I’ve always enjoyed the clever conceit behind Knights of Pen & Paper, which has you playing as a party of tabletop roleplayers. With your collection of characters at the bottom of the screen and the dungeon master sat across the table from them, weaving the tale for their imaginations to see, these are games with a quirky and surreal sense of humour.
Unfortunately, two games and a few expansion packs in, this running joke is starting to wear a little thin. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very well done and a nice mobile-friendly spin on the RPG game, but it’s difficult to really add to the set up and what’s gone before. Not that this has stopped Kyy Games from giving it their best shot with Knights of Pen & Paper 2: Here Be Dragons.
If anything, what was already a pastiche of a rather traditional fantasy RPG has been taken down an even more classical route. It’s a story of kings, princesses, castles and dragons, as the gates to Expandria quickly get forced open, and you head off to investigate reports of a large explosion behind the wall which had kept this area off limits so far.
However, as is Paradox Interactive’s wont, some parts of the expansion are free for all to enjoy. In this case, the freebies include an Bestiary which, once a particular foe’s entry has been completed by killing enough of them, gets you a slight damage boost, as well as the new Knight class and the Bookworm roleplayer characters.
After completing a short quest line, the Knight adds another ‘tank’ character class into the mix, giving you someone who can really take the hits and dish out plenty of damage of their own. Of course, there’s already a few of those in the game, such as the Barbarian or the Paladin, but taking damage really is the Knight’s forte. Second Skin passively reduces incoming damage, while Discipline passively splits it between your health and energy bars. Bulwark raises their threat characteristic quite significantly, making them much more of a target, and leaving just a single ability that boosts your basic damage.
The Knight’s also a perfect fit for the classical fantasy theme, which has you doing the bidding of kings and princesses, and tackling the renewed dangers of dragons, which we previously believed extinct. Of course, that’s not the case at all, and fighting these dragons provides a nice change of pace from the seemingly endless battles that fill out the rest of this roughly 4 hour long campaign.
While those who have completed the main game will be able to breeze through most of this – the new campaign starts at level 25 and quickly climbs up to the high 30s – on the few occasions where you find yourself fighting a dragon, doing so at a comparable level provides a stern challenge. These huge creatures take up the entire screen, with attacks that can deal vast amounts of damage, but on top of this, there are modifiers such as the Dragon Aura, which transfers modifiers back to your party, or the Dead Zone which prevents you reviving party members. The climactic battle is a particularly stern and borderline unfair test, which needs a dose of luck to succeed at.
Unfortunately, Expandria is a rather small new area. There’s the kingdom’s wall, a castle, a nearby swamp and a cave which features a new randomised dungeon – which remains a very clever and well implemented idea – but outside of a few instances where you’re sent back off to the original game’s map, you’ll find yourself tramping back and forth between them constantly. The expansion also adds some new enemies to fight against, such as the bizarre looking Pugbear and Attack Beavers, but you see them far too often so that, when they should have been adding more variety, they become a part of the monotony of repeating the same battle tactics over and over.
It’s a shame, because it saps some of the charm from the adventure. Though I was more than happy to run errands for Princess Iridia and there were a few chuckles to be had at some of the quirky plot twists, I quickly got fed up of being mistaken for enemies or confronted by jesters whenever I returned from whatever little fetch quest or mission I’d been on.
Here Be Dragons does what it says on the tin, and for £1.50 on iOS and Android or £3.99 on PCs, it will a few hours of playtime and a new quest with plenty of knowing humour, silly jokes and, of course, dragons. Just don’t expect more than something you can tap your way through to kill some time, and you’ll not be disappointed.