Role-playing games (RPGs) have always been a staple with the sci-fi/fantasy loving crowd, allowing players to immerse themselves in an experience which puts them in the shoes of their protagonists – not just reading or watching the story, with RPG’s they have the opportunity to live it! Even before the advent of video games, pen-and-paper role-playing games were well beloved in the community, with titles such as Dungeons and Dragons being played in many a basement and school classroom. Personal computers skyrocketed the demand (and with it, the supply) of RPG’s, with mobile devices following as the next logical progression – developers nowadays make as many Android/iOS RPGs as they do AAA ones, with some titles being on par with their desktop counterparts in terms of story, gameplay and even graphics. Following is a list of our favorite 5 mobile RPGs:
SW: KOTOR is one of the best known RPG’s in the community – whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not, whether you live in a galaxy far far away or you’re just another inhabitant of the Milky Way, if you like RPG’s, chances are you’ve heard of KOTOR, and have likely played it. Now, the game has an Android/iOS version, and its port is very well done – it plays smoothly on the small screen with responsive controls and a battle system that does the original justice. Your choices affect the story, so make wise decisions – will you let your emotions steer you towards the Dark side, or will you follow the Jedi way and remain true to the Light? Either way, KOTOR is a blast and worth several replays, even if you already know the story. If you don’t, strap yourselves in because Knights of the Old Republic has one of the best narratives in games, ever, and we don’t say that lightly!
As you probably know, Square (now Square Enix) were the developers behind one of the longest-running titles in terms of the number of sequels produced – Final Fantasy. The original Final Fantasy IX is perhaps the crowd favorite of the bunch, and with good reason – it made an enormous splash when it first appeared on the PlayStation and has continued to do ever since. Now, 16 years later, developers have ported the game to mobile so a newer generation of gamers can experience the same epic story – flashy battles, humor, romance, and princesses who can’t help but get kidnapped – FFIX brings that jRPG (Japanese RPG) cheeky wit that fans of manga and anime already know and love. The game works surprisingly well on the touchscreen, incorporating two styles of character control – tap anywhere and the character walks there or hold your finger for a D-pad to appear so you can fine-tune their movement. The developers have added some cheat codes for casual players to use if they feel the game is too difficult; things like infinite gil (Final Fantasy currency), infinite damage per hit or speeding up time are all available.
Continuing with the anime theme, next up on the list is a top-down, dungeon-crawler RPG where you play the role of an unfortunately named hero (or heroine? One can never be too sure these days) that hacks and slashes their way through hordes of enemies, collecting potions and equipment from conveniently placed chests. The name of our protagonist is Regret, as if to name the feeling you’ll supposedly experience in the unlikely event that you pass this game up, and you can play as one of four classes – warrior, assassin, ranger or druid. Each class, along with the different ways you choose to upgrade Regret, brings a substantially different feel to the gameplay, so you could feel like you’re playing a new game with each playthrough. If you think knowing the story might detract from the re-playing experience, you might feel comforted by the fact that the story isn’t that great on the first run either. It has poorly translated dialogue at times, stiff characters, and grindy quests, but even so the game deserves a place on this list with the sheer epicness of its gameplay. The same recipe worked with Zenonia 1, 2 and 3, and it seems to have been perfected with this latest installment. No regrets!
It feels like every subsequent game on this list is in some way related to the last one (duh, they’re all RPGs) – this next one is another top-down crawler, this time set in outer space. The game follows the life and times of Flux, an interstellar delivery truck driver who’s landed (crashlanded, to be more precise) on an alien planet. She must now scavenge the lands and hunt for items to combine and craft, growing in power and ability with each step. These will come in handy when meeting the various denizens of the planet, all of which have distinct movement patterns and attack style – battling them is a test of dancing around their attacks’ landing areas while finding the time to deal your own damage in the meantime. The fights are perhaps the most fun and skill-intensive aspect of the game, but the survival-style scavenging and combining also prove rewarding, albeit a bit repetitive. The narrative is well written and the story is humorous, over the top, and never takes itself too seriously. One of the downsides of Crashlands is that it was developed simultaneously for both mobile and PC, sacrificing certain elements that might be suited for only one of them in order to make a product playable on both. That said, it is still a great game, especially on mobile – as the playstyle caters more to short bursts of gameplay than hour-long sessions.
Last on the list (but not last in our hearts!) is a game released way back in 2014 which to this day keeps getting regular updates. We’re talking about Eternium: Mage and Minions, a free-to-play title whose developers follow a player-friendly, never-pay-to-win philosophy. The result is a game downloaded upwards of five million times, and understandably so – Eternium brings with it the seemingly mindless pleasure of hacking through hordes of enemies (with influences from classics like Diablo, Torchlight, and Path of Exile) combined with a delightfully innovative control system. The way you cast spells and abilities is by drawing the appropriate rune (simple shapes like spirals, arrows, and circles) on the screen. This system is very well implemented and satisfying, making you feel like a proper adventurer with a unique set of skills, suitable for a range of encounters. One of the rare drawbacks of this game is the low number of classes available to play, as you can only take the role of a warrior, bounty hunter or mage. Be that as it may, each offers a unique gameplay that is entirely rewarding.
There you have it, our top 5 picks! It wasn’t an easy list to compile as the mobile RPG category has been booming lately, with both original games as well as ports of old-school RPG’s hitting the market. We didn’t have enough room to talk about a lot of amazing titles, so we’ll just number the honorable mentions in no particular order: Titan Quest, Doom and Destiny Advanced, The Bard’s Tale, Exiled Kingdoms, Evoland, Fire Emblem Heroes, Inotia, Machine Knight, Knights of Pen and Paper +1, Pixel Dungeon, Portal Knights and Sorcery (all four!). Level up, improve your character and finish your quests – the mobile RPG’s bring much of the fun of AAA titles to the small screen!