Picture yourself around a table with a few friends playing through a journey of epic proportions as you roll the dice to learn your fates. This is the magic that ,a href=”/tag/knights-pen-paper/” target=”_blank”>Knights of Pen and Paper is looking to capture. This turn-by-turn RPG dives into the most classic form of the format by deriving its style from Dungeons and Dragons. You control not only the members of the order of the table but also their dungeon master, coming up with the quests and the encounters along the path while also dealing with those same encounters to create an ebb and flow and its own unique style of pacing. The question left to be answered is did the crew over at Behold Studios roll a critical hit or a critical failure with their ode to the tabletop games of old?
Knights of Pen and Paper starts off simple as can be at a little place called Default Village. You find out about the king being cursed and you rush to his aid. In the aftermath, you and your party go on a hunt for the culprit of said crime. Although the story is not the most genre-defining story, the glory is all in the detail with the dungeon master getting to define the minor intricacies. From the jump, the party is gathered together to start their quest. Many options can be chosen among various pre-created characters with an appropriate set of classes, creating a customizable experience, while also learning and mastering the many diverse elements of gameplay along the way. There are many combinations of classes, enemies to fight, and quests to conquer. There are also many different paths to choose to forge the journey and the road ahead, so how will this story play out?
What I Liked:
Taking it from the Source– Within five minutes of booting up the game, it is impossible not to notice that the game is heavily inspired from the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Everything from dice rolls to verbiage used to explain the story feel right at home with the world of D&D. Due to this, everything quickly makes sense for those who have a background in it. Also being able to see the party at the table with the dungeon master while the choices and actions play out behind in the background is very enthralling.
It’s All In the Details– Controlling the dungeon master in conjunction with the party proves to be a pretty awesome design choice. Going through the journey,there are many quests to face from having to get specific drops or clear so many enemies in an area. However, thanks to having control of how those quest play out from getting to choose what enemies and how many of them are there at a time to deal with, it means the dungeon master can take things methodically or go guns blazing. The choices really allow more control to dive in deeply and become invested in a uniquely personal journey through the game.
There is a Fourth Wall– This game has fantastic writing, from witty references to real life to the players breaking character to go use the bathroom. It really does a good job at recreating the table top experience and letting the player get immersed in what is happening. Some of the coolest moments in the game are when the characters and enemies break the fourth wall to invite the player back into the world. All in all, it is very well done.
What I Didn’t Like:
Can I Get the Grinder?– In classic turn-by-turn actions, it also brought back one of its more basic flaws: naturally finding yourself in parts of the game that require grinding and leveling characters up to continue or to be successful. Albeit there are areas that are clearly the place to go for said grinding, the progression and scaling make this a lot of work when the desire is to just continue the story. At times it can feel like padding but it doesn’t completely kill the experience.
This Song Sounds Familiar– While sporting some very charming 16-bit visuals and a music composition to match, there isn’t a lot of music here. The same catchy tunes can be heard in very predictable scenarios such as time spent in every village and battle, with some choice exceptions. Some of these have an earworm effect and get stuck in your head in times of action while others are just forgettable. Especially with some of the optional fights in this game and the funnier and cooler moments, they could have benefited so much from more composition being placed into the game.
Knights of Pen and Paper beckons to the days of old, and in this way is extremely charming. It gives the feeling of control in a way that most RPGs just don’t. It made me want to go dust off my old D&D manual and call up a couple of friends to get the old campaign running strong – but still misses the mark with some of the more grind-heavy areas. Overall, I think this game has quite a bit going for it and is worth a play. If you love old school tabletop games or maybe just are curious what some of the buzz is about, then definitely check this one out.
Score: Highly Recommended
Knights of Pen & Paper +1 Deluxier Edition was developed by Behold Studios and published by Plug in Digital. The game was released on May 30th, 2018 for $14.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.