Top 9 Mobile RPGs
Want to lose yourself in another world on the bus to work? Here is our list of top 9 mobile RPGs, that deliver immersive experiences on the go.
Who knew that as we played the classic RPGs of the ’90s, like Baldur’s Gate, that we would one day be able to play them on our mobile devices? The genre has developed dramatically over the years and we now have a rich variety of RPGs, from classics to spin-offs and new ventures, that we can fill our phone’s memory with. So now let us explore some of the best offerings of mobile RPGs that are sure to keep you occupied in the dentist’s waiting room.
The RPG Criteria
Despite RPGs being a disparate genre with a broad spectrum of themes, settings, systems and roleplaying elements, they are ultimately story-driven experiences that aim to put you into the shoes of a character and pull you into an engaging story.
This article will focus on the mobile platform but we will stick to the genre conventions as well as factoring in how well the game handles on a touch screen device, and allowing for some limitations on the mobile device. With all that considered the criteria for our Top 9 Mobile RPGs:
- Mobile playability
- Combat systems
- Side quests and exploration
- Memorable characters
9 The ‘Sorcery!’ series
|Initial Release Date||2 May 2013|
|Platform||iOS, Android, Microsoft & OS X|
The first entry on the list is ‘Sorcery!’ is a unique RPG, where you track your journey across a 3d interactive map, make choices and combat various monsters. Put simply, Sorcery! Brings the endless fun of RPG ‘gamebooks’ to the video game genre.
The story is adapted from the popular gamebook of the same name by Steve Jackson and with such rich source material, Sorcery!’s story and the world are very engaging. You are thrown into the world of ‘Titan’ and you have been dispatched to retrieve the legendary ‘Crown of Kings’ from the villainous Arch-Mage.
The simplicity of the concept lends itself well to the mobile platform; as map-manipulation of dragging your character from one point to the next. The combat very much feels like the dice rolling actions of D+D and some gamebooks; a simple concept that is well executed.
If you have an itch for some classic ‘Game Book’ action and something easy to play on the train, then ‘Sorcery’ will provide endless hours of entertainment and enjoyable roleplaying.
8 The Elder Scrolls: Blades
|Initial Release Date||27 March 2019|
|Platform||iOS, Android, Nintendo|
|Developer||Bethesda Game Studios|
The amazing world of The Elder Scrolls comes to mobile with a purpose-built game, that attempts to replicate the first person, ‘board and sword’ combat and the story elements of the main console games to mobile. Being a dedicated mobile game and not a port, the game does very well when it comes to playability and optimisation.
The visuals are great; I was completely blown away by the landscapes and burning towns in the distance and graphics wise it is one of the most impressive looking mobile games that we have played. The game can also be played in landscape or portrait, meaning you can play with two hands or one as your real-world situation demands and I think this is where the game shines; it is a game that is designed to work perfectly in the mobile platform.
One of the best aspects of The Elder Scrolls is the world and its races and fans will be pleased to hear that character creation makes it to the game, allowing you to customise race, sex, and appearance. The beginning of the game introduces the main gameplay loop; kill things and then return to your village (your ‘Hub’), which you can name whatever you’d like.
Picking up quests and then clearing the requisite dungeons, before returning home is very satisfying when you deck your character out in newly forged armour and grow your village. Yes, there are ‘loot boxes’ but the game is very much playable without it and is certainly worth experiencing.
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7 Kingdom Hearts Union Cross
|Initial Release Date||3 September 2015|
|Platform||iOS, Android, Web Browser|
Set in the iconic Kingdom Hearts universe, a collaboration between Disney and Final Fantasy draws the player into a unique fairy tale, where you are the hero. Union Cross provides a good entry point for newcomers to the series, and the story is digestible and easy to follow.
You are a Keyblade wielder, who must face the hordes of ‘Heartless’ that is spreading across the lands in the days and months leading up to the ‘Keyblade War’. Despite the lightheartedness of the Disney components, Kingdom Hearts has always managed to earn a special place in people’s hearts and this game is no exception. The story is cheesy but lots of fun and with some great supporting characters, Kingdom Hearts manages to be a positive experience.
Union X has been well optimised for the mobile platform and so it would be difficult to fault this RPG on any points of accessibility. The combat is very simple but fun, but importantly is perfect for this format; simply taps and drags are all you need to decimate your foes and initiate special attacks.
Creating your avatar is a nice touch and a welcome boon to those who like such features in their RPGs. The game is free to play and does feature elements of microtransactions, however as they are very unnecessary, this will be of little concern to most players. There is a multiplayer raid mode, which is a nice touch and allows teams of players to take on ‘Raid’ bosses together and increases the repeatability of the game. What are you waiting for, Key up and explore this beautifully animated cross-over.
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6 Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition
|Initial Release Date||15 November 2013 [EE edition release]|
|Platform||iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, Xbox One & OS X|
The release of Enhanced Edition on mobile is an incredible opportunity to play one of the founding classics of the ‘Western RPG’, whilst waiting in line for your latte. With a tap of your finger, it is time to return to the dark and beautiful world of the Forgotten Realms and thwart a dastardly plot.
Some will argue that this was the peak of BioWare and rightly so; Baldur’s Gate II is a classic hardcore RPG. The story begins with the hero being imprisoned by the Machiavellian wizard Irenicus, who is trying to steal your powers; the powers of a child of Bhaal, the dead God of Murder.
The game and it’s encompassing world is massive, with 50+ hours’ worth of content, it is an absurdly good value for money. The RPG elements in the game do not hold back; the character creation is near limitless in variety, class, and appearance. In step with the older CRPG’s, there are massive amounts of dialogue options, characters, and readable lore to gorge yourself on.
On smaller phones, the user may struggle with the UI, especially during combat or when you are trying to identify small details in the environment and should be a consideration before picking it up. That being said the controls work great on IPAD and larger phones and the chance to replay this classic RPG on mobile, is too good to pass up.
5 Banner Saga 2
|Initial Release Date||19 April 2016|
|Platform||iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch and OS X|
Banner Saga 2 is a beautiful and melancholic tactical roleplaying game that places the player in a Norse world fraught with dangerous foes and difficult choices. The game employs a ‘Fire Emblem’ like grid-based combat which translates well into the mobile device, but more importantly, it is held up by an incredibly atmospheric world and visuals.
Carrying on from the first game, Banner Quest 2 gives you command of a caravan of warriors and vagabonds as they desperately make their way to the city of Arberrang; for new players, there is a ‘watch recap’ and so there are no issues with starting at this point in the story. Long story short: ‘The world is breaking’ as the ‘Dredge’ close in to wipe humanity off the map.
Contained within this overarching narrative are interesting dialogues and genuinely heart wrenching decisions to be made. There are often very few ‘right’ choices; it is more a decision of who you are willing to sacrifice or betray.
The combat is a solid turn-based system, which is straight forward, but this is a good thing for a mobile game as it works well on the platform. It is made even more enjoyable by the great battle animations and the beautiful hand-drawn art. The game is hard to fault as a mobile game, the soundtrack, gameplay, and story will have you invested until the end.
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4 Old School Runescape
|Initial Release Date||22 February 2013|
|Platform||iOS, Android, Linux & Microsoft|
Old School RuneScape is an MMO goliath that delivers the experience of ‘classic’ Runescape, as a response to the declining popularity of later versions. This sandbox is a ‘hardcore’ MMO that helped define the genre when it first released back in 2001, and it continues to be one of the most popular MMOs of all time.
Whilst the graphics are dated, the possibilities are unlimited; after creating your starting character and completing a brief tutorial, you are free to explore and quest as you like. The screen is a little on the crowded side for those who have smaller phones, but once you get an idea for where everything is then you begin to find the controls are pretty fluid.
The game is packed to the brim with content and detail; there is crafting, baking, gathering and exploring to be done in a massive world that allows for almost endless replayability. One could spend hours or days simply mastering the art of hunting and still find it fascinating.
The downside to the endless content is that it can take a long time to master all the systems that the game has to offer. Yet if you take the time to take on some side quests and pay attention to the multiple dialogues, then you can begin to enjoy this detailed world.
3 Final Fantasy VII
|Initial Release Date||31 January 1997|
|Platform||iOS, Android, PlayStation, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch & Xbox One|
Stepping back in the shoes of Cloud Strife on a mobile device would have been beyond comprehension for those of us playing the original back in 1997. Yet here we are, with another port that brings one of the most critically acclaimed games of the ’90s to handheld devices.
Final Fantasy VII is the favourite in the series for many long-time fans and many good reasons; firstly, the characters in VII are deep, interesting and tragic. Not only did the game have a massive world map to explore but it also a vast array of interesting and memorable side-quests, such as the ‘Golden Chocobo’ quest where you capture and breed wild Chocobos.
FF VII doesn’t deviate too much further from the classic Final Fantasy formula in terms of combat, and as with many games on this list, the simplicity translates well into the mobile platform. The game’s action and emotions are assisted by an incredible soundtrack and mobile game one should experience with their earphones firmly in.
The story is one of the greats in the Final Fantasy series, with ‘that’ moment bringing many of us to tears back in 1997 (an arguably could earn it a place on the ‘Saddest Game’ list) and a journey to Midgar is still a worthwhile one over 20 years later.
2 Chrono Trigger
|Initial Release Date||11 March 1995|
|Platform||iOS, Android, Super NES, Playstation, Nintendo DS and Microsoft Windows|
Some people will say that Chrono Trigger is one of the greatest RPGs of all time, citing the music, story and charming visuals as reasons for its timeless appeal. Originally released on Super NES, the game was later ported to PlayStation, then Nintendo DS and now PC and mobile.
Set in an alternate world, Chrono Trigger sends you hurtling through different time zones to restore balance to the world after you and your friend are sucked into a time portal. The gameplay and the feel of the game are very similar to early Final Fantasy games (shock), where you lead your 2D silent protagonist through the world, listening to extensive dialogues and engaging in combat.
Unlike Final Fantasy, in areas that you are exploring, some enemies are openly visible and walking into their vicinity will commence the battle there and then. Positioning in this more fluid combat system allows for advantages when enemies switch position. Aside from this, the game plays responsively on most phones, simply point and touch at the actions you want to take in the middle of combat.
The soundtrack is still a beautiful thing to behold and the extensive cast of characters are endearing, even the two-dimensional art is charming and perfect for the mobile platform. For many, the mobile port will be an easily accessible trip down memory lane, for new players it is an easy entry into one of the most beloved series of all time and easily one of the greatest mobile RPGs.
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1 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
|Initial Release Date||15 July 2003|
|Platform||iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows, Xbox & OS X|
KOTOR is one of the best games that BioWare has ever created and I am sure that I am not alone in that opinion, which is why it tops our list of mobile RPGs. Set in the beloved Star Wars universe, combined with some ‘BioWare magic’, this RPG embraces a little bit of a darker tone. The result is a sci-fi adventure filled with choices, battles, and consequences.
Once you create your character and select one of three starting classes, you enter the Star Wars Universe at the time of the ‘Old Republic’ when the Republic is on the backfoot in the war against the ‘Sith Empire’. Taris is a great introductory planet; full of rogues, fight pits and illegal racing and the quality of the first planet is a good example of the quality one can expect. Every planet you explore is dripping with lore, action, and quests to sink your teeth into.
The combat is round-based but moves at a great pace and some of the squad synergies, really give you a reason to bring different companions along every time. There are plenty of well-acted dialogues and choices, with a signature dark side/light side morality system. There is nothing cooler than roleplaying as a dark Jedi and watching your choices slowly corrupt the physical appearance of your ‘hero’.
Where the game shines is its story, which in many ways is one of the greatest stories ever told in the Star Wars universe, easily outshining some of the films regarding the plot. The choice system offers branching endings, both give real weight and consequences to your choices and making an actual impact on the story. If you are a Star Wars fan or even a fan of story-driven RPGs, you owe it to yourself to experience this incredible story.
The mobile genre is no longer just for ‘free to play’ model games but is in fact filled with some incredible RPG ports and some custom-built treasures.
It reminds us how far gaming has come in the past 20 years and we hope you enjoy our handpicked top recommendations for the mobile RPG genre; I for one can’t wait to plant my lightsaber in Darth Malak’s chest whilst on my lunchbreak.
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