (same as source 2 above), source 2
  • Turning a page – there are three effects for this, all edited from the same source
  • Turning a page (metallic effect) – source
  • Dragging, dropping, and releasing a metallic item (keys, tokens) – there are seven effects for these, all edited from the same source
  • Paper being stamped – edited from three sound clips: source 1, source 2, source 3

Printer sounds (fingerprints, citations)Edit

  • Printer taking in a paper – source
  • Paper printing out – source
  • Page torn from the printer – source
  • Photo printing out – source

Inspection modeEdit





The bomb on day 15Edit



  • General booth ambience – source


  2. dev log post on Jan 14, 2013

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