Review: Knights of Pen & Paper +1 Edition brings the tabletop RPG to the digital era
Dungeons & Dragons has always been something I showed interest in, yet I've never actually been a part of it. To me, D&D is this foreign experience where acting and speaking like your chosen character is not only common, but recommended. Rescuing damsels in distress, slaying dangerous beasts, completing quests and even sharing a drink in the pub all happening around a table of friends sounds somewhat surreal. I can't entirely wrap my head around it. Despite my secret infatuation for the game, I never acted on it, and feel like I lost out on some truly awesome nerdy moments.
Enter Knights of Pen & Paper +1 Edition from Behold Studios. It not only replicates the joys of a tabletop RPGs like D&D, but brings it to a modern age complete with hilarious pop culture references and some stellar turn-based gameplay. I can finally fulfill my D&D fantasy!
KoPP tasks you with creating a party of 2-5 characters. You can select from a variety of quirky characters, each with a specific bonus trait. Grandma's passive, for example, is being loud, giving her an extra 2 points to threat, making her a pretty good Paladin. On the other hand, the Jock has a +1 bonus to attack, which makes him a great candidate for a Warrior or Rogue. You have 19 to choose from on the mobile version, and 15 on the PC version, so you'll have quite a selection when choosing the perfect traveling companions.
Your journey starts with a jail breakout before you eventually make it to the World Map. While you're able to travel freely between locations, they each have a level requirement associated with them, meaning you'll get your butt kicked if you venture off too far from the main storyline.
Each location will have a few things to do before venturing off again. You'll be able to partake in main quests with specific goals in mind, or generate a quest of your own when you want to grind for some EXP points. A Blacksmith will upgrade your gear as long as you provide him with enough Grindstone and money. A Brewery will sell you all sorts of healing potions and food to help boost your stats on adventures, and a good old fashioned Inn will restore your party to perfect health.
The combat, while relatively simple, is definitely entertaining. Since you can see the order of who can attack when, as displayed by a number above each character, this allows for some strategic planning. Enemies that don't attack until later can be focused on and dispatched even before their turn comes up, and careful healing and stat boosting can be used right before an enemy strikes. Each character class has a very specific role in the party, and it's important to play to their strengths. A Cleric should always be keeping the party healthy, but he can also provide enough support damage, especially to undead enemies. Paladins, on the other hand, should focus more on keeping the aggro on them and casting various defensive spells to ensure they stay alive for the duration of battle. It's relatively easy to have a good party composition, considering there are only six classes and five spots in your party.
Since the game's perspective is from behind the table of a D&D game, you'll also be able to utilize various "real-life" items that you can buy with the gold you earn in the game. Snacks, drinks and objects can be laid out on the table to provide various statistical boosts as well as some permanent effects, such as a +1 to all dice rolls. You can also switch out your Dungeon Master for others, who represent famous characters like Master Splinter (Karate Rat), Yoda (Yoga) and Doc (The Cientist) from Back to the Future. Buying various furniture or nerd memorabilia like the Tardis or an arcade machine add even more permanent status boons to your party.
It's the presentation however that wraps this incredibly addicting game into an awesome, retro package. The pixel graphics themselves, combined with the rad chiptune soundtrack, are charming as hell. The fact that everything in the game takes place from behind this one table is a rather genius idea, and really drives that entire concept of tabletop RPGs home.
Oddly enough, despite the game's $9.99 price tag, there is a cash shop that can help you get some gold fast in exchange for real money. This can be completely ignored, though, since enough grinding will get you enough eventually.
Knights of Pen & Paper +1 Edition is as charming as it is addicting. It's a superb digital take on the classic game of D&D, and I now finally get to be a part of it. It's jam-packed with quests to complete, locations to visit and monsters to slay. For those on the go, I recommend trying out the mobile version first, since it only runs for $2.99, but make no mistake, the PC version is well worth the asking price.