1. The Shadow Sun
If there is a single perfect RPG on this list, it’s The Shadow Sun. Its entertaining plot, morally ambiguous side quests, and gorgeous setting (think Agrabah from Aladdin, but rotten to the core) would be enough to make it an instant classic, but the game also boasts a clever combat system complete with companion NPCs that complement your fighting style.
2. Aralon: Sword and Shadow
Crescent Moon Studios really understands what makes RPG games so enjoyable: solid quests, a fully explorable and engaging world, and buttloads of awesome treasure. Now that Aralon: Sword and Shadow is a few years past its initial release (the graphics are dated; you learn to deal), its price point has fallen below the five-buck mark, which makes this mobile gaming classic super accessible for anyone who hasn’t already fallen in love with the title.
No word on why price point is different for Apple and Android devices, but now is an amazing time to play Horn if you’re buying it from the App Store and haven’t already played. The game is solid and the visuals are great, but what separates Horn from the rest of the RPG pack is its gorgeous — truly, jaw-droppingly gorgeous — sound design. Everything from the chime of the Pygite cores to the deep, sonorous boom of Horn’s titular horn is impressively crafted.
Look, the premise of Lilli is pretty bizarre. It’s one of those “things are happening but don’t ask why” kind of games, which is to say that it’s very, very unique and enjoyable. It’s an RPG for pacifists who want to take down bad guys without racking up a body count (the combat system is literally picking flowers), but who also want an immersive environment to explore. For less than three bucks it’s completely worth the download.
Developer: Warner Bros.
Available on: iOS
If you’re into mobile RPGs, you’ve probably heard of Bastion by now. If you haven’t played the game, you’ve probably heard at least one of the songs off of its killer soundtrack. Bastion is consistently recognized as one of the best RPGs out there, with constant comparison to big-name releases like Final Fantasy. What sets Bastion apart is its brilliant and at times heart-wrenching storyline (you might cry a little and that’s OK).
6. Brave Frontier
Brave Frontier is a dungeon crawler with a play value so consistent it can lead to a pretty serious obsession. Like many JRPGS, it combines the fun of a dungeon crawler with a little bit of card collection and a whole lot of element-based battling. There is some multiplayer, tons of characters to meet and battle, and a very active community of Frontier addicts who will be right there beside you when you get hooked.
7. Thomas Was Alone
If you think a rectangle couldn’t you make you feel any important feels, then you’ve never played Thomas Was Alone. Hailed as brilliant and innovative upon its release, this trippy and introspective game has you playing as two-dimensional representations of artificial intelligence systems, which sounds absolutely bananas when you type it out in a sentence like that. It’s won awards; it deserves them. Try it out.
8. Inotia 3: Children of Carnia
Inotia is a Korean RPG series that emphasizes twisty plots and well-developed characters. The third title in the series, Children of Carnia, is a favorite because by the time Com2us USA got around to the third installment it had hammered out many of the first two games’ issues, which is to say it streamlined the storyline and added side quests that, while numerous, never seem to feel like you’re grinding through them.
Undercroft is deeply, deeply old school. Created by the same people who ruined your middle school GPA with Runescape, its classic style will be familiar for all those who have been playing RPGs since the dawn of time. There are quests, there is loot, and there is plenty of exploring to do — what else is there to ask for?
11. The Bard’s Tale
If you’ve ever wanted to be a true hero, then The Bard’s Tale is probably not your kind of game. You play as a lecherous, vaguely alcoholic bard whose quest to free a trapped princess is (not to spoil too much) almost literally pointless. Seeing as this game is a port from a Playstation 2/Xbox game from 2004, the graphics leave a lot to be desired, but its sardonic humor and replay value is timeless.
12. Sid Meier’s Pirates!
This port of the remake of the classic 1987 Pirates! game plays particularly well on the iPad, as the touch-screen controls make naval battles and the dance sequences (oh yes, there are dance sequences) easier to manage than with a handheld control. Like in the original game, you play as a ruthless pirate whose priorities include racking up mad gold, seducing various governors’ daughters, and seeking revenge on the pirate rogue who kidnapped your entire family.
13. Crusade of Destiny
With an absolutely open world, side skills, and the ability to keep your own music on while you explore the fantasy world of Crusade of Destiny, this title is perfect for casual gamers who want to have fun with an RPG without getting completely sucked in. The unique animation style makes for a different visual experience from most other 3D RPG games, which is always a plus when all of those vaguely medieval settings start to look the same to you.
14. Pocket Legends
And finally, for those who don’t like playing their RPGs alone, we present Pocket Legends, a fully realized MMORPG for mobile. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and the constant updates from the team at Spacetime Studios ensures that there’s always something new for players of all levels. If you’re into PvP or co-op playing, then you might as well cancel all of your appointments for the next month and try out a game that delivers hard on both of those modes.
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