I can describe Knights of Pen and Paper as a Dungeons & Dragons simulator instead of your typical RPG. There is no exploration or movement. It is all menu and dialog based. The map is pretty segmented like a Mario map and there are not maps so much as there are quests. These quests revolve around typical and simplified RPG turn based combat. The catch is you also play your own dungeon master, so you can select your enemies to fight and how many you will fight. Its as if you’re making your own busy work. The classes feel balanced, but the battles begin feel too long for the never ending grind that this game becomes. Unless you want to spend real money to buy in game gold.
The game has a lot of personalization. You start the game selecting characters and their classes. Each character has its own passive ability and then you assign a class. You can only have one of a class per party. Each class has 4 upgradeable abilities, some are passives like regenerate HP per turn and most are combat abilities. When you level up through experience defeating enemies, you can level up a skill. Leveling up skills increases the MP they use, so its a double edged sword where eventually you can only use a skill once or twice before you need to rest or use potions. There are items that will regenerate MP and HP along with increase maximums.
The combat abilities feel useful. Paladins have a leader strike that is a powerful attack. The strike will increase their threat to enemies driving the majority of attacks to that character. To balance the attention, the paladin has a temporary shield power, a flash heal for themselves and devotion that increases the base HP. A cleric can heal the entire party or focus healing on one character. They can also use a smite skill that damages an enemy and heals themselves. To round things out there is a weakening spell to debuff enemy attack power for three enemies. Mages have a single enemy damaging fireball that will burn them, damaging HP each turn. They also have a deep freeze that damages and stuns an enemy. Mages also have a meteor that damages an entire enemy party and finally a passive stream that increases the base MP. I can’t cover all the classes, but they feel well rounded.
The classes have to feel well rounded, because the game is nothing but combat. A chess game between you and enemies that you chose to fight. The game has plenty of quests to give you and you can tackle them one at a time. Nothing that will stump you, since all the ‘quests’ seem to be collect X amount of Y or defeat X amount of Y enemies. Escort X from point A to B and then fight a battle. It wouldn’t seem like such a grind if your travel had more exploration instead of moving along a line from location to location. There is some banter along the way, but its just your party sitting at a table facing a dungeon master with different beautiful backgrounds. The battles get long, even with better equipment. It gets frustrating when you complete a quest to kill 7 plants only to get another quest to kill 9 plants. Then that quest followed by another quest to get 19 carrots. How? By killing the same plants you’ve just slaughtered. You can always pick your quests, but its useless when you’ll end up doing them all anyway.
When you visit a town, you don’t walk to a store, you just click on an icon that will open up the store. The items are nice. Upgrading weapons and armor involves a gambling system. Sure it costs 150 gold to have a blacksmith upgrade your gear, but there’s only a 35% chance he’ll succeed. Seems like a gamble and a waste of gold. The blacksmith will get better with every try . You can even increase the blacksmith’s experience by using grindstones that you’ll buy or find in caves.
That leads me to warn you of this. Microtransactions. Why grind for gold when you can just buy it with real life money? The microtransactions aren’t in your face or annoying, but they are there and some people have problems with that. If you want gold, go kill some enemies, there’s nothing else to do in the game.
If someone in your party dies, that costs gold. Since resurrection costs gold, when your party gets wiped out and you don’t have enough gold to resurrect one of them, that’s it. It was originally a gameover, because the game will save itself preventing you from going back to a previous point when your party was alive. So you’d have to buy gold with real life money. Luckily, there is now a free continue that will resurrect everyone, but reset their level experience. I’m thankful of that. If you don’t want to grind to level up your characters, you can always buy experience with gold. There is always a need for gold. Whether its experience, resurrection, traveling, or gambling to upgrade your equipment. Oh and don’t forget buying stuff.
At some point, this game is busy work and you know some people are ok with that. In all, I would say its a fun game, but other RPGs are better. Since this is trying to be a Dungeons & Dragons simulator without being a true RPG its just lacking in some areas.