It’s always helpful to know the biases of the people whose work you’re reading, so here’s one of mine: I absolutely adored Knights of Pen & Paper. It’s one of my favorite tablet games ever, a simple but deep RPG that manages to send up and revel in many genre tropes at the same time. It’s both fun and funny, which is a great combination but also leaves you wondering if Paradox Interactive can do it again.
The studio is giving it a shot, as evidenced by the early build of Knights of Pen & Paper II I have on my iPad right now. Paradox says this version is at most 20 percent complete, since it includes only the first chapter of the overall story, but it’s already enough to make me want more.
The set-up is very much in keeping with the sensibility of its predecessor. Paperos is facing a new, wonderfully meta threat that involves people using different editions of the same RPG rules. If you’ve experienced this in real life, you know it’s Serious Business (patent pending). Your adventures begin in Spawn Point Village and expand out from there, with the promise of a large new world to explore.
That world looks different since Knights of Pen & Paper II has upgraded its retro stylings from 8-bit to 16-bit graphics. Gameplay has been enhanced as well; while combat is still gloriously turn-based, there are factors to consider like the positioning of enemies — let’s just say hiding in the back row has its advantages. Character attributes now matter for things like resisting negative conditions, but my favorite change has to be adding a button for every active ability a character has. No wading through menus for the actions you want to use most often in combat.
As for the script, I don’t want to give too much away, but it appears the story will have more inside geek jokes and fourth wall poking while also expanding to include a wider range of cultural references. There’s an early encounter with undead bankers that has a distinct “Occupy Wall Street” vibe to it, and you need to make a decision whether or not to help one side or the other. My guess is that both factions get skewered, because that’s just how Paradox seems to roll.
I’ve already unearthed one additional character class just by playing, and there’s a system for using gold to unlock new items, classes and content disguised as an old school RPG magazine. Those are the kind of touches that made the first game so endearing, and it’s nice to see them return for another go-round. The TL;DR version of all this is to say Knights of Pen & Paper II is shaping up to have all the qualities that made the first game so great, while adding enough new goodies to make it worth being a whole new game instead of an expansion.
That’s really all you can ask for from a sequel, and personally, I can’t wait for this one.