Developer: Kyy Games
Genre: Turn Based Strategy RPG
MSRB( at time of writing): $7.99
Platform: IOS, Steam, Xbox One, PS4
Game Link: https://store.steampowered.com/app/310060/Knights_of_Pen_and_Paper_2/
Intro: In the days of constant internet connection one often longs for the old days, wehre groups of people could sit down over a wooden table, and roll dice and talk about dragons while two people are on their phones and another one is busy drawing their character. No, im not talking about the days of the 80’s, im talking about fall last year. Covid sucks and we all know it. Fortunatley, there are alternatives to those activities. Such as Knights of Pen and Paper 2, an old school strategy rpg that combines the turn based action of final fantasy with the humor of a DND session where the DM is one of the interns for a writer of The Big Bang Theory.
I’d be lying if I said that I can remember much of the story, as there’s barely any. It feels as if im filling in a fantasy/ rpg MadLib. Think of a generic rpg story and there ya go, thats KOPAP 2 for you.
That’s not to say that the narrative and writing aren’t good (sometimes). But alot of the time the story barfs on you’re face on the short linear paths to the next objective. There aren’t any real factions, or groups that you’ll grow attached to, no villains to grow contempt and hatred of, no party members that will sadden you with their deaths.
The only real meaningful parts of the story are the narrative, and the dialogue spoken between characters. It tends to have decent comedic timing, and charming, if limited, pop culture references. But that’s the only real string to the games comically weak bow. After a while that charm wears itself out and makes you want to take up sword swallowing.
Towards the halfway point theres plenty of dead humor that doesn’t land and brings the pacing to a grinding halt. The worst is when important dialogue needed for questlines is sandwiched between “jokes” and exposition dumps of story. The skip button started to look very appealing because reading pure cringe bored me to tears. For all the aspiring RPG/ strategy makers of the world heres my two pieces of advice for this type of narrative: A. when it comes to humor and jokes, having a little bit less is better than having a little bit too much and B. if at any point you or your test audience gets bored and attempts to skip dialogue to get it over with, its time to go back to the drawing board and figure out what went wrong.
I did like how the game was willing to go completley insane and fight weird hectagonal monsters. I feel as if the wackiness could lead to a potentially more engaging game overall. But ultimately it was only a few sections and then tossed out in favor of more dead jokes.
In short, KOPAP is a game where the jokes acts as airplanes, and the story structure acts an aircraft carrier: at first the planes land normally and smoothly, but as the deck fills up and storage is limited, the other planes panic and begin to kamikaze the ships hull, destroying the whole ship in the process.
The gameplay is similar to that of any turn based strategy rpg games. While there are a few new ideas and trying something new, KOPAP prefers to stick on well- trodden ground.
In terms of classes you have healers, barbarians, mages, and thieves. While there are other class roles, they all essentially revolve around the same 3 basic types of classes: Tank, DPS, and Healer. With these well know, and somewhat generic, classes the gameplay is about as standard as possible. With not much changing to the core basics, the gameplay soon becomes mind numblingly repetitive, and the strategy becomes bland and exhausting.
There is near constant backtracking to get anywhere. From traveling to searching the area around it, to resting around a campfire you have to roll dice. If you make a bad roll, (and believe me youll make many) either you fight enemies that are so low level to you theres no point, or enemies that will straight up kill you in a two hits, though that last one is gracefully rare.
In my opinion the class system is not necessarily bad as it is simplistic. Some of the classes do have different attacks from each other, and different styles to adapt, such as the ninja class applying bleeding on a crit, while a thief has bonus damage on undamaged enemies. There are also different abilities that I would straight up ignore, such as the ranger having a grapple hook attack that pulls enemies to the front of the line.
Some characters become so overpowered that breaks the game like a gingerbread house. The Ranger, for example has a bow attack that at level ten deals more power than the entire group combined. Using this one attack alone, you can beat it so fast you could turn the game back in on Steam to get a refund. With the games lackluster upgrade system, it basically railroads your progress to one or two abilities. I always felt claustrophobic playing it, like I was making a mistake regardless and missing a key feature.
The character class customization is also far too linear and railroaded. You choose a race (elf, dwarf, and human), a class, and most interestingly, the type of player playing, be it a jock, geek, cheerleader etc. The effects these give off is lacking, though. It tends to just give a small stat boost and nothing else.
In the end, i liked alot of the gameplay elements in theory. In practice, though, they were lacking depth, which ultimately killed the game near the end for me
The artstyle is very hit or miss, and tends to land on the miss side of the die, ironic for a pen and paper rpg. While the game has its fair share of well-designed items, alot of the game lacks much character, or atmosphere. When the players attack, the animation often lacks impact and feels hollow, or has very little artistic flair beyond the bare minimum.
The enemies too lack motion, simple sprites with minimal, unimpressive animation fill the enemy roster every single time regardless of size, enemy type, or biome. The color palette also suffers as the look of the game looks quite flat, and lifeless. Some of the designs can look rather excellent, for the example the giant chicken men near the huge city, or undead maids from an early quest in the game. There are also absolutely bafflingly lazy designs such as one enemy literally being a square.
In a type of genre known for creating epic monster designs, and the beauty of nature, it’s a shame KOPAP 2 falls short
Overall, KOPAP 2 has the building blocks necessary for a good strategy game, potentially even great game, but is mired by increasingly repetitive combat and humor that often misses the intended mark. While it can be fun for a bit, it tends to bury itself in the ground due to too much backtracking and grinding, and the artstyle can be bland and straight up lazy at times.