App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Galaxy of Pen and Paper is the sci-fi version of Behold Studios's fantasy tabletop role-playing games (RPGs), Knights of Pen and Paper and Knights of Pen and Paper 2. It offers the same quirky setup and dialogue of nerds playing out their own pen and paper RPG, but this time all of the action is in space. Further, where the Knights versions of these games offered light, fun, and quick RPG action, Galaxy of Pen and Paper gets a little more ambitious, but is mostly worse off for it.
Cosmic character sheets
Every Pen and Paper game distinguishes itself by placing the role-players and the dungeon master at the forefront of the game. These characters are constantly on display at the bottom of your play screen and are represented as any typical Dungeons and Dragons group gathered around a table. As players take on quests, fight monsters, and travel, the top-half of the screen animates to put your players and characters right into the sci-fi epic they're trying to live out. All the while, your role-players and dungeon master make pithy comments full of sci-fi references and jokes.
On this top half of the screen, you'll see and do things like travel between different solar systems, speak with all matter of different lifeforms, and duke it out with some of the galaxy's fiercest foes. Most of this action should feel pretty familiar to seasoned RPG players and doubly-so for players of the Knights of Pen and Paper games. You can expect plenty of simplified turn-based combat, random encounters, and even some ship-to-ship warfare as you move from quest to quest.
Throughout your playthrough of Galaxy of Pen and Paper, you are given quite a bit of freedom to determine who your characters are, where they go, and what they do. You can make your characters whoever you want them to be (and even make new ones when you want), and there are all sorts of different quests to complete, creatures to fight, and places to go at virtually any time when playing.
All of this freedom sounds like a good thing, but it actually tends to work against Galaxy of Pen and Paper. It seems as though the tradeoff for letting players do anything and be anyone they want is a set of character classes that don't feel all too special, quests that are all variations of “kill this thing,” and an overwhelming sense of pointlessness when it comes to doing anything other than the game's main set of quests.
Even if you only stick to Galaxy of Pen and Paper's main quest though, there are larger issues at play that keep it from approaching the quality of the Knights of Pen and Paper games. The first of these is that Galaxy of Pen and Paper is a lot less of a mobile-friendly game. It must be played in landscape mode, and it has unusually long boot and load times.
In addition to this, Galaxy of Pen and Paper has some bugs and other issues that make it frustrating and confusing to play. During my time with the game, I found a couple instances where I had to force quit the app because the game became totally unresponsive. At other times, it was unclear to me whether Galaxy of Pen and Paper does a terrible job of explaining its systems or if its system and ability descriptions are simply not accurate. If that weren't enough, the game's combat is extremely slow. Enemies have noticeable delays between attacks and animations, which can make certain fights feel like they last twice as long as they should.
The bottom line
If Galaxy of Pen and Paper were simply a sci-fi reskin of Knight of Pen and Paper, it would be a fine–although underwhelming–game. As is stands now though, almost everything Galaxy of Pen and Paper does to differentiate itself seems to either make it perform worse or find some other way to be frustrating. Simply put, if you're looking for a sci-fi RPG to enjoy, look elsewhere. This is not the game you're looking for.