The community clamoring for a fan-inspired Dungeons and Dragons simulator is probably fairly slim, but that didn't stop Behold Studios from releasing this fantastic title, and it shouldn't stop users from checking it out. Despite its strong D&D ties, Knights of Pen & Paper is a fantastic Role Playing Game (RPG) filled with humor, beautiful pixel art, and some of the cleanest gameplay mechanics seen on the mobile platform. Regardless of your affinity for Dungeons and Dragons, Knights of Pen and Paper is a title that every RPG fan should own.
Developer: Behold Studios
Platforms: iOS, Android, (PC/Mac version in development)
Knights of Pen & Paper isn't a run-of-the-mill fantasy game. Users won't merely be assuming the role of a character in a fantasy world. No, instead users are role-playing the role-players playing the fantasy. Yes, it's incredibly meta, and the game is all too happy to poke fun at its own ridiculousness.
Users are able to choose characters from a wide range of humorous stereotypes including a nerd, a jock, and even a punk rocker. Each character is imbued with its own unique attributes that both fit the role of that character and help add to the game's strategy. From there, each character will be able to select a class to role-play. Classes span the basic RPG archetypes: damage-oriented rogues, stout warriors, and lifesaving healers. The system is rather simple to grasp, but also offers nice bit of depth allowing users to customize their parties matching different characters with classes for optimal synergy.
Keeping in line with the game's meta take on D&D, players will also assume the role of the Dungeon Master. As the DM, players will be able to decide which quest the party goes on and how many enemies the party must face. The self-regulating mechanic is perfect for mobile play, as it allows players to attune the game to their respective moods. If users are playing while doing something else like watching TV, they can take it slow only facing a few enemies; however, if they want more of a challenge more enemies can be added, making each encounter a fight for their very lives.
The game's solid turn-based mechanics also mesh perfectly with the mobile platform. Knights of Pen & Paper plays similarly to the old turn-based RPGs seen on the SNES or PlayStation. Characters are slotted into a move order (according to their stats), and on their respective turns each character can cast one move. It's basic on its surface, but with the added equipment and leveling system the combat quickly ramps up with each character fitting into tightly niched roles to help form a well-rounded party.
While all of this is great, what really sells the game is its charm. Knights of Pen & Paper is an RPG made for lovers of the genre. The writing is simply fantastic, offering self-aware wit that is sure to keep players enthralled throughout their play. The game is littered with puns and tropes at every turn, even seen with the starting area affectionately dubbed "Default Town". The characters themselves get into the act as they'll often exclaim funny one-liners, such as a disfavored "WTF!!!" when the DM pits them up against an unfair challenge.
The game also offers an incredible amount of replay ability thanks to its cornucopia of unlocks. As users continue to play they gain access to new characters and classes, and they can even decorate their gaming room to provide additional stat bonuses. Between the crisp gameplay mechanics, numerous unlocks, and fantastic writing Knights of Pen and Paper has something for everyone.
Perhaps the only real downside to Knights of Pen and Paper is its micro-transactions. Typically micro purchases are an unwelcome addition to any game, and they are even more of an annoyance in a game that you've already paid for upfront.
The game uses a pay-for-convenience model, allowing players to purchase excess amounts of gold upfront. Gold is the main currency within the game, and it's used to unlock characters, buy items, and purchase equipment. By purchasing additional gold outside of the game, players can level up their items and equipment faster, but the pricing and gold drops are adequately situated that players never feel like they have to buy additional gold.
Other than that small hiccup, the game performs beautifully, running smoothly on both tablets and smartphones, while offering a beautifully nostalgia-driven pixel art aesthetic.
While this game may appear too niche for some, I'd urge players to look past the subject matter to see the funny, well crafted game that lies beneath. Its humor, art style, and clean mechanics all collide to create an experience that feels reminiscent of the past, while offering something completely original at the same time.
Since it's priced at only $2 and offeris endless hours of gameplay, there isn't any reason why an RPG fan shouldn't pick this game up.
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