Role-playing games have come a long way since their humble tabletop beginnings. After making the leap to the PC and console, they've now found a home your phone or tablet. The best of the mobile lot lets players live out fantasy epics, transport them into far future space operas, or tell intimate, character-driven narratives. From old-school dungeon crawling classics to modern action RPGs and quirky little indies, check out two dozen of the best mobile RPGs for your Android or iOS device.
Sasha is having a very bad day, emerging in a nightmarish underworld to find her family missing, her left arm a bloody stump, and a mysterious stranger offering her a strange, living sword. Featured among Apple's Best of 2016 apps, Severed has players guiding Sasha through her quest to rescue her family, exploring the netherworld and engaging in swipe-based combat as you cut past the monsters in your way and harvest their limbs to grant you supernatural powers. Swipes are both attack and defense, parrying enemy attacks and leaving them open to your own strikes. The game spices things up by throwing multiple enemies at you from different directions, making threat management and smart use of special abilities key to surviving and rescuing your family.
Aspyr brings an RPG classic to mobile phones with Jade Empire: Special Edition (Android, iOS), a wuxia-themed action RPG by the developers of Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Players step into the roles of gifted students of Master Li, as they get caught up in action and intrigue battling the Emperor and his infamous Lotus Assassins. True to its wuxia influences, Jade Empire has players battling it out against men and monsters using a variety of martial arts styles whose moves can be combined to great effect. While players can use tap and swipe controls, the app also includes support for MFi controllers.
Crowntakers (Android, iOS) combines turn-based strategy and roguelike RPGs with a lively art style and presentation to make a mobile-friendly experience that's a good balance of simplicity and systems. As the illegitimate son of the King, it's up to you to rescue the kingdom from usurpers who have imprisoned its ruler. Players explore a procedurally generated overmap, searching for treasure, gear and mercenary heroes to join your cause, while trying to make good time before the usurpers can gather their full power. Once you get stuck in, you get to fight out quick and deadly turn-based battles pitting your heroes against monsters or rebels, frequently decided by smart positioning and using each hero's abilities to the fullest.
Demon's Rise 2: Lords of Chaos delivers fantastically crunchy combat encounters as you lead the vanguard of the Demon Prince Morkarn's army to crush the forces of Baron Aedin the Proud. The game's focus is squarely on the combat and hack & slash spectrum of RPGs as you build a roster of heroes and lead them through a 30 mission campaign, collecting gear, gold, and experience. The battles are fun and well-designed, and a cover and morale system add extra dimensions to gameplay as you move to exploit the battlefield and break the will of your enemies. Multiple difficulty levels, side missions and a wealth of character options add to the replay value of Demon's Rise 2, making it well worth a go for fans of tactical RPGs.
A mobile RPG that takes equal inspiration from classic computer RPGs and Kurosawa's 7 Samurai, 7 Mages (Android, iOS) casts players as the titular seven mages gathered together to defend the island of Roven against its many enemies. 7 Mages owes much to games like the Westwood classics of yore like Eye of the Beholder, as well as the more recent Legend of Grimrock, combining a detailed turn-based combat and magic system with intricate, adventure-like puzzles, presented with a slick, premium feel. The first part of the game is free to download and try, with the rest of the chapters unlockable as in-app purchases.
Inkle's digital adaptation of the classic Steve Jackson adventure gamebook series comes to a close with Sorcery! 4 (Android, iOS). The quest for the Crown of Kings comes to a climax as you infiltrate the cursed Citadel of Mampang. Sorcery stays true to its "choose your path" roots, but Inkle cleverly renders many of your choices, as well as presenting combat minigames in an animated format. It’s a slick translation of "choose your path" RPG books into a mobile form, and if you’ve played the previous episodes of Sorcery, you can input your cloud saves so that your choices in previous games can bear unexpected fruit in the finale.
DotEmu brings an action RPG classic to the mobile age with its port of Titan Quest (Android, iOS) to modern mobile devices. Titan Quest takes the formula pioneered by Diablo and ports it over to the ancient world as you fight your way through monsters out of Greek, Egyptian and Asian mythology. A premium desktop game with controls reworked for mobile, Titan Quest avoids miserly monetization strategies in exchange for a 60-plus hour campaign without in-app powerup purchases.