A long time ago, on a spaceship far, far away. No, hang on. Actually, it was only a couple of days ago, sat in front of the television with a game controller in my hands. However, it still makes for a more dramatic entrance. Despite it only being recently and within my house, I still embarked on an adventure though, one that saw me explore vast regions of space, touch-down on alien worlds and engage in combat; both in space and planet side. How did I achieve such a feat? Well, by playing Galaxy of Pen & Paper +1 Edition as it launches on the Nintendo Switch, of course.
Developed by Behold Studios and published through Plug In Digital, this sci-fi adventure follows in the same vein as the developer’s previous title Knights of Pen & Paper. By this, I mean that the game revolves around a group of friends who gather around to play a table-topped, role player complete with a Dungeon Master (known as the Galactic Master here), dice rolling mechanics and stat busting scenarios to determine your fortune and progress across a galaxy-wide adventure. Set within the bedroom of your host, the GM and two friends fly through an episodic journey that flits between the scenery changes of the imagination and real-world interruptions to keep you from entering zero gravity.
Your first task is to pick a look for your group of friends, from the GM who sets the scene and their two friends who live-out the scenarios. With the GM, you can pick from a series of costumes that are instantly recognisable from a series of sci-fi franchises, whilst the adventurers hold a series of looks, styles and classes; each one affecting their base value of stats from health, shields, combat and so on. Once selected, the three friends then find themselves transported to a distant planet through the descriptions of the GM. They then describe the scene, setting and events, whilst you make a series of choices of where, why and what you want to do next.
If you’re a veteran of the Knights of Pen & Paper series of games, then you’ll be instantly familiar with many of the mechanics on offer here. However, there’s a lot more refinement, content and gameplay available here, creating a more enjoyable and less grindy journey, as well as a host of upgrades, abilities and inter-planetary movement that feels it contains a much greater scale than previous titles. Based on your choices, decisions and scene setting from the GM, you interact with characters NPCs, take on a series of quests and side missions, explore regions, travel across planetary maps, fly across solar systems, as well as partake in space and ground based combat in a turn-based mechanic.
As the GM sets the scene and advances the story, you need to travel to certain locales; both in space and on planets. This brings a number of levels and produces a more expansive playing area than previously experienced. Each of the locales change the background settings of the bedroom; whether it be an alien base or landscape, the interior of a space ship or space station, or whether taking part in space or land combat. As you travel from area to area, a dice roll determines whether you come across a random event, whether it be a combat scenario or an event that requires a decision. Once you reach your destination, usually depicted through a mission objective or side quest, the GM then details the outcome of the scenario; usually resulting in some form of combat.
In a turn-based mechanic, your party lies up on one side of the screen and faces off against your opposition. Depending on the story, or mission requirements, you then have to fight a number of enemies, foes or boss-types. For instance, the objective for a particular skirmish may to defeat five enemies. You can then choose how many enemies to face off against; the lesser amount creating an easier task, but with less reward, whilst more enemies makes for a tougher fight, but with more XP and monetary gains. In order to try and make life a little easier, your team, as well as some enemies, possess a number of combat moves, shields and items that determine the flow of combat. You can choose from basic attacks, specials that use SP and items to refill health, SP or both.
As well as these options within combat, you can also equip each party member with weaponry, armour and items to give your stats a boost. When it comes to special moves though, you can also chop and change these, as and when progression allows, to fully outfit each party member so that they can complement each other and work as a team. However, the game doesn’t explain all of its equipping mechanics in a detailed way, making outfitting a trial-and-error mechanic. It all starts off at an easy pace, but as you progress, the amount of abilities and items can become a little overwhelming; especially as your party grows, although through more play and experimenting, you soon find an effective combination and get used to the general mechanics of how each ability works.
Once you get to grips with everything that the game has to offer, from outfitting to map traversals, space flight and combat, the game open to produce a compelling adventure that sci-fi fans will revel in. At every opportunity, the game goes to great lengths to include as many references or jokes to the whole world, or galaxies, of science fiction media. These can be found in all manner of places, from dialogue jokes and references, to costumes and settings and even posters and models around the bedroom that relate to Alien, Star Wars and Star Trek. It really is a sci-fi geeks trove of treasures and one of the aspects of the game I truly enjoyed. Not that I’m a geek or anything!
Overall, Galaxy of Pen & Paper +1 Edition offer the same playable premise as Knights of Pen & Paper, but builds on its template even further to produce a more epic scale and enjoyable adventure. Its sci-fi settings are perfect for its style of gameplay, presenting a series of interesting places to visit, combat scenarios and mechanics to master. It’s also a better balanced game than the Knights series, with less grinding in order to be successful, although there are moments where certain enemies may be too much and you need to embark on side-quests to level up. The whole of the production values are also ramped up significantly, with more detailed environments and characters, plus a rousing soundtrack that fits the subject matter of its space setting. If you’re a fan of sci-fi, or enjoyed playing the Knights series of Pen & Paper games, then you’ll seriously get a lot more out of this game. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that it’s even stellar!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Galaxy of Pen & Paper +1 Edition Review
Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Replay Value - 9/10
Galaxy of Pen & Paper +1 Edition takes you on a role-playing journey of galactic-sized fun.