Welcome to another installment of the Speculative Spotlight, in which I scour the multiverse for hefty chunks of speculative fiction awesomeness. This month, the spotlight falls on a charming mobile game called Knights of Pen & Paper.
What Is It?
Knights of Pen & Paper comes from Brazilian developer Behold Studios, and it's garnered a lot of attention for a small indie game in the crowded mobile space. Upon its release in October last year, the game found its way into the hands of the popular gaming press, earning a few prominent feature articles. From there word of mouth propelled it toward success and acclaim, earning a nomination for the "Student Showcase" award at the 2013 Independent Games Festival awards.
Essentially, Knights of Pen & Paper is a roleplaying game about playing roleplaying games. Rather than imagining that you're a mighty warrior saving the world, this game asks you to imagine that you're part of a group of tabletop gamers pretending they are mighty warriors saving the world. Very meta, yes? You control both the party and the dungeon master as the game progresses, and you get to watch as the humble living room they've gathered in comes to life around them, transforming to reflect the imaginary creatures and quests from their game, most of which are pulled straight out of the classic fantasy tropes at play in books and RPGs. If you're anything like me, you're already sold. If not, read on.
What's So Awesome About It?
Speaking of those battles, if you're an old-school RPG fan, the gameplay itself will hit your nostalgia buttons as well. The battle sequences are turn-based affairs, with your party gaining experience points as you progress through the game, allowing you to increase the attributes of each character as they level up and grow more powerful. There's a huge world map to explore, towns and castles to visit, multistage quests to follow, and item vendors to spend your loot on. In the middle of all this goodness, you also get surprisingly clever writing, with little nods to gamers and fantasy fans sprinkled throughout.
And while you're managing the armor and inventory of your party's characters, you can also upgrade various aspects of the "real world" side of the game. For instance, you can buy accessories and eye candy for your gaming table, or even a brand new table altogether. You can also keep your party members well fed with snacks and beverages. Don't like your dungeon master? Hire a new one that looks like Yoda! And these items aren't just ornamental; they come with all kinds of effects and buffers that will boost your dungeon-clearing abilities in the game.
As of right now, I'd say that Knights of Pen & Paper is easily my favorite mobile game. If it sounds like your cup of tea as well, you can grab it in the Apple app store for iOS devices or on Google Play for Android devices. If you're not a fan of playing games on your tablet or phone, don't worry. Behold Studios recently announced they're working on a "+1" edition of the game for Windows, Mac, and Linux that will be here soon.