Review: Knights of Pen & Paper

By Owen Faraday 07 Nov 2012 0
 Droll. Your default dungeon master is Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons.

Knights of Pen & Paper is that guy who laughs harder at his own jokes than anybody else in the room, punctuating every punchline with a little elbow jab in your ribs.

"Hey," says Knights of Pen & Paper, "you know how RPGs make you go on meaningless fetch quests? Go get me twenty apples, right? Am I right?" Knights of Pen & Paper chortles to himself.

"Wait, here's another one: why are total strangers always coming up to you in RPGs asking you to solve their problems? Hilarious, yeah?"

Hilarious? Maybe - Earthbound was doing that bit twenty years ago, you know. And the means which Knights of Pen & Paper employs to make fun of fetch quests is.. sending you on fetch quests. Irony is well and good, but a grind is still a grind. And yet, KOP&P is so good-natured and guileless about being simultaneously an RPG and a riff on RPGs that you can't help but like it.

The gags are sometimes rendered in slightly Spoonerized English thanks to the game's Brazilian origins, though that only adds to the charm. But if the game were all gags, it would grow tiresome pretty quickly. Importantly, there's a pretty good RPG at work here, and one with a few wrinkles you might not have seen before.

I really like the horse that gets you from location to location. Even if it's padded out a bit by grinding, there's a massive amount of content in Knights of Pen & Paper.

KOP&P's best trick is that it puts you in charge of not only the usual party of adventurers, but also the D&D-style dungeon master who's running the campaign your heroes are embarked upon. This isn't the game-changer it sounds like at first - it really just amounts to the ability to apply some buffs to your team and adjust the difficulty of most enemy encounters - but it's a clever turn that adds a slew of interesting decisions to RPG experience.

Because it's a game about gaming, and not an RPG that's trying to tell you a story, KOP&P gives you a lot of room to spread your wings and explore. Want to add the pizza delivery guy as a party member midgame? Go for it. Feel like adding an elite monster to this fight in Frozen Toe Passage? Good luck, squire. At its best, KOP&P plays like a sandbox RPG - a lot of the fun derives from trying out different character classes on the various pre-rolled characters.

Part of me wishes that developer Behold Studios had taken that dungeon master conceit further. Adding or subtracting monsters from a fight and decorating the gaming table in the basement with a flaming skull is neat - but it isn't actually empowering you to change the fabric of the game. But that would have been a different game entirely, and as it stands, Knights of Pen & Paper is a standout mobile RPG that every fan of the genre ought to try.

And did I say funny? Yes, yes it's funny. Stop elbowing me.


4 out of 5




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