Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Review
Knights of Pen and Paper – Introduction
Knights of Pen and Paper is a game designed to take you back to a time when a group of likely slightly smelly individuals would sit around a table, getting engrossed in a story of their own creation. By lovingly combining table top RPG with the gameplay devices of late eighties/early nineties, Behold Studios have created a game that is both nostalgic and fresh, seriously fun and, at times, frustratingly true to its source.
Rose Tinted Gameboard
The first thing you’ll need to do, when you start playing Knights of Pen and Paper, is you’ll need to put together your party. You can choose from a variety of local nerds, from hardcore heavy metal fans to local store owners, and you’ll need to give each of them a class. You’ll be able to have up to five members in your party as you progress, but to begin with you’re limited to three.
Everything you’d expect is there: warriors, clerics, mages… You’ll draw up your character card and then the game master – yes, there’s a game master that talks you through your adventure – will start the story.
What you do then is rather up to you. You can explore the world laid out for you, you can set yourself certain quests, you can collect money and fight monsters. The battle system is turn-based, which allows for a degree of strategy. There’s also a story of sorts which you can play thorough, and which will garner you the most experience as quickly as possible, but you probably won’t end up playing for the story itself (which is typical fantasy fare).
Whether you play through the story or set your own path, you’ll be met with a variety of hilarious dialogue which pretty successfully sums up the table top RPG experience. For want of a better word, it’s cute to see as the characters chat to one another, as they react to the game master’s ideas, descriptions and twists.
A Roll of the Dice
The table top RPG motif goes deeper than that though. Almost everything you do will be at the mercy of a dice roll. You’ll come across random encounters, do more damage, rest easier at night, all based on how lucky you are. Like something out of Risk, sometimes everything will go your way and sometimes it won’t.
And even then, that’s not the end of it. You can head out of the RPG world for a while and purchase snacks for each of your players. These snacks will have game-world effects, usually towards stats, although there are a few that can, for instance, increase the amount of enemies you can fight at a time.
All this depends on how much gold you can accrue. Gold is rewarded after battle and after the completion of quests. You can also buy it with real money. The odd thing is, there doesn’t really seem to be much point in opening your wallet and paying for the bonus gold: you’re never going to be so far away from being able to purchase an item that you’d feel shelling out an extra £3.99 was necessary, but I suppose having the option there will be great for those that don’t want to grind.
And boy, is there grinding.
You won’t just be able to play through the story. Doing extra quests, fighting extra monsters is a mandatory part of the Knights of Pen and Paper experience. Some will find this incredibly frustrating, but traditionalists will feel right at home fighting endless monsters in return for a little extra character growth. There’s enough variety in the tasks presented that, with the right mindset, it won’t feel like grinding… but it still is.
Although parts of the game are definitely taken from early console RPGs – features that were used to simplify things that could be done in a table top RPG but not in a video game – the most obvious gaming influence comes in a visual form.
Using sprite art and chiptune music is pretty much par for the course in indie RPGs, and while there’s nothing wrong with the way Knights of Pen and Paper handles it, there’s also nothing that will especially stand out about it either.
Knights of Pen and Paper is a great, original take on the RPG genre and is definitely a game worthy of picking up. Its shortcomings are actually shortcomings of the genre, shortcomings of table top gaming, and will be easily ignored by those that love it best.
For anybody put off by the grinding, or by the visual style, watch out for the inevitable 50% and 75% off Steam sales – at £4 it’ll be a steal, anything less and you’ll feel bad for waiting so long.