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Review: Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition for PC

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Title: Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
Price: $9.99 for the standard edition, $14.99 for the digital deluxe
System(s): Windows and Mac
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Paradox Interactive (Behold Studios)
ESRB Rating: N/A

In an age where Android and iOS games are seeing huge popularity booms, it isn’t uncommon to see developers attempt a larger release. In the case of Behold Studios, the developer has teamed with Paradox Interactive to bring it’s entertaining RPG Knights of Pen and Paper to a larger audience as Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition. I was intrigued enough to buy into the original endeavor and relished the chance to experience a fuller experience on my PC. I wasn’t disappointed by the gameplay, but am perplexed to see Paradox Interactive and Behold Studios offering me the opportunity to give them more money, just so I can get ahead.

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Grab some (virtual) friends, sit in front of the (digital) dungeon master and begin.

Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition players differently than most RPGs. It’s still a turn-based adventure, set in a fantasy world, with an epic quest to eventually save the world, but proceeds in a manner akin to a tabletop RPG. That means players aren’t controlling a party in general, but instead interact with up to five party members on one side of the table and the dungeon master on the opposing side. To advance the story or bring up quests, players click the DM. To take part in battles, equip characters or level-up, they click party members.

However, that’s only part of the game. Players have to remember that Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition is supposed to be like a tabletop experience. That means, the real world has to be taken into account. Various table objects and room furniture can be purchased and placed, which then affects the adventure. There may be experience boosts, resistances to certain kinds of attacks, lower ressurrection costs and so on. It’s an interesting mechanic that’s well implemented within the confines of the game.

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Faithful to the RPG experience, but the option to “buy” gold is distressing.

Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition‘s strongest strength is the way in which it mimics a traditional, tabletop RPG while still following all of the rules of a regular, video game RPG. The dungeon master is the means of advancing the tale, and clicking on him sets up a new quest, initiates a battle, provides opportunity to travel or rest and lets people interact with the fantasy world. Difficulty is even controlled by determining the dungeon master’s challenges. At the same time, players control the party members as well, dictating their actions in the turn-based battles, overseeing their growth as they level up and determining their equipment.

It’s also interesting to see how Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition balances the “real” and “fake” virtual worlds within the game. Clicking the dungeon master moves the fantasy forward, clicking party members brings up character sheets and clicking surroundings brings us back to the “real” world. Using gold, either purchased with real-cash or earned within the game, allows people to either buy fake equipment and items, or real furnishings for the home and table that influence the game. I liked the sense of balance, and even the fact that one could cheat if enough gold was spent on the real world aspects.

The problem with Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition is that it holds onto its Android and iOS game roots. While it’s perfectly fine to have a lower price, like $1.99 or $2.99 on this particular game, on iTunes and Google Play and a supplemental in-game cash shop, that doesn’t fly when it comes to a full PC release. When people are paying $10 for the standard edition or $15 for the deluxe edition, they expect a full experience, and rightfully so. Instead, they’re getting framework and if they want a better experience, filled with a full party of five characters and extra room elements that enhance the game, they either have to play for a few hours to earn in the in-game gold for it, or make a cash shop purchase. Want to visit the blacksmith or resurrect someone? Fine, but if you don’t feel like waiting, you’ll have to pay.

It’s a sad state of affairs when a normal PC game chooses to take this path. With mobile incarnations, it’s expected. Once a Windows or Mac version is released, especially in the case of an indie game like Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition, you expect to get a full game and not wonder if you will ever be tempted to pitch in an additional fee to advance past a point without excessive level-grinding. This is especially true in the case of the digital deluxe edition, which includes an extra character, farm village location, room items and starter treasure trove of gold. Instead, Behold Studios should have simply made it easier to earn gold in the PC release, eliminating the need to continually tempt people who have just given $10 in the hopes they’ll kick in a few dollars more.

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Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition offers an unusual take on adventuring.

Gripes about the inclusion of an in-game cash shop and unexpected bevy of extras for people willing to pay $5 more aside, Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition is an engaging RPG. It’s quite enjoyable as well, especially for people who got their starts with tabletop RPGs before moving into the world of video game. It does a good job of replicating the old-school RPG experience, right down to the cast of characters, dungeon master comments and ability to adjust the experience by altering the real-world environment. A little more guidance and less showcasing of what one “could” have, should they decide to cave and spend extra money on gold, would be nice seeing the initial buy-in price, but it’s still a very viable candidate for RPG afficianados to consider when looking for a new game.

Site [Paradox Interactive]

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