Beer and Games: Papers, Please and Cigar City’s Marshal Zhukov

All hail mother Russia…I mean Arstotzka!  Papers, Please is described by its developer (yes it is just a single dude making the game) as a “Dystopian Document Thriller”.  Sounds riveting right?  Well it kind of is.  I don’t know how it happened, but Papers, Please somehow became one of the most original and addicting games I’ve played in years.  Essentially you play a border inspector between two bitter war torn states.  You are just trying to make a living and feed your family, but the politics of the stagnant war and people trying to just make a living hover around you trying to constantly intervene.  Expect to make tough decisions like “Do I accept this bribe from a man without proper documentation so I can feed my family?”  Ill get in deeper later, but expect to be stressed out quite a bit throughout Paper’s Please.



Luckily I got my boy MZ to calm the nerve.  Cigar City’s Marshal Zhukov’s Russian Imperial Stout is a staple.  It is dark, thick to the point of near syrup, rich and bitter.  Dedicated to the WWII general George Zhukov (not gonna get in any more than that since I am no history buff), this RIS couldn’t be any more russian.  Hence why I decided to take shots of it while imagining it is bitter chocolate coffee vodka.  Basically Paper’s, Please works like this.  People wanting to enter your beloved Arstotzka (the fictional country you can say is “losely” based on Soviet Russia [it is Soviet Russia {lesbihonest}]) show up at your booth, hand you their passports and various other paper work, and you make sure everything is in order.  If it is all fine and dandy you let them in and if not you deny them with a big red rejection stamp (it’s oddly satisfying).


Had to put a paper towel down because it is a known fact if MZ penetrates your wood desk you can’t get it out because it is pure syzurrp.

Things start out simple.  All you have to do is check a passport and make sure it doesn’t have fraudulent information (incorrect picture, expired, etc).  Seems pretty simple right?  Well things start to get a little more complex very quickly.  Just to let you know, by the end of the game you are cross checking tons of documents (your desk becomes a mess), just to make sure this person is safe to enter.  You have to make sure the person entering has all the information on their passport valid, has a proper work permit, has a entry pass w/ valid info, isn’t on a the mugshot list of most wanted, has a cross identification slip which matches their personal appearance, and of course you have to make sure all these documents don’t contradict themselves.  Sometimes it took me up to 4-5 minutes (i was under the influence of my beloved Zhukov though…) to finally be sure everything was in order.



And you don’t want to take your time like that.  Your growing family at home relies on your income, and income is dependent on your accuracy and efficiency.  Paper’s Please rides that grey morality line better than any other game I’ve played.  The best part of Paper’s, Please is the mystery.  You never know who next will enter your booth and what their story is.  And as mentioned previously, you may end up making unethical decisions in order to ensure your family’s health.  Do you align with a radical terrorist organization knowing they will take care of your family?  I just wrote about 5 other questions similar to the one previously, but i then deleted them because I don’t want to spoil anything.  Paper’s, Please proposes constant moral decisions with no real good/bad decision.  And dare I say it does it in a fashion better than Fallout or Spec Ops: The Line [side note, yeah Spec Ops: The Line is secretly a really good game which makes you make tough decisions.  So yes I did just list it in the same sentence as Fallout].  Yes, I dare.


All heil the beautfiul Arstotzka

So i solo-ed a bottle of MZ tonight, all via shot glass intakes.  Even with the intake control via the size of the glassware, it still hit me like a train.  Marshall Zhukov is not an “entry level stout”.  It is a thick, syrupy 11% ABV elixer.  I’ve had my fare share of stouts (my liver is rolling his eyes), but MZ is in a realm of its own.  Being it is 11% ABV with no barrel aging, the booze does penetrate through quite strongly.  Not in a burning fashion, more by the fact that none of the chocolate & coffee adjuncts come in as the primary flavor.  Pure bitter stout is the primary flavor.  It isn’t like Alesmith’s Speedway Stout, which is somehow 12% ABV.  Speedway Stout masks this high alcohol through its rich coffee flavor. I would put dark bitter chocolate as the forefront flavor of MZ, but even that isn’t an accurate description.  I’ve had Marshal Zhukov Penultimate Push & Final Push, and those are much more like the traditional high ABV stouts since they have strong coffee at the forefront.  And I believe Hunahpu’s work’s so well because MZ is such a traditional base; so adding chocolate, cinnamon, chilli peppers and vanilla to it doesn’t displace any of the flavors present since the coffee & chocolate at the base don’t penetrate to hard forward.


My Zhukov ’13 Haul.

Again this is an amped up russian imperial stout at its finest.  I felt right at home drinking this while playing the role of a bitter border agent.  By the time I finished the bottle (the game is 3-4 hours by the way w/ 20 different endings if you are so inclined to repeat play [i just watched them on YouTube]), I was at the point where eveytime I denied an entrant I would russian accent curse them away.  Seriously though, for being basically a TSA simulator Paper’s Please is pretty fun.  Actually it is really fun.  While I believe my previously reviewed game Gone Home won’t actually resignate with everyone, I think Paper’s Please will.  It is a game everyone can get into if you convince them to give it a try.  It is basically a puzzle game with a very strong narrative wrapped around it.  Marshal Zhukov is not something everyone will get into.  If you are into craft beer and high ABV stouts, get Marshal Zhukov asap.  You won’t be disappointed.  For everyone else I would be wary because you may spit it out in disgust.  That is by no means an insult to MZ.  It is just the reality of the situation.


Paper’s Please: 9.5

Marshal Zhukov: 9.5

–damn that is a solid night.


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Author: Chris Fadeley View all posts by
I am UF alumni and a computer engineer. I know virtually every useless fact about videogames ever. I like computers and potatoes.

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