If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to listen in on a DnD campaign, complete with nerdy jokes, banter, and scientific postulations about plot loopholes, Galaxy of Pen & Paper makes it easy. Our narrators are three friends – one Game Master and two players – whose quest is to navigate the planets, space stations, and jelly monsters of a distant galaxy, transporting from the Game Master’s bedroom (in his mother’s house) through pen and paper.
The simplicity of Galaxy is one of its strongest features. Follow the quests, bopping around from planet to planet, fighting enemies, gathering items and bonuses to make your team stronger, and chatting with some interesting aliens if you’ve got time to kill. The turn-based fighting is pretty straightforward and so are the storylines. The aesthetic is pixilated and arcade-like, adding to the classic, nerdy feel.
The flourish comes from the dialogue. So often it seems like this is the last thing game designers think of, a smattering of banter icing on top as an afterthought. In Galaxy, the dialogue adds a twist of humor to every situation, reminds you not to take yourself too seriously if you get stuck on a difficult battle, and roots the game in believable characters and relationships.
I also love how closely the game mirrors RPG tabletop gaming, not just in gimmicks but in its overall structure. You start off by creating your characters, and your choices here actually do affect how well you’ll do in battle and what sort of options you’ll have along your journey. Random dice rolling is essential to combat and upgrades, and you can even occasionally make decisions as the Game Master about what situations to give your players.
This early in Galaxy’s creation, it unsurprisingly had some glitches. There were a couple that became pretty frustrating during gameplay, such as the ship-to-ship combat getting all jumbled up with the main storyline, so that there was a giant spinning dice rolling in the middle of a quest scene (a problem that could only be fixed by turning the game off and back on). There were a few other hiccups here and there, but hopefully these issues will get ironed out as the game kicks off its training wheels.
Don’t mistake the simplicity of this game for “easy”. There were plenty of battles that took several tries, and like real RPG tabletop games, you can’t just hit the reset button to start a combat over, rather losing some money as you wake up in the med bay. This was a little frustrating in Episode 1, before you’ve been given many choices about gadgets, players, and upgrades, but once you’re able to unlock new missions and team members, setting up your battles becomes more manageable and enjoyable.
Witty, unique, straightforward, and a quick learning curve – it’s an easy 9 out of 10.
Here is the Galaxy of Pen and Paper Launch Trailer:
Galaxy of Pen & Paper comes out on Steam today.