by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Further adding to the illusion that you are playing an old-fashioned pen & paper RPG, the players never leave the table – not even during a fight. Enemies present themselves against various backdrops and your players dispose of them from the comfort of their chairs. While the game does not go as far as to pester you with the constant dice-rolls needed to play with pen & paper, it does occasionally roll dice, for instance to calculate the chance of being interrupted during travel between locations.
Each class has four special skills that can be upgraded over time. There is no complicated skill tree, no branches, just four simple skills that become stronger over time. If that sounds a little boring, it isn’t. There is enough variation across the classes to keep you entertained for hours on end. One of each class per party feels a little limiting at first too but you end up appreciating the versatility of your group before long. The cleric’s healing powers, the Mage’s deadly “Meteor” strike that hits all targets, the Rogue’s “Concussion Blow” that stuns an enemy for a turn… every skill has been chosen with great care and each has the potential to have a profound impact on the outcome of the battle when used smartly.
And while the players and classes have little in the way of customization, you do have quite a bit of influence on what battles you fight and when. In every location, the dungeon master can be asked to generate simple quests that exist outside of the game’s main plot. These include escort missions and combat sessions and can be customized in terms of difficulty and even the number of foes in battle. So if at first you don’t succeed, you simply resurrect your party members for in-game gold and try again. If you like a challenge, you keep everything the same, if you think the battle was too hard, you simply add fewer enemies.
Setting the table
The in-game gold can also be used to buy items that give your players additional bonuses such as extra health, a higher chance of dealing life-stealing damage to your foes and much, much more. True to the ‘return to pen & paper’ concept, these items are added to the dungeon master’s living room and the central table. The bonuses are applied to all members of your party, and even the table itself can be upgraded. Should you run out of gold, you can buy some with real currency which may be of interest to some, but I can frankly do without. Knights of Pen & Paper is worth its 10 dollar price tag but if you’ve paid for a game, that should be it. Make a Free to Play game or make a paid game, either is fine with me, but somewhere in between rubs me the wrong way.
Aside from that one small complaint, Knights of Pen & Paper is a tribute to games from the 8 bit era as well as to pen & paper role-playing. There is an unmistakable charm in the simplistic 8 bit looks and musical score and the game hits a level of immersion that rivals many a triple-A title. Simply put, they don’t make ‘m like this anymore.
Old-school fun all around
Buying in-game gold for real money in what is advertised as a "full game" feels wrong