Sometimes tablet games translate well to the PC, other times not so much. Even if the game was fun and well received on the former, the way games are consumed on each of these platforms can be quite different so that what may be enjoyable on a tablet may not be so elsewhere. This is exactly what we have with the PC version of Knights of Pen and Paper. I can totally see how people would enjoy this game on a tablet, bonking some monsters on the head while on the train for 20 minutes. Even the above average level of control that players have over battles can seem intriguing in short bursts. However, most people who play RPGs on their home computers, myself included, tend to do so for fairly prolonged sessions. What was once a nice time waster here and there becomes a tedious slog. Even the once charming retro aesthetic begins to wear its welcome after half an hour or so.
While this sounds like a good idea, the types of quests that players have to choose from are whittled down versions of everything that is wrong with questing in the genre. Do you like escort missions? How about collect-a-thons? Perhaps quests of the kill ten rats variety are more your cup of tea? No? That's too bad, because these are what you'll have to choose from while shaping the way you progress through the game. It's not a pretty sight. As one can probably imagine, this leads to monotony and boredom in a very short time.
Knights of Pen and Paper also tries to charm players with its retro shtick. While the game did bring back memories of playing games like Dragon Warrior on my NES as a child, the repetitive nature of what I was doing quickly reminded my why a lot of those old RPGs spend more time on my shelf than in a console nowadays, and no amount of classic gaming charm can gloss over that. Even worse, just as the gameplay here is repetitive, so is the soundtrack. Playing for more than fifteen minutes at a time pretty much necessitates muting the music in favor of something else lest one does not value their sanity.
Seeing as the game was originally released for tablet, it also has an optional micro transaction element to it. The vast amount of what players do in the game requires gold. This includes standard stuff like upgrading weapons at the blacksmith and buying items. What with this being a pen and paper game within a game, players can decorate the room of the friends playing the game in the game as well, and each of these items augments stats and abilities while playing. They also cost gold. Need to resurrect a dead character? It's going to cost you. In gold. Even travelling on the map costs gold. So, the game requires a lot of it, while "conveniently" giving the players the option to buy a bunch of gold with real money if they're impatient and don't want to grind it out. It's actually not hard to earn gold in the game. Quests reward a ton of the stuff, and if worse came to worse and you decided to grind on monsters to earn that coin it wouldn't take very long before you're rolling in the stuff, especially at higher levels. So, I find it highly unlikely very many people would even use the micro transaction service. Nonetheless, it does feel a tad money grubby, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
About the only thing that I actually did like about the game was its combination of fourth wall breaking and its constant references to 80s and 90s pop culture. Due to this straddling a line between pen and paper, a video game, and the real world it often bounces around acknowledging what it is, mixing elements of the real world in the game world. What's nice is just how subtle it can be at times. There are things like console controllers worked into hieroglyphs, space invaders, yoda, and a bunch of other stuff. Granted, some of the references being made are blindingly obvious, but in a number of cases you really need to keep your eyes peeled in order to spot them.
- Jeff Nash
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- Some nice pop culture references
- The types of quests available are very simplistic, repetitive, and stereotypical of the genre
- Battles are easy and require little thought once players figure out the game's mechanics
- Optional micro transactions may be a turn off to some
- Repetitive soundtrack
Score: 5.5 / 10
Have you played this game? What did you think of it? Loved it? Hated it? Why? Let us know in the comments!