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Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition

I rarely get to be a dungeon master, but when I do, I feel right at home.  There’s nothing like being in complete control of someone else’s destiny…on pen and paper, that is.  “Ohhhh, sorry…looks like you stepped on a pile of troll droppings…minus three thousand dexterity.” Needless to say, no one likes it when I’m the dungeon master.  “Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition” is an expanded version of “Knights of Pen and Paper”, which was released back in 2012.  The latter was designed for iPhone/iPad/iPod and Android devices, but the newer version will allow us PC and Mac users a chance to flex our creative muscles a bit.  In short, this game allows the player to take on the role of both the dungeon master AND the characters…something I did way back when in my “Hero Quest” days.  Before we get started with the review, I’d like to thank Veronica Gunlycke and David Martinez from Paradox Interactive for providing me with a free press copy.

Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition

Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition (Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPod, Android)

Before the game booted up, I was given the option to change the screen resolution and toggle fullscreen via a window pop-up.  Once at the main menu, you can create a new game, continue an existing one, adjust game options, and click on icons that will bring you to various social media websites.  The options menu is pretty bare, allowing you to only adjust audio levels and language.  The good news is that you’ll have access to multiple profiles, meaning that others can play the game without messing your game up.  A shop menu is displayed along the top left, allowing you to buy furniture, snacks, pets, and other items that will provide you with active and passive buffs throughout the game.  The real money microtransaction store menu is on the top right, which I’ll get to later on in the review.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with either game in the “Knights of Pen and Paper” series, you’ll assemble a group of role-players and give them whatever personality and background you’d like.  I found it interesting that not only could I choose what class everyone was going to play as , but what quote unquote “real life” profile they’d have.  Want a grandma warrior tank?  Check.  Want your pizza guy to be a necromancer?  You can swing that too.  Want E.T. (yes, there’s an alien character in this game) to be a shaman?  All too easy.  There are a number of different characters and classes to choose from, so feel free to let your imagination run the show.

Since you’re also playing the role of the dungeon master, you’ll have full control over what your party of heroes experience in their travels.  You can make fights as easy or as hard as you like, which I honestly found to be a very attractive feature.  Casual gamers like myself will have the opportunity to go slow and take the game at their own pace, while the more hardcore gamers can ramp things up and test their own limits.  Easier fights don’t reward the party of heroes nearly as much as harder fights would, but that’s the price you pay for taking the low road…and honestly I’m not going to complain.

Knight of Pen and Paper +1 Edition

You can improve upon a character’s passive and active abilities by leveling them up.

The main objective of the game is for your party of heroes to defeat the dark mage.  In order to do that, you’ll have to level them up and equip them with gear, just as you would your own characters in any RPG you might play.  Winning battles rewards the party with gold, which serves as the currency they’ll need to improve their equipment.  The big picture and general flow of the game is very easy to understand in that you’ll be setting up fights, winning or losing fights, equipping your party members, then rinsing and repeating.  It can be a little grindy, but luckily having control over the encounter setup will allow you to mix things up as you please.

Battles themselves are fairly easy to understand too, though you’ll have quite a bit of options to choose from.  You’ll be able to perform basic attacks at first, but after your party members level up a bit, you’ll find you’ll have a number of abilities to choose from.  Battles are turn-based, giving you a chance to pick what you want to do with the hi-lited character.  If you’ve ever played a “Final Fantasy” game, you’d understand how the turns function.  You can cast healing spells, drink potions, perform actions that affect agro, and more.  The options you’ll have will vary, depending on the classes you’ve chosen.

So, what is new in the “Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition”?  Firstly, there are more monsters, traps, bosses, and treasures for your party members to encounter.  Party members have more combat options available to them compared to the original game, and characters can be stashed and swapped out at a tavern in between battles.  The campaign has been extended and features a lot more content, giving fans of the original more bang for their buck.  All of these new features compliment the original model well.  The graphics are still of “NES/SNES” quality and likeness, though being a retro gamer myself, I didn’t mind all that much.

Knight of Pen and Paper +1 Edition

This game proves that pixel art can look really, really good.

On the subject of micro-transactions…yes, there is a system present within the game.  A lot of the things you do in the game (traveling, buying equipment, etc.) require significant amounts of gold.  Luckily, you can grind side missions and the like for the gold you need as opposed to forking out real cash.  You can access everything the game has to offer without the micro-transactions, it’ll just take longer.  With that said, those fearing a “pay-to-play” platform can put their minds at ease.  Once you purchase the game, you are not obligated to pay any more money to complete it.

Speaking of price, the Steam version is going for about $9.99 (as of 6/18/13).  According to a developer comment on the Steam forums HERE, owners of the original mobile game will receive the “+1” content as a bonus.  More specifically,

“Yes, the +1 features will be available on the mobile version on the same day, except for the Deluxe content. So, you can continue to play the game on your phone, if you wish!”

-Iprunk (Developer)

This means that those who paid a couple of bucks for the original game on the mobile platforms make out in the end, as they get the “+1” content for free.  Those who don’t own a smart phone will need to shell out ten bucks for the full game.  For an extra five bucks, you can get the digital deluxe edition which includes some bonus content (extra starting gold, another playable character, etc.).  If most of the content is the same across both types of platforms, then I don’t see why the game couldn’t sell for maybe five bucks instead of ten on the PC / Mac platforms.  Some people won’t mind supporting the developer for bringing their game to the computer platforms, while others might be a tad miffed about the price difference.  Obviously, you’ll need to be the one to decide if you have a problem with it.

At the end of the day, “Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition” is a great way to unwind and lose yourself a bit.  There’s nothing like coming home from ten hours of accounting work to piles of homework that you have to check and sign off on, but this game helps me to forget about all of that.  As I stated above, it can be a bit grindy.  Some might get bored playing this game over long stretches, whereas others will need family members to wheel them to the restroom and replace IV drips as necessary.  I myself found this game to be highly addictive and fun to play.  Character progression has always been an appealing feature in any RPG that I partake in, and this particular one allows me to do it the way I want, at my own pace.  It’s not perfect and a few things bother me about the price structuring, but it’s certainly worth checking out.

Final Verdict: 7/10

You can learn more about and purchase “Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition” by visiting the following websites:

http://beholdstudios.com.br/

http://www.paradoxplaza.com/games/knights-of-pen-and-paper-1-edition

http://store.steampowered.com/app/231740/

You can check out video play sessions here:

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