The timeline of the story mode of Papers, Please spans across 31 playable days with 20 different endings. The story is mostly scripted and many of the events and encounters are triggered regardless of the player's earlier actions. Endings, however, are determined by daily decisions and interactions made by the player.
If you are looking for a walkthrough, proceed to day 1. The rest of this article is about how the game is structured.
Structure of a day
Each day consists of four stages, all of which can contain scripted elements.
- Each day opens with a view of the front page of The Truth of Arstotzka. Some of the headlines change according to the player's earlier actions.
- After viewing the headlines, the player ("the inspector") walks into his booth, reviews the Official Bulletin and new orders, and prepares for the day's work. Scripted events in this stage consist of visits by different government authorities.
- The next stage begins when the inspector calls in the first entrant. This starts the in-game clock which runs from 6am to 6pm. The minimum real-time duration of each day varies from 3 to 8 minutes. During this time, the inspector inspects entrants' documents and uses a sparse array of tools to determine whether the papers are in order. Some of the encounters are scripted and always happen at the same point the same way (e.g. Messof Anegovych is always the third entrant on day 12, has the same portrait and says the same things), some of them are partially randomized (e.g. names of Antegrian husband and wife), but most of the encounters are not story-related and contain randomly generated entrants with randomly generated documents. This work day may extend past 6pm as scripted events on these days will not occur unless a certain number of entrants has been processed.
- When time runs out or a scripted event ends a day, the final stage of the day begins. This is where the inspector pays bills and allocates credits. Scripted events in this phase can include family events and gifts from strangers.
This list contains the main events of the each day. Refer to separate articles on each day for the list of all scripted events and their order.
Day 1, November 23
- Inspector's first day on the job, and the opening day of the checkpoint. Entrants express their joy, frustration, and even veiled threats at the border's opening.
Day 2, November 24
- The border is now open to foreigners as well as Arstotzkan citizens.
- A terrorist jumps the wall and throws a grenade, killing the lone border guard and cutting the day short.
Day 3, November 25
Day 4, November 26
- Entrants must now show an entry permit, which replaces the ticket, or their Arstotzkan ID card.
- The Impor token can be unlocked.
- First of many chances to unlock the Obristan token.
Day 5, November 27
- The inspector is now authorized to detain any suspicious entrants.
- A suspected murderer, who can be arrested, shows up at the border.
- The Antegria token can be unlocked.
Day 6, November 28
- A new document adds to the inspector's headaches when screening immigrant workers.
- The inspector finds out about human trafficking at the border.
- A Kolechian suicide bombs the checkpoint, killing three guards.
Day 7, November 29
- A search scanner is installed to fight smuggling and annoy Kolechians, and immediately yields results.
Day 8, November 30
- Diplomatic visitors are allowed easier entry with only a passport and their Diplomatic Authorization.
- The first encounter with EZIC and one of their messengers.
Day 9, December 1
- A border guard makes a deal with the inspector. The more people they detain, the more money the two will make.
- The inspector assists (or hinders) a secret agent from the Ministry of Information.
Day 10, December 2
- The Ministry of Admission divisional authority — the inspector's boss — visits the checkpoint for a performance review.
Day 11, December 3
- Jorji Costava finally gets his papers in order.
- The first of the two scheduled EZIC agents arrives at the checkpoint.
- A strange man brings 1000 credits at the end of the day.
Day 12, December 4
- An investigator from the Ministry of Information shows up at the beginning of the day, indicating that the Arstotzkan government is aware of EZIC.
- The task needed to unlock the Arstotzka token begins.
- A strange man brings 2000 credits at the end of the day, if the inspector burned the previous day's gift.
- A suicide bomber bombs the checkpoint, killing three guards.
Day 13, December 5
- Stricter document requirements are instituted to prevent smugglers and suicide bombers from entering.
- If the inspector accepted EZIC's gift on day 11 or 12, the neighbors notice and report it to the government. The inspector is then stripped of all savings.
- Filipe Hasse shows up and gives the inspector an Arstotzka Arskickers pennant in an attempt to be allowed entry without proper paperwork.
Day 14, December 6
- The second of the two scheduled EZIC agents arrives at the checkpoint. If admitted, she will stop any ongoing investigation of the inspector's finances.
Day 15, December 7
- If the inspector is under investigation, the M.O.I. investigator arrests the inspector, ending the game.
- An entrant drops a bomb onto the inspector's desk.
Day 16, December 8
- Due to staffing cuts, the inspector must now defend the checkpoint against terrorists himself. To this end, he is armed with a single tranquilizer rifle with three darts. Glory to Arstotzka.
- The Arstotzka token can be unlocked if all prerequisites have been met.
- A terrorist attack cuts the day short.
Day 17, December 9
- A new guard is stationed at the checkpoint and introduces himself.
- EZIC is concerned about the people behind the attack on day 16 and sends an agent to investigate.
Day 18, December 10
- The bureaucratic load on the inspector's shoulders reaches a new level as he is required to provide a reason for every denial.
- The inspector may choose to buy a gift for his son's birthday, which is tomorrow.
Day 19, December 11
- Entry from Impor is blocked after Imporian trade embargo.
- Inspector receives a crayon masterpiece from his son if he bought the boy a gift the previous day.
Day 20, December 12
- Second review by the M.O.A. director. He will dock the inspector's pay if he dislikes any decorations on the wall.
- EZIC wants the inspector to poison their enemy.
Day 21, December 13
- The series of events leading to the Republia token starts here.
- A motorcyclist shoots a guard and rides towards the booth. The day is cut short due to this attack.
- The inspector's sister is arrested, and the inspector has the option to adopt her daughter for 40 credits.
Day 22, December 14
Day 23, December 15
- A man in red appears in the queue. EZIC wants him dead.
- The Republian token can be unlocked if the correct choices were made on day 21.
Day 24, December 16
Day 25, December 17
- The Kolechian token can be unlocked.
- The boss's girlfriend shows up at the border. Denying her entry may anger him, and detaining her will end the game the next morning.
Day 26, December 18
- Sergiu's long-lost love arrives.
- A coordinated terrorist attack cuts the day short. Sergiu may be killed on this day.
Day 27, December 19
- A Kolechian diplomat is called to Arstotzka to discuss the attack on day 26. EZIC has other plans for him.
- Sergiu's last day on Grestin Checkpoint.
Day 28, December 20
- Sergiu is transferred to another post.
- Arstotzka expands passport confiscation to all Arstotzkan passports.
- The day is cut short by a terrorist attack by a suicide bomber on a motorbike.
Day 29, December 21
- M. Vonel pays the inspector a visit to inform him about ongoing audits. The audit is scheduled for the morning of Day 32, or December 24.
- A vengeful father seeks revenge, on Simon Wens, for the murder of his daughter.
- The option to escape from Arstotzka permanently is presented to the inspector and his family.
Day 30, December 22
- Third and final inspection by the M.O.A. director. If he spots unauthorized decorations on the wall again, he will have the inspector arrested and the game will end.
- The inspector's wife finds an old family photo and gives it to the inspector to bring to work.
- The United Federation token can be unlocked.
Day 31, December 23
- EZIC attacks the border, intending to bring the wall down.