Gather round the table and listen to an old RPG nerd regale you of his adventures in Knights of Pen and Paper 2.
Having never played the first game (cue screams of nOOb) I was excited to have the opportunity to finally take the plunge into this series. After playing this preview of Knights of Pen and Paper 2, I can confirm that it’s shaping up to be a potentially fantastic game.
If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, I can give a quick explanation. You’ll be in charge of a group of people who’re playing a Dungeons & Dragons type of game. You create their characters for them and they roleplay as those characters on an adventure. All the visuals and music in-game are in the imagination of your players; the game master describes the events unfolding to them. It’s an innovative take on the classic RPG, allowing the developers to play around with breaking the 4th wall.
The first thing that immediately hit me were the delightful aesthetics of Knights of Pen and Paper 2. The graphics and music are reminiscent of a bygone time of dungeons, dragons and 16-bit. If you ever played the early games on any of the older consoles (I had a Commodore 64) then you’ll be very familiar with this style. Kyy Games have genuinely done a great job of recreating those older visuals and sounds, but with a modern twist. Everything just feels more crisp and polished than it used to on those older machines. The monsters look great; from the trolls, to the troglodytes and even to the sentient rat traps (yes, I did just say that). They all look the part of intimidating RPG beasties, especially the rat traps. The music is equally on-point, with its epic fantasy melodies that are given a retro twist – the soundtrack does a great job of setting the scene.
After a hilarious introduction involving a meta-gamer’s level 99 character and a terrifying – yet legally well-informed – monster, the preview began in earnest and I was able to create my party. I was only allowed two characters at the beginning but this was eventually increased to five. When creating your characters, you can choose your player’s background (like hipster, cheerleader and jock) their character’s race (human, elf and dwarf) and their character’s class (the usual suspects like cleric, thief and mage). These three options all have in-game benefits, providing you with a statline and skills based on which three you chose. For example, my first character was a hipster, human thief. This meant that he had the early adopter trait (giving him access to better equipment in the stores sooner) and he had access to the four thief skills. There are tons of different character options, so you’ll end up with a varied party, each character bringing important benefits to the team.
Once I’d created my first two characters I was summoned into Spawn Point Village. Before I set off on my true adventure there was an optional tutorial that explained the basic mechanics of the game. The combat is heavily influenced by JRPGs, with turn-based combat that relies on the use of special abilities. At face value the combat is simple, but as you play you realise there’s more depth to Knights of Pen and Paper 2 than meets the eye. You have to keep a close eye on initiative, health, energy and the positioning of enemies. This is so you know which enemy to target, when to use certain abilities and when it’s time to simply run away bravely like Sir Robin (I hope someone gets this reference). When the inevitable happens, and one of your characters dies, you can revive them using a portion of your hard-earned gold (unless their background is goth, then it’s free).
There are various different gameplay mechanics other than turn based combat on offer too. In each area your party will remain around their table but the backdrop will change. The game master then gives you the option to complete quests, choose to battle enemies (you can choose the number and variety), search the area (a luck minigame), travel to a different area, or camp to restore HP and energy – at towns you can also purchase items and rest at the inn. There’s also a dungeon crawling minigame in the Nearby Cave (the actual name of the area) in which you travel between rooms encountering enemies, traps and treasure. All of this leads to nicely varied gameplay that continues to increase in complexity as you play.
I pretty much enjoyed everything about this short preview of Knights of Pen and Paper 2. However, by far my favourite aspect of it was the general atmosphere and humor that Kyy Games brought to the table (quite literally). They do a great job at satirizing the RPG genre and many other franchises too. The references in this preview alone included Fallout, Minecraft, Monty Python, The Bible and pretty much every fantasy-based game, book or film ever made. All of these references, along with the constant breaking of the 4th wall, shows that this game doesn’t take itself too seriously and just wants you to have as much fun as possible – which I did.
If, like me, you’re totally new to this franchise, then I’d definitely recommend that you pick up Knights of Pen and Paper +1. I’ve now been playing it to death, and it’s a great introduction to the franchise. Knights of Pen and Paper 2 seems to improve and expand on everything from the first game, while still bringing back the humor, atmosphere and fun gameplay (it’s even made the jump from stylized 8-bit graphics to 16-bit).
If you’re a fan of RPGs and are looking for a game that’s a lot of fun, then Knights of Pen and Paper 2 is definitely worth keeping an eye on. It releases on the 14th of May for PC, iOS and Android.
Grab your paper and hold your pens close to your heart: it’s time to go on an adventure.