I recently had a chance to play around with the upcoming Knights of Pen & Paper 2 from Paradox Interactive. I was a huge fan of the first game, so I had a lot of expectations going into it - and I wasn't disappointed. The game has gotten some serious upgrades including a sweet jump to 16bit graphics, new dynamically generated dungeons, and expanded crafting systems for equipment.

At first glance it's very similar to its predecessor. You create a team of unlikely friends (such as the goth, lab rat, or surfer) to play a thrilling, pop-culture infused RPG under the guidance of an ever-patient game master. Each character has a unique look. I chose the Hipster, since he has a striking resemblence to comedian Tom Lennon.

Everyone can choose to be a human, elf, or dwarf - giving them different powers and changing their stats, ears, or beard sizes accordingly. All the usual classes are present, like warrior, thief, and cleric, but there are some new and different unlockables like the mysterious ninja.

Things start simply with tasks like fetching apples, but soon enough the real showpieces emerge: delvable dungeons are now included! The game master will randomly generate a dungeon to explore with treasure to uncover, traps to avoid, and monsters around every corner. This is a really cool addition as it makes questing much more challenging. You never quite know what each room will hold and you can't camp while in a dungeon, so you have to be strategic about the supplies you bring and how far you're willing to go on your last hit point.

There's also a crafting system that lets you combine items to creat better equipment. There are recipes to follow, but if you're a trailblazer you can try to create your own. Just be careful or else you'll only end up crafting a hot mess.

While you're in town be sure to visit the new tavern and drop off unwated adventurers to make room in your party. This comes in handy when you've filled all your seats and a new class is suddenly available to you. Your discarded party member will hang out until you come back to pick them up. There's also the new stash, where you can store items to make room in your inventory so you don't have to throw away valuable crafting materials just because you want to pick up that shiny new +1 to initiative loin cloth.

The improvements and new features really add a lot of depth and fun to Knights of Pen & Paper 2. I was only able to play through the tutorial campaign, but I'm super-excited to see what else is in store. It's obvious that Paradox has put a lot of love and thought into this. I even found myself excitedly looking for refrences like Steve's axe from Minecraft stuck in a cave wall.

Paradox is looking to release Knights of Pen & Paper 2 on May 14, but if you can't wait to see the simulated dice roll you can also check out AppSpy's hands-on video below.

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