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Galaxy of Pen and Paper

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Behold Studios
Developer: Behold Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Classic/Retro/ RPG/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Fans of Behold Studios' previous two games rejoice as the party goes to space! And by "party" we mean the role-playing kind, with an old-fashioned GM and players around a table. In space! The visual style remains unchanged, but the options for viewing it now extend beyond desktop or laptop, to mobile. Turns out this is a perfect format for the game. The new setting may be next-gen, but the graphics are still in line with 1999, the time period and setting for Galaxy of Pen and Paper.

Some visual enhancements since the last game include transitions during scene changes, mostly showing your brave crew going from ship to ship, or ship to planet. Unlike the classic RPG setting of the previous games, you'll be going where no role player has gone before, and there's plenty of variety. New planets and their alien denizens are all around, and you'll still have the opportunity to customize the room and table where your adventures take place. It feels overall like Behold is putting a bit more polish and special touches into the game, but Galaxy of Pen and Paper doesn't break with the formula, which is a great thing as far as we're concerned.


What drew us into the original game was the sense that the creators of the Pen and Paper series actually loved old-school tabletop RPG gaming and wanted to bring some semblance of it into more modern media. The slow pace, storytelling, and humor of a D&D or other paper RPG session makes it something special, quite different than the way we experience most video games today. There's a debt that modern RPG series like Final Fantasy owe to the older role-playing gameplay, which mostly comes down to character creation, determining chance, and event-based story progression. All that comes through here, and while you're reliving the memory of playing with friends around the table, you're actually playing out a game, which has a nice meta touch to it. There's a major storyline along with many side missions and new characters to unlock, so while Galaxy of Pen and Paper doesn't feel quite as epic as the average tabletop session, it offers quite a bit of depth.

The early hours of the game are spent just building up your characters and unlocking enough of their abilities to really understand how the game works. The story missions move you through the structure parts of the game, but you can always dial in your own missions or create battles with enemies. These help raise your party's level, and there are also some random encounters as you move through the world. Galaxy of Pen and Paper gives you some choices that are based in character attributes and generally lets you play your party with some sense of alignment. The depth of a full-blown paper game isn't here, and the focus is on battling enemies and exploring the star system, but there are plenty of missions, conversation, and items that serve as inside jokes for veteran role-players.


There are some challenging encounters that are scripted, especially early in the game, but for the most part, you'll decide how hard you want to make the experience. In your role as GM, you can decide which enemies, and how many enemies, your team will take on. In a case where you're hunting specific types, you can try to tackle all of your quota at once, or go slower and avoid killing off a party member. When you do the latter, you won't earn quite the same level of perks, so it always pays to go big and earn gold or experience.

Galaxy of Pen and Paper isn't a game that runs on rails, which may throw you if this is your first time checking out a game in the Pen and Paper series. There are cues within the interface to help guide you to the next objective or action, but you're always free to break away and do your own thing. The open quality of the map means that you can get yourself into territory where enemies seem a bit overpowered, which feels a bit new compared to the more limited map and travel options of past games. Suffice it to say that you can generally make the game as easy or as hard as you want it to be.

Game Mechanics:

The mechanics of a legacy RPG are unique, but easily recognized by fans of the more manual playing style. There's a lot of dice rolls that take place, not only during battle, but even as you're moving around, to determine random encounters. All of this happens without your intervention, which lets you focus on managing your characters during battle. The character development system involves skills you'll buy with points earned each time you level up, some that you trigger during battle, and others that provide a passive bonus. The controls are impossible at first to identify by sight, but holding your finger on any button provides an explanation, tooltip style.

Playing on a mobile device means that some of the PC-oriented controls don't feel quite as natural, but all actions felt responsive in the moment. The benefit of being able to take this game on the road far outweighed any quirkiness, and especially on a tablet there's very little about the experience that isn't equal to what you'd find on desktop. The best news is that there's another entry in the series, and that Galaxy of Pen and Paper continues the winning streak of its predecessors. Honestly, we could play several more of these, each in a new setting, so we're excited to see where Pen and Paper may be going after its adventures in space.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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