Knights of Pen and Paper 2
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Developer: Kyy Games
Release Date: 10/20/2015
A couple of years ago, I reviewed the original KOPP. I thought it was fun and unique, but lacked the depth required to push it over the top. The developers for that game, Behold Studios, moved on to make the excellent Chroma Squad. The reigns to KOPP’s future was handed over to Kyy Games, who previously did a DLC expansion for the first game.
With a new developer at the helm, and a promising first game to work off of, does KOPP 2 make the evolutionary leap to take the series to the top?
Much like the last game, it all starts with a lonely DM at an empty table. You’ll make a couple of characters with some expanded options. You can now choose the race of your characters, so you can have a cheerleader elf cleric and a jock dwarf paladin on your team. There are bonuses for both what person you go with, as well at what race. For example, human characters get a free stat point at the start of the game.
The story this time revolves around chasing a man known as the Paper Knight. It seems this fellow is cheating by using second edition rules in a first edition format. This allows him to use super powered weapons, enslave gnomes into making him XP potions, and extort towns for money. Yep. This time the whole story is completely meta. It doesn’t really go anywhere particularly interesting, but it’s chock full of pop culture references to keep you chuckling from time to time. At the very least, any RPG enthusiast can appreciate the horror of having to suddenly buy all new books when a new edition is released.
Perhaps the biggest overhaul the game has gotten in a completely new and improved set of graphics. It still uses pixel art, but it’s clear the look was made to mimic a series moving from NES to SNES. Everything is bigger and more detailed, and it all looks great. There’s a lot more room for artistic expression, allowing for some pretty darn unique looking characters. The game does get a bit too light on the enemy variety per area, but that’s a rather small complaint. It still could use a lot of work in the animations department though. Some special moves, like a tornado used by the Paper Knight, look great. It’s just the exception rather than the rule.
There’s nothing quite like MIDI music to get you into a nostalgic mood. This game carries a suite of generic, but satisfying tunes throughout it’s length. They get repetitive, but not too bad. Perhaps the coolest thing the music does is change up based on the difficulty of the fight you’re in. Easy fights have lighter tunes, while boss fights have a faster beat and a darker tone. It’s really well done. As for effects, they’re appropriately tinny and generic. You’ll grow tired of the sound of rolling dice pretty quickly.
KOPP 2 has a fairly dramatic change in philosophy compared to its predecessor. It might seem like things haven’t changed much, but the reality is a shift to more complex gameplay with less room for customization. Instead of creating the quest you want to complete, you simply select one from a short list. While you can still choose to fight some battles in whatever order you want, the number of pre-arranged fights is significantly higher. The result actually takes away from what made the game so unique to begin with, and leaves the player with just an unusual JRPG.
Basically, each town is a hub. You can visit the shop, rest at the inn, fight some battles, or take on a quest. When you take a quest, your options are limited to story quests and side quests. Side quests are optional of course, but you can earn bonus experience or maybe unlock some new classes by completing them. Once again, your gold carries over between saves, so you can start a new game with a filled out table and with a whole new strategy. It adds greatly to the replay value.
Combat is straight forward. You can attack, use a skill, use an item, or defend. The UI has been cleaned up a bit so that you don’t have to open up a skill menu to use one of your abilities. Instead, they’re simply put up front with the rest of the options. Each class still has four skills they can use, some being passive. You can level these up as you choose, but a good mix is usually the best call.
There’s a greater focus this time around on using abilities that cause negative status effects. Typical effects include burning, weakness, and poison. Pretty much every class can cause one of these, and they often have abilities that get stronger if the enemy has one of these effects. To counter this, enemies are more likely to avoid the effect or shrug it off on their next turn.
How you equip your group is now even more important. You no longer have to equip anything in particular. You have a limited number of equipment slots and a limited number of trinket slots. You can fill them any way you wish. For example, my thief had three equipment slots. I chose to give him two daggers and a piece of armor. Had I wished, I could have given him three daggers or three pieces of armor. Each item has various passive effects as well, such as boosting your critical rate, lowering your threat, or giving you a chance to cause a negative status effect. Items can be upgraded through the crafting process as well.
Speaking of which, you have a crafting mechanic to contend with. Many items in the game can only be gotten through crafting, so getting recipes and trying out things at random is key. It’s not an overly deep mechanic, but the limited number of items in the shop will bring you here to try and get that last bit of improvement. New recipes can be gotten by exploring each location. This involves rolling dice to get clues to a treasure chest. It opens when you have enough clues. These chests may give you any kind of item, but unique recipes are a common sight here.
If you don’t try to experience everything the game has to offer, the main story can take you about six hours to finish. After that, you’re free to finish up any side quests, but there’s no real post-game content this time around. Also, since you can’t create your own quests, the game is essentially over when all the available ones are gone. This game simply doesn’t have the value it’s predecessor had in that department.
It is worth noting, before we wrap things up, that this game doesn’t try to get you with micro transactions. It seems that way at first, as there is a character class locked away until you pay up what appears to be five bucks. However, it turns out this is actually just five in game gold, which is pretty damn cheap. Many people have gotten the wrong idea here, myself included. It’s worth bringing up here to help clear any confusion.
Short Attention Span Summary
KOPP 2 makes some improvements over its predecessor in terms of presentation and the complexity of gameplay. It’s a little less casual, and a little more dolled up. However, in doing so, it kind of loses the thing that made the series unique. Not being able to create your own quests is a serious letdown, and the game’s story just isn’t good enough to make up for that. Still, the game has some decent replay value and a solid enough set of mechanics. It might not be quite where we were hoping the series would go, but it’s worth a look for less serious minded RPG enthusiasts.
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