Fans of the mobile game series Knights of Pen and Paper have been in for a treat this year. Originally releasing the first and second on phones in 2012 and 2015 respectively, Xbox owners have now had both games ported to the console within 8 months of each other. However, just like the console release schedule, there isn’t much to separate these two from each other.
Knights of Pen and Paper 2 releases on the Xbox One with a Special Edition – known as the Deluxiest Edition – which includes a few new features stitched into the main game; so well in fact that they do not feel any different. The game retains the same turn-based RPG gameplay as previous, and its sense of humour does make it feel like you are sat round a table with some mates. The GM narrates the tale and you – acting as the players on the other side of the table – must choose when to battle, and when to run away.
The best new addition though – and extremely useful in the first hour or two – is that of the Grinding Farm. Devoid of any story or quests, this location is used solely to level up your characters and is a worthy time investment if you wish to breeze through the game.
There are a couple of additional quest lines added to the game as well, but these function as more of a filler segment to get you up a level or two rather than anything meaningful.
That’s not to say this is a hard game. In fact, it is a damn sight easier than the first, and this could be down to the developers smoothing out the levelling up curve. Gone are the big spikes in enemy levels from before, now every battle feels like just the right amount of challenge. If one does feel too hard, you are probably supposed to complete something else first.
Just like the first game, KoPP2 sees you creating a character or two to sit at the table opposite the GM who will lead you through this adventure, making sure you stop off at the towns, villages and dungeons along the way. The chatter that goes on between the players and the GM makes this stand out from other turn-based RPGs.
You can choose from a generic set of classes including those of Warrior, Hunter, Paladin etc. but more can be unlocked as you progress through the story. And just like the first time around you can create more characters than the five seats allow; just place them in The Tavern until you require them later.
The game makes plenty – perhaps too many – fourth-wall breaking references that this is a sequel. Firstly, the graphics have faithfully recreated a 16-bit era game now, up from the 8-bit style of the first game. But even the main story itself is littered with jokes about most enemies being second edition, and the players being first edition. It’s a nod for tabletop RPGers to appreciate, but for many others, these references will probably fly over their heads.
Other new features include crafting and investigating. The former of these is useful if you have all the required items, but they can be very difficult to come by and it is unlikely you will touch most recipes, simply as it’s a struggle to get the right items.
Investigating meanwhile mirrors that of a tabletop RPG again by allowing you to search for special and unique items in the world, providing you get a successful dice roll. It’s a minor addition, but a good one.
Those are essentially the only differences between the original Knights of Pen and Paper and this second game though; almost everything else is the same. The quest structure is the same, featuring the same fetch quests, leaving you to defeat X number of enemies and every so often delve into a new dungeon to explore.
The combat is almost identical too, and aside from a few new class attacks may as well be a complete copy and paste. So much so, that the words from my review of the first game on the battle system still apply. The battles are your everyday standard turn-based affair, with each kicking off with a fighter being randomly assigned a number. All the player-controlled characters come with both a standard attack, and that of up to 4 magic-based ones which can be levelled up via the use of skill points. Thankfully, as opposed to the previous game every time you choose a spell or special attack, the description of what it does pops up before you execute it. This is a huge improvement.
Travelling from location to location is also the exact same process as before. You pay a small fee to travel and whether it is a safe crossing or not is decided by a randomised dice roll. But whereas before you could face an enemy a far higher level than you on an unsuccessful dice roll that could immediately wipe out your team, this mechanic has been much better implemented and is now only an inconvenience, rather than filling you with dread.
There are 16 achievements in the game and for the most part they are reasonably easy to obtain. Most will see you needing to spend skill points or visiting every location, but a few such as Mad Scientist and Virtual Reality offer only cryptic descriptions and won’t be easy to work out without the use of the internet.
Whilst Knights of Pen and Paper 2 Deluxiest Edition on Xbox One is an improvement over the first game, it is tough to recommend it as a good game when the improvements only serve to make it a more fixed and well-rounded experience. Too much is simply identical to before, and the biggest problem remains that this is a game that’s only fun in small doses. Play for longer than an hour at a time and you will be found suffering from burnout over the repetitive gameplay and combat.