Review: Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Deluxier Edition (Switch)

Kicking it old-school.

By Joshua A. Johnston. Posted 05/23/2018 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Great premise; hilarious plot, sharp and accessible RPG gameplay; touch support
Poison Mushroom for...
A handful of small programming rough spots; touch support incomplete; not much new here if you’ve already played the game

In this reviewer’s hometown, there is a local comic book store where, on any given Saturday, a group gathers at a table near the back of the store. They’re mostly men in their thirties, with minatures and character sheets and 20-sided die strewn about. And yes, they play Dungeons and Dragons. Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Deluxier Edition aims to capture a bit of the feel of that game master-led experience… with some wild twists.

The game, which retails on Switch for $14.99, is a definitive edition of a five-plus year-old turn-based RPG. The original Knights of Pen and Paper released back in 2012 on mobile, and has since seen various updates and re-releases on PC and now consoles. The game has also spawned two sequels, Knights of Pen and Paper 2 and Galaxy of Pen and Paper, although there are no official plans to bring those to Switch. The +1 Deluxier Edition contains the original game and several other additions. The biggest of these is the Haunted Fall expansion pack, which adds a new quest line as well as a witch class.

So, a brief primer: this game puts players at the table of a pen and paper RPG, with a cast of up to five characters, each with their own personal abilities. After suiting up each character with a job class— it’s the usual warrior/mage/rogue/etc. business here— it’s off to a fantasy world where the game master plans your fate. Except you are the game master, at least to a degree. That is, you get to select what quest you take on next. Not just that, but in some cases you even get to determine how many enemies you face or even how powerful those enemies are (you’re rewarded for larger swarms or more dangerous foes with more experience and loot). It is a clever twist on the formula that becomes especially interesting in the middle-to-late game.

Beyond that, if you’re expecting the trappings of a traditional turn-based RPG, you’ll find them. Experience points, equipment, inns, and leveling up are all here. So are some of the familiar tropes of an RPG… but that’s where things start to get wild. Because it’s clear the developer not only loves RPGs, but loves making fun of them. Characters in the game will frequently skewer RPG traditions or openly question the game master’s decisions, all while musing absently about life. There is also a pretty significant meta aspect to the game, although it’s best to say little about that here.

Presentation-wise, Knights of Pen and Paper is quintessential old-school. The graphics are meant to emulate (with a little polish) an 8-bit gaming feel, along with a soundtrack that is as ’80s video game as it gets. It’s a bit reminiscent of the NES era, but the better comparison might be the age of 1980s and early 1990s PC games. It’s hard not to walk through these quests and not see a hint of Sierra games in there somewhere.

As someone who played through the original game on mobile, I can’t help but view the Switch experience as it compares to the game’s first platform. On the positive side, the Switch is a solid platform to play the game, both on TV and in tablet mode. The latter has an additional advantage: touchscreen capability. The game actually supports touch, which totally makes sense for a turn-based RPG. Unfortunately— and surprisingly— there are a handful of actions that do not appear to be accessible via touch, forcing players to reach for buttons. Perhaps a future patch will remedy that, but for now, it’s a little incomplete.

Also unfortunately, and also not surprisingly, there are a couple of rough spots in the programming. Although the game generally runs smooth, in a couple of cutscenes there were odd pauses, dialogue bubbles that skipped ahead too fast, or characters who momentarily disappeared. These were rare occurrences, and I’m hopeful they’ll be remedied by a patch (this review involved a pre-release version of the game), but at press time they are still issues.

Overall, Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Deluxier Edition is a quality addition to the ever-growing Switch library, and really exemplifies what makes the eShop so awesome. If you’ve played the core game or its expansions on other systems, you may not find enough compelling about the Switch version to warrant another purchase, especially since competent portable versions have been out for years. If, however, you haven’t experienced the game and you’re looking to add some RPGing to your Switch library, this is definitely worth a look.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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