Knights of pen and paper +1 is a PC port of what is, at its heart, a very simple game. You play as both sides of a standard Dungeons and Dragons table, as both the Heroes and the Villains; the players and the GM.
Being no stranger to the worlds of roleplaying myself, I was curious to see how well this would work out, and was all in all pleasantly surprised. I found the game to be rather engaging, keeping me sat playing it for longer than I expected.
Playing the game gives you gold, a universal resource used both in game and out. The same gold that you get from killing enemies can be used to upgrade your GM's table cloth and buy snacks, or instead used to buy a new weapon for your rogue.
Gold is also used to add characters to the table, which come in various stereotypes like Annoying Little Brother, Min/Maxer (or powergamer to some) and Werewolves. Each type of character gets a unique bonus, and can pick a separate class, which you'll probably want to synergise with your bonus - the Werewolf has extra HP regen, so suits a tank class like Paladin quite well.
You can only have up to 5 players in the party at a time, but they can be swapped in and out relatively soon in the game. The overall goal, as always, is to complete quests, get better equipment, level up, and save the princess. (I assume there is a princess at least. Possibly more than one.)
Regardless, your task as the GM is to give players encounters they can reasonably fight, and help them to travel to other locations with different monsters of differering levels. As your group defeats monsters, they gain experience, levelling up and getting a skill point, which you can spend on one of your four skills. Larger quests with pre-defined monsters are also available, which can unlock extra classes or give you items.
There is a basic shared inventory of equipment, with each character being able to wear their own items, with none of the usual limits - want to wear 4 rings? Go for it! Some equipment can be bought, some must be upgraded at the blacksmith's, all of which costs gold of course.
This all sounds like the usual romp in DnD so far, but there were a few areas I wasn't as keen on. The quests, especially the multi-part quests, often had vastly differing level requirements; to go from a level 15 area to a level 25 was not uncommon, which of course led to a rapid death for your party (don't worry, they can be raised in a nearby town). This unusual quest progression caused me many problems, but i suppose it helps to give reasons for people to keep training their heroes beyond more loot. And it's worth pointing out that no matter what the storyline for the quest is, you'll only be killing things - often a lot of things. This isn't bad per se, but don't expect too much more from the game.
The character classes themselves were a bit underwhelming as well. Although I have to admit that the simplicity shown is probably a good thing given that many gamers will be new to this style of game, I was hoping for more than 4 abilities for each class; this is offset by the ability to switch party members in and out to try other combos, as well as the slow accumulation of new classes. Still, with only 4 skills/abilities, you'll soon find your winning combo, at which point the fights can get a little repetitive.
The game isn't mechanically difficult, and being a mobile port the UI is nice and easy to navigate and use. Once you've gotten the hang of it, battles can be quick and clean and you'll progress at a steady pace. The quests and overall writing is rather amusing, with your players occasionally making comments about the course of the battle or their recent level up. The graphics are of course very simplistic, basic animations and cartoony graphics - but of course, most of DnD is done without even that, or maybe with just a few models on a board. I choose to think it's an intentional point about roleplaying - the real fun is in your head.
And in fact, I'd say the game overall is somewhat insightful about the role of the GM and the players in a roleplaying game - everyone is there to have fun. I wouldn't quite call this an intro to proper tabletop RPG's, but it's definitely a nod and wink in that direction.
I can't really put my finger on what it is that makes this game so enjoyable though. It is definitely addicting; the desire to get a bit more gold to level up your weapon, or finally unlock the Bard class is a strong motivator. The game just feels very pleasant all around, with bright colours and chirpy music.
Overall, a solid, suprisingly long and engaging game with easy to grasp controls. Being a mobile port you won't find a tonne of depth, but it doesn't really need it, and feels pleasantly complete as a game. It's full of stereotypes and cliche's, but why fix what isn't broken? A lovely game for casual, fun play, and might even convince you to try DnD for yourself!