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Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition (Beat-the-Average) Review:
It used to be that hardcore gaming invoked images of people sitting around a table with sheets of paper and pencils, exploring the world and completing the quests someone designed for them. Now the imagery is that of people sitting in front of computer screens and televisions, shooting aliens or zombies for hours on end. Some video games though, such as Knights of Pen and Paper, bring that pen and paper experience to the computer screen, with a healthy dose of self-deferential humor and stylization that keeps it from being too much like the games it is inspired by.
Knights of Pen and Paper is a turn-based RPG that features a game within a game. You control a number of characters sitting at a table, who themselves are playing the game designed by the game master across the table. Selecting the characters is a mildly amusing experience, as you can select from the Pizza Guy, Grandma, your Little Brother, and more, with each possessing some special ability. The Pizza Guy, for example, costs half as much gold to bring to the table, assuming you bring him in later in the game. You only get the first two characters free. Naturally you must also set the class the character is playing as, such as mage, warrior, druid, etc. It may sound overwhelming, but if you are familiar with other turn-based RPGs, you should be very comfortable here.
Once in the game you can pick fights, travel the world, and start quests. Along with the bonuses for completion, you are also given some bonus during the quest, which can be valuable to take advantage of. The Slay quests grant extra experience from fights and are only tied to defeating a specific enemy type. By having only one of that kind of enemy and multiple of another, possibly higher level enemy, you can gain experience very quickly.
Fights and quests not only give your characters experience, but also award you with gold. This gold can be used inside the game to purchase equipment, but also outside of the game (that your characters are playing; not outside of Knights of Pen and Paper). Outside of the game you can purchase food with a timed bonus, or items with permanent bonuses, including items to rest on the table, a different table, a new door, and even a different game master. The better the bonus the more expensive the item, but given their permanent nature, you should not forget to at least look through the list. You are able to switch between those you have purchased,to run with whichever bonus is most beneficial at the time.
The game has an obvious retro feel to it, coming from both its content and the pixel-art style. It looks great and plays perfectly on both my smartphone and my PC. Really I see no reason to prefer playing it on one platform or another, though I should point out it crashed twice on my phone. Perhaps I should also warn you that this is a game I could easily see someone forming an addiction to, as they strive for the next level or grind for gold, for that next upgrade.
So far I have had a good amount of fun playing, and my neck is a little sore from bending it to look at my smartphone as I played on it. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a fun game with depth and a sense of humor. This is a game worth beating-the-average for, if you have any interest in it for either platform.
Oh, and before I forget, you can play it in either portrait or landscape on your smartphone. I played it in portrait, as you can see from the screenshots