As we play offers the thought strands of the reviewer as they’re going through the game. This offers unique content for the reader so they can come to understand the conflicting feelings of the reviewer as they’re playing a game for the very first time. All feedback on this concept is welcome.

Before the days of roving cameras, dynamic, open worlds and full 3D graphics, the RPG was a very different animal. Titles like Eye of the Beholder and Lands of Lore were relatively linear and confined, yet – even in their simplicity – depicted vivid, fantastical landscapes that inspired a generation of gamers. These titles are now seen as grandparents to the likes of Skyrim, Legends of Grimrock and even Fallout 3.

Those titles were the definition of Dungeon Crawlers; fending off skeletal hordes and looting treasure chests, one screen at a time. All with less character interactions, limited quest-chains and only slight emotional responses from the AI. While these titles still elicit fond memories, they’ve become dated in terms of what we now expect from the genre

But over the last few years, nostalgia has crept into our gaming environment, and many old-school twists and turns are now cult and current. Whether publishers revisit classic IP and restore it with HD graphics, or just release titles in their original form, it’s as current to play a retro game as it is to engage with any major AAA blockbuster from a notorious, multi-million budget studio.

And then there are unusual hybrids like Paper Sorceror. A new game that revisits the core foundations of the RPG, but re-imagines it with all the resources available to a 21st Century developer. An independent title with limited advertising, targeting a fairly niche area of the market.

Certainly an intriguing, inspiring concept, but one that raises many questions. The most important of which, is it worth your time, energy and money when standards are so incredibly high and competition so unmercifully fierce?

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The games’ most striking feature is its art style. With a very limited color palette, Paper Sorceror is borderline black and white, with menus reminiscent of early Final Fantasy. That probably won’t sound attractive to anyone who has been used to far-reaching, panoramic views on mountain tops, but once a player casts an initial eye over the environment, it won’t repulse them either. The golden yellow, coal black backgrounds are enlivened with shadow, rather than sunlight and overbearing weather effects. And while the hand-drawn sketches give personality and depth to characters away from the writing, if a player pays close enough attention to certain areas, they’ll find hidden pathways and concealed entrances. There’s so much to take in, despite how simple the visuals may seem.

Paper Sorceror is extremely proud of its heritage, and while there are no set conditions required to ‘beat’ any of the floors you visit, simply avoiding roaming guards and climbing up to face the end-level boss is suicidal without any prior grinding or harnessing of technique. To survive, you’ll need practice and perseverance as the difficulty curve soon becomes brutal.

You’ll eventually assemble a band of 4 individuals to help see you through to the end, but who ends up by your side is entirely up to you. There will be a cast of characters to choose from, each one with their own special trait. For instance, you can choose to have a mighty, all-powerful Minotaur with fierce strikes, or a dainty Witch with healing properties. Maybe you fancy a sneaky, rogue-esque troll with high-damage output, or a ghost that reduces the stats of your enemies? Choose wisely, as this band will stay with you throughout the course of the game and can not be changed. Tactics will need to be considered early on in order to make sure your efforts in the later stages of the game are not riddled with frustration. A surprisingly big decision at such an early point of the game.

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While it is feasible to finish the game with any set combination, it’s worth considering adding a caster and/or healer type in order to make things a bit easier on yourself. But some may relish a challenge and want to do things the hard way. Battles are turn-based, and your group will need to face down all types of opposition, such as skeletons, hedge wizards, wights and knights in shining armor. XP is rewarded for each kill and as your character levels up, they’ll get a new skill which can be used to turn the tide of the battle. Depending on the characters you’ve gone for, battles will obviously play out very differently, naturally making for a unique gameplay experience each run-through.

For such a budget price, there’s a lot of replayability to be had here and a decent amount of content to wade through. Yes, the environments are repetitive and the aim of the game is simple, but there’s a decently told narrative at the heart of Paper Sorcerer, the action moves along seamlessly without any major faults or errors, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. You can’t say fairer than that.

Areas for Development

  • Some menu clicking issues. Double-clicks don’t always work properly
  • Graphic options do not save.
  • Regular typos in the text

Final Analysis

Paper Sorcerer is a fantastic trip down memory lane. It’s a game full of content and fresh challenges and will go down as one of a few great Kickstarter success stories. An old-school RPG with new-age features, Paper Sorceror recognizes where it came from and unashamedly flaunts it every chance it gets. And at a bargain price, it’s a nostalgic ride worth a slight financial risk

Technical Competency – 7/10

Graphical State/Sound Quality – 8/10

Network Stability – N/A

Overall – 7.5/10

(These grades assess our playthrough, taking into consideration how many (if any) bugs were encountered, whether there were any interruptions in gameplay and the product’s final technical state. These scores, coupled with the Final Analysis and Areas for Development, are suggestions for future patches and updates which the developers could (and in our opinion, should) explore. These scores are separate to our DLC/Expansion Reviews but link into our Patch/Firmware Reviews.)

(These scores are not designed as a grading system to determine the entertainment value of a product and should not be treated as such..)

Issues you’ve encountered

- No sound volume options
- Sometimes enemies aren’t woken up from sleep the way they’re meant to.
- When fighting large groups of enemies, some of them are situated at the edges of the screen.
- When you hit those enemies, damage numbers appear in the wrong place
- Sometimes status effects expire unexpectedly