Galaxy of Pen and Paper (PC) [Review]

Galaxy of Pen and Paper takes the formula of the previous two Knights of Pen and Paper games and goes where no man has gone before-- space! Or to be specific, sci-fi parody space!

You see, in both Knights and_ Knights II_ played with a very interesting premise, and that is that the entire game you were playing is a tabletop Dungeons and Dragons-style adventure being played by a dungeon master and his friends (which are fully customizable, adding a layer of fun personalization to your game). The whole game itself exists in the imaginations of these characters, which is a fun device that adds a lot to the game. These two games also reveled in some pretty witty and fun and extremely self-aware dialog and of course, Galaxy of Pen and Paper is no different, with entertaining real-world asides from the players and DM interspersed with the game's actual story itself. The whole thing is a light and fun affair that is entertainingly written, full of references to Star Wars, Star Trek,_ Doctor Who_ and hell, even The Magic School Bus. If anything will keep you playing this game it'll be for the story and see what jokes Galaxy of Pen and Paper will throw at you next. It's just as equally stellar in the graphics department as well, full of crisp, large, and well-animated sprite work that just looks excellent. Pixel graphics is a style that is done to death (especially for indie games like this) but when you do them this good that isn't really an issue. Musically it bucks the retro aesthetic and goes for high-quality instrumental tracks that sound great, fit the tone of the game, and are fairly catchy. Galaxy of Pen and Paper excels in all these categories.

Unfortunately though, it falters in the place that's the most important, the gameplay. You see, since you are playing as not just the adventuring party but also the dungeon master, all of the battles must be generated by you by picking the available monsters for an area off of a list, which does allow for an interesting risk/reward dynamic (how many creatures do I think I can handle for cash and prizes?) it creates a huge disconnect between the game's story and the meat of the game. Everything basically bottlenecks to a point where you are going to have to kill x amount of y creatures to advance the story, making the actual battle gameplay feel like busywork to get to the stuff that's good (the plot and the jokes). Sure the battle system is a fully featured affair with different skills and stats and all that stuff but the way that the encounter creating works it just sucks the fun right out of it because the game doesn't feel like a cohesive whole unit. It's the kind of formula that might work really well for a mobile game you can play on the go, where you can drop in and out for a couple battle you get to specify the complexity of, but as a game I have to sit down at my computer to play it kinda has all the fun of ticking in boxes on a spreadsheet, which is a shame, because Behold Studios previous game Chroma Squad  was fantastic fun, and also played with a similar real-life TV show/ imaginary sentai battles dual layer concept. That experience gelled into a cohesive whole, where Galaxy of Pen and Paper does not.

There's really fun writing, great pixel art graphics, and wonderful music in Galaxy of Pen and Paper. It's too bad you'll have to stomach some pretty tepid and mechanically dissonant gameplay to experience it. I'd honestly recommend picking up Chroma Squad instead.


This game was reviewed via digital download code provided by the game's developer or publisher.

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