Knights of Pen and Paper +1

For when you feel like a quick sit down at the D&D table with friends for a good long adventure, when you have neither the time nor the friends nor the dice.

A retro trip through every trope a role playing gamer could ask for, Knights of Pen and Paper is a great little time sink for iOS, Android, Windows & Mac that gives players a quick but fulfilling RPG experience. The high tradition of many classic turn-based RPGs are faithfully represented here, lovingly wrapped in countless pop culture references, most of which are more than just window dressing. Clearly crafted with the mobile player in mind, Knights of Pen and Paper is the general sum of RPGs from their origins up to today that contains more than enough content to match its $10 price tag.

Knights of Pen and Paper dismantles the fourth wall down to a small background. You play not as the brave knight, but as the jock or nerd or little brother sitting down to play the brave knight (or the wizard or cleric or rogue; all the standard classes are there with extras like hunter and barbarian left for you to unlock). Your dungeon master leads you forward into a standard fantasy world, tongue firmly in cheek.

There, you’ll find the usual challenges of any given RPG. Rescue this, collect that, defeat the monsters and escort missions too. In fact, the whole narrative pretty much shoots from the hip. Part of me wishes they had tried a bit more and brought the worlds together or provided a bit more depth, but the The gameplay is balanced, the menus are simple and the combat is deep enough to be worthy of its inspirators while still maintaining the quick pace meant for a mobile game. It’s nothing hardcore, but it gets the job done.

The usual world map appears, though battles are never random. In fact, you never face anything random. The player chooses what to fight, and how many of them. This again removes a bit of the challenge that comes along with the territory, but it does serve the main purpose of the game, which seems to be delivering a custom RPG experience a mobile gaming speeds.

A Geeky Palace of RPG Staples

While the fantasy characters you play are very customizable, with skills to level and gear to find, but what stands out is the customization available in the “real world”. You can spend gold to unlock a different dungeon master, each of which gives the party a different boost. The “Karate Rat” (Splinter from TMNT) gives +1 Attack, “Yoga” (Yoda from Star Wars) gives +10% Health, Dr. Cientist (Doc Brown from Back to the Future) gives +5 Magic and Regen 1 MP. So it goes for furniture in the room, items on the table, the door, the table, the walls, the rug. Just about everything in the room is just as important to pimping out your characters as the gear you give them. You can buy snacks and drinks too, which provide temporary boosts to party stats like extra experience, life steal, etc.

All of this can be bought with gold, which you’ll earn for killing monsters and doing quests as usual. An element rarely seen in other indie games in a microtransaction system, which isn’t too out of place here. You can buy tons of gold on the cheap, $5 for 10,000 gold which means you’ll never have to worry about gold every again. As this is a single player experience purposefully built to be quick, it’s certainly not pay-to-win or pay-to-play. The microtransactions simply allow those with the means to access additional bonuses more quickly; nothing that breaks the game outright.

All Hail the Tradition of Dice!

The great array of numbers that RPG aficionados love are here, though I didn’t see as many as I would have liked. This lacking holds true to the standards in most video game RPGs, but this is Knights of Pen and Paper, not Knights of Final Fantasy. The dice rolls are mostly done behind the scenes, though you do get to roll a d20 for travel and rest in the field. Miss chance is not present, which would otherwise provide some welcome elements of chance into the strategies, but the fast-paced nature of play leaves enough tactical decisions to carry the game. Initiative is rolled, but we’re not privy to the rolls, just the results.

Oftentimes you can tap, tap, tap (or click, click, click) your way through battles, but more often than not you’ll need (and want) to take your time making sure that the tank uses his tanking abilities, the healer heals, the damage dealers deal damage. An even faster pace is encouraged by certain items while remove your ability to decide anything for your characters, to the tune of 30% extra experience. The game’s autosaving at every chance allows you to simply back out at a moment’s notice (when you’re not in battle), which is again very suitable for a mobile game.

The sum of these parts is a very enjoyable RPG experience with enough depth for any fan, while the pace, content and story are kept fast and light. It’s easy to pick up and put back down, for a quick two minute session or hours at a time.

Our Rating
For when you feel like a quick sit down at the D&D table with friends for a good long adventure, when you have neither the time nor the friends nor the dice.

Featured Correspondent

Joel Cornell... what can you do? Joel has written about everything, but he groks gaming above all. He's been featured on Level42, C&G Monthly, Examiner, and GameSkinny.

Published Jun. 25th 2013

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