Knights of Pen & Paper Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: Seaven Studio / Behold Studios
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Release Date: May 29th 2018
Price as of Article: $14.99 USD, £13.49 GBP
Game code provided by Plug In Digital for review
Knights of Pen & Paper is a fantasy styled RPG with a heavy dose of Dungeons and Dragons and create your own adventure vibe to it. Dungeons and Dragons fans will instantly connect with this one. Right from the beginning you’re introduced to the game as the dungeon master sits across the table beckoning the creation of your group of players to set you on your adventure.
While the story does play out like it’s made up on the spot, it’s still fairly linear as you help a village, curing a cursed King and tracking down the offending malevolent force. It’s charming, purposely cliched and full of 4th wall breaking conversation. I really found it pleasing, especially when your characters would break their in-game character claiming they need to use the bathroom or take a call, something which no doubt plagues D&D games around the world. Obviously it’s not the most necessary or engrossing of stories which will no doubt put off many an RPG fan but I enjoyed its eccentric nature.
Knight of Pen & Paper isn’t exactly big on tutorials, which I don’t mind, but it’s not exactly easy to just pick up the game and play right from the beginning. It’s not a complicated game by any means but some sort of guidance would have been nice for beginners, even if it was optional. I was never sure if I was doing the correct thing or not, or what the general means of certain things were, which left me a little apprehensive about playing.
You begin with the dungeon master across the table, telling you to create the people you want to join the game as well as their characters in game. Do you want the nerd to be a paladin or a mage? The office guy to be a cleric or a rogue? At the end of the day, it seems to have very little impact as to who you chose to be what, but that seems to be a theme of the game. It’s not exactly the most in-depth game that I’ve ever played. In fact the gameplay of Knights of Pen & Paper is definitely secondary to the story and quirkiness it wants to present. Take away the referential, 4th wall breaking D&D skin and you’ve got yourself a very basic time.
As your dungeon master sits opposite you talk to him to receive a choice of quests, some of which are for advancing the story, others are for grinding cash, experience and more likely; watching some funny dialogue. You travel from location to location fighting battles to appease the dungeon masters whacky antics.
Battles are quite basic as you would expect. Set out like a Dragon Quest game, your characters are planted at the bottom the screen (still attached to their gaming table) with enemies above. You have a physical attack or your special attacks which use up your magic points. Depending on which characters you’ve chosen will depend on what’s available, but you’ll definitely want a healer in there as soon as possible.
An interesting gimmick is that you can often choose how many foes you want to battle at a time. This isn’t always the case for big story battles or surprise attacks but for the most part you can pick and choose how many you want to take on. Between battles you can even rest up all your health and magic before attempting to take on the rest of the required total. It’s so casual, almost to a condescending level but you can forgive it because it’s so whimsical in its style. It also emits fallout from its mobile origins, its ripe for a quick pick up and play with plenty of opportunity to be half distracted by something else.
Even though that may give off a feeling that Knights of Pen & Paper is easy, you may want to take time to grind a few levels here and there between story points since, you’ll find that the next main story mission will often have a higher recommended level than you’ll currently be at if you’re just casually making your way through the game. There’s even a specifically designated grind area where enemies will be perfectly levelled to help advance you the most. It seems like a bit of a copout for a lack of balance but it’s not a huge issue.
I did have some interface issues with this game. As you may have seen from the gameplay footage, at the beginning I found it very easy to click the wrong command for a variety of reasons. Firstly it’s not always clear where everything is or what everything means. This is thanks to the lacking tutorial but there are other elements such as the default cursor placement being on the second command of magic, rather than the first. The cursor highlight isn’t great either, the icon you are on is only a slightly darker shade of grey. It’s not great design in my opinion. Of course you do become accustomed to it eventually but it doesn’t excuse it.
As you may be wondering from the title, this is supposed to be the Epic Super Turbo Championship Edition of the game. As I have not played the original release I don’t know what exactly the +1 or the Deluxier moniker have added to the gameplay. It is promised that more quest lines, items and places have been put in. How much? I don’t know.
Visuals & Performance
Visually it’s taken a lot of inspiration from the 16-Bit era RPGs and I think it looks bright and colourful enough. There is the slightly generic medieval fantasy style that we’ve seen a million times over, but that’s the point. There’re some decently designed enemies and environments although the scope is obviously quite small. I do wish there was more animation. Everything is very, very static which makes things become a little unappealing after a while.
The sound is pretty good but a little on the repetitive side. If you stay in the same places for any length of time you may become a little tired of the song loops, even if they are fairly good and catchy. The songs are very 16-Bit to go along with the art style in a nicely fitting way. A bit more variety would have been nice though.
For value, this Deluxier Edition of Knights of Pen & Paper is selling for $14.99 or £13.49 which is probably more than you guys were hoping for. With this price you’re getting more than a dozen hours of charming, reference laden, laid-back RPG gameplay. That sounds like decent value right? At least compared to other games. The offbeat nature of it means there’s always something new and funny to experience and so it’s a decent amount of content for the price.
Nice retro presentation
Great pick up and play
May lack depth for some