Developer - Behold Studios/Seaven Studio
Publisher - Plug In Digital
Platform - Android, iOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch [version tested], PS4, Windows, XBoxOne
Price - £Various
Genre - Turn-based RPG
You may have heard - the Nintendo Switch is quite popular. Games have been flocking to the system from all sorts of other consoles: the Wii (Go Vacation), PS360 (L.A. Noire), 3DS (Layton's Mystery Journey), arcade (Sky Skipper), the Wii U (don't get me started) and mobile (Old Man's Journey). We're in the mobile camp with Knights Of Pen And Paper +1 Deluxier Edition, a turn-based RPG like no other (except its sequel, review here).
Both Knights Of Pen And Paper games are essentially Dungeons & Dragons. In the foreground of every screen is a table with two to five players and a Game Master facing out. In the background is their current location, which could include NPC's or enemies. There are two levels of character customisation: you first select the human you want to be - including nerd, hipster, and schoolteacher - and then the character class you want to be in the game, like paladin, cleric, witch, or mage. Each human comes with their own passive skill, like adding one to all dice rolls, with each character class having their own talents and spells, like heals, fireballs, or multi-hit attacks.
Once your team is set up you can take on quests, side- or otherwise. This nets you experience and gold, making you more powerful, which gives you access to more destinations and quests. There's a story to follow but, as in real D&D, distractions are always just around the corner, although the next plot-relevant location is always marked with a star. On the other hand you shouldn't skip the side-quests, as you'll end up under-levelled. KOPAP+1DE demands that you keep your level or player count topped up at all times, so it's handy that you're playing as the Game Master at the same time. You can set up a random battle with up to five enemies at any location, which will boost your stats/bank balance/treasure hoard.
There's humour, too, with some good lines and witty parodies. Fights can get repetitive, though, particularly as characters only have up to four spells (and most don't, as one of the traits you can choose to power up is a passive skill) and there are no lengthy journeys or puzzle elements. Dungeons are a rare treat: they open up and let you pick your path to, usually, a boss fight. The contents of most rooms are decided by the roll of an in-game twenty-sided die, and could be a trap, a fight, healing balms or treasure. Just - be prepared to do a lot of turn-based fighting.
That's a double-edged sword (don't pardon that pun, it was awful). You can fire through a few battles on the bus/tube/train/horse and carriage, but it doesn't stand up well to long playing sessions, with boredom a definite factor. The game betraying its mobile origins, really. Continuing in that vein, the graphics do not look good on the TV screen. I'm all for pixel art - Celeste and Shovel Knight are beautiful things - but KOPAP+1DE is not in their league, being a little too rough around the edges to truly impress. 7.8/10 - too much pixel.
Whilst we're on the subject of flaws, the music. There are few tunes to choose from and most of them are - you guessed it - quite repetitive, although the fight music bounces along nicely. The game's use of symbols to explain what's at a location is poor. In-game shops are represented by a cauldron, for example, which I avoided for ages as I thought it would be some kind of crafting element. Most unfortunate of all, though, is the fact that the game outstays its welcome. As the DLC campaigns were added to the end of the original main quest, it feels bloated. That's not a good look for anyone, let alone a cheerful little RPG like this.
IMPORTANT ADVICE PARAGRAPH The fact that it's easy to tire of Knights Of Pen And Paper +1 Deluxier Edition tells you that I played it incorrectly. If you approach it in short bursts - perhaps as a companion to your main game - you will get a lot out of it. Trying to rush through it will only lead to boredom, resentment, and arguably the worst thing you can feel about a game: a sense of duty to complete it, rather than wanting to beat it because it's fun.
Final Verdict: An upbeat, funny RPG with a huge number of customisation options, Knights Of Pen And Paper +1 Deluxier Edition needs to be played carefully to get the most out of it. A great game for the undocked Switch... but maybe not something to sit in front of the TV and play for hours on end. It may be worth waiting for the sequel, which smooths some of the rough edges away.