Film adaptations of video games are often kept to the larger franchises, such as Assassin’s Creed or the upcoming Tomb Raider starring Alicia Vikander. With that in mind, video game fans may have been surprised to hear that 2013’s indie darling Papers, Please was being translated into a short film by Russian director Nikita Ordynskiy.
Nevertheless, news of this somewhat left-field choice for an adaptation has been met with plenty of cautious optimism from fans of Lucas Pope’s game. A puzzle title that told a story of paranoia and survival in a totalitarian country, those familiar with the original game were intrigued to see how it could transfer into the world of film.
Now Papers, Please: The Short Film has received its full trailer, which can be watched above. Based on the trailer, this short film certainly seems to match up well with the tone of the game, particularly with the bleak atmosphere of the fictional Eastern block country of Artstozka. Should Papers, Please: The Short Film manage to convey the themes of the original game well in its runtime, then fans are bound to be very happy.
Whether the short is as impactful as the game, however, is still up in the air. The title tasked players with controlling a border crossing into Artstozka, turning away those that did not meet the required criteria. A lot of the power of the original game came from the player’s own decisions, and when – if ever – to break to rules to help people enter the country. It will be intriguing to see if the short film manages to channel that same level of friction.
Either way, it’s still interesting to see a game such as this as a film. Video game adaptations rarely take on such a serious tone, and when they do it often to their detriment, as seen with Assassin’s Creed. Indeed, even Michael Fassbender admitted that Assassin’s Creed took itself too seriously.
Should Papers, Please be successful, it could hopefully open the door to other interesting adaptations. After all, there are plenty of video game movies in the works, but there is lots of potential within the independent games scene for more.