There are two game modes in Papers, Please. Story mode is available from the start, and endless mode is unlocked by entering a five-digit code (62131) given after reaching one of the twenty endings in story mode.
Story mode consists of a 31-day campaign, with 20 different endings. An unnamed Arstotzkan is chosen via a job lottery to work as a border inspector. He has to earn enough money to cover rent, food, and heating bills each day, and medicine (if needed) in order to keep his family healthy.
In addition to taking care of his family, he has to make some tough choices, as a revolution is stirring in Arstotzka, under the careful planning of a mysterious organization.
Each day, the inspector will encounter a number of procedurally generated entrants as well as scripted events, such as entrants with unique dialog, documents, or items. The inspector's daily salary is based on performance. Each entrant that is handled according to immigration protocol is worth 5 credits; failing to follow regulations will lead to a citation.
Story mode can be played with easy mode set on in the preferences. This will give the inspector 20 credits at the end of each day but does not have any other effect on the game. The daily bonus is called easy mode crutch in the end-of-day screen.
Endless mode allows you to play one of three game types with an endless flow of procedurally generated entrants: Timed, Perfection, or Endurance. Each game type has a different scoring system. You can also choose from four different rule sets for any game type.
Endless mode is unlocked by entering a five-digit code, which is unlocked after reaching ending 20 in story mode. The code is 62131, and it is shared among all copies of the game and is not generated separately for each player or playthrough.
Endless mode can be seen as the semi-epilogue to story mode, specifically ending 20, which says to report back to duty on January 1st, 1983, and endless mode will always be on or after this date.
Endless game modes
|Timed||Process as many travelers as possible in 10 minutes|
|Perfection||Game over at first citation. Earn dwindling points.||
|Endurance||Play until balance goes negative. Avoid penalties.||
A rule set determines which border checkpoint rules are in effect, which documents are required for entrants, and which day it is (January 1–4, 1983). All four rule sets are available for all three game types in the endless mode.
|Icon and date||Features in use||Rules in effect||Documents in use|
|Jan 1, 1983|
|Jan 2, 1983||as above||as above, and
||as above, and|
|Jan 3, 1983||as above, and
||as above, and
||as above, and|
|Jan 4, 1983||as above||as above, but
||as above, but|